Costs To Camp Zion: Is This National Park Worth It?

Wondering about the costs to camp Zion?

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At BookOutdoors, we love to unveil what it takes to embrace the wild.

And, nestled in the heart of Utah’s majestic landscapes, Zion National Park was officially designated a wilderness by the U.S. government in 2009. With its towering cliffs, verdant valleys, and an array of diverse wildlife, it’s no wonder camping here is a bucket-list experience for many.

Let’s walk through the various costs associated with camping in this natural wonderland.

Understanding Zion’s Allure

Before diving into the costs to camp Zion, let’s appreciate why it’s such a coveted camping destination. Zion offers different camping experiences, each with its unique cost structure.

Types of Camping In Zion National Park

Developed Campgrounds

These are the most common camping areas, equipped with amenities like restrooms, picnic tables, and fire pits. The main campgrounds are Watchman Campground and South Campground.

Primitive Campgrounds

For a more rugged experience, the Lava Point Campground offers minimal facilities and is accessible by high-clearance vehicles only.

Back-Country Camping

For the adventurous souls, back-country camping involves hiking to remote areas and setting up camp. This requires a back-country permit.

The park spans over 146,000 acres and offers a diverse range of landscapes, from deep canyons to high plateaus. It’s home to unique geological formations, including the famous Zion Canyon, which stretches 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep. The park’s biodiversity, scenic vistas, and the tranquil Virgin River make it a paradise for nature lovers.

A man sitting in his camping chair next to his tent in Watchman campground, part of the costs to camp Zion National Park.

Costs To Camp Zion: The Breakdown

In brief, let’s look at the basic costs involved in the three types of campgrounds available at Zion. Are we shooting for an ultra-specific line-by-line list? No. We just need to set down a framework you can work off of.

Also, please keep in mind prices could change from the time this article is being published. Check the National Park’s website for current updates.

Developed Campgrounds

Watchman Campground

Prices range from $20 to $30 per night for tent sites and $50 for group sites. Electric hookups for RVs are available at an additional cost.

South Campground

Rates are about $20 per night for tent and RV sites, with no hookups available.

Primitive Campgrounds

Lava Point Campground

This is a free campground, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Back-Country Camping

Permit Fees

A back-country permit is required, costing $5 for a reservation and $20 per group.

Additional Costs To Camp Zion

Park Entrance Fee

A 7-day vehicle pass costs $35, while per-person entry is $20 (ideal for cyclists or hikers). An annual pass is available for $70.

Equipment Rental

If you don’t have your own gear, local outfitters offer tent, sleeping bag, and other equipment rentals. Prices vary based on the rental duration and equipment type.

Food and Supplies

Budget for meals, snacks, and essential supplies like water and first-aid kits.

Travel Expenses

Consider the cost of getting to the park, whether by car, shuttle, or plane.

Beautiful, colorful, high-definition photo of the narrows and rock formations in Zion National Park with flowing water below, by Karan Chawla.

Booking & Maximizing Your Experience

Reservations for Watchman Campground can be made six months in advance, while South Campground allows reservations two weeks prior. Lava Point is first-come, first-served, and back-country permits can be obtained up to three months in advance.

To make the most of your camping trip at Zion:

Plan Ahead: Book your campsite and obtain the necessary permits well in advance, especially during peak season.

Pack Wisely: Bring appropriate gear for the season, including comfortable hiking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, and a reliable map.

Respect The Environment: Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the park’s natural environment. This includes packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and respecting wildlife.

Explore Beyond The Beaten Path: While popular spots like Angel’s Landing and The Narrows are must-sees, Zion is filled with hidden gems. Consider less crowded trails for a more serene experience.

Stay Hydrated & Nourished: The dry climate and physical exertion can quickly lead to dehydration and fatigue. Carry enough water and energy-boosting snacks.

Capture Memories, Not Souvenirs: Take photographs and memories, but leave rocks, plants, and artifacts as you find them for others to enjoy.

Be Prepared for Changing Weather: Weather in Zion can be unpredictable. Pack rain gear and layers to adapt to sudden changes.

Utilize Park Resources: Park rangers are a wealth of information. Attend ranger-led programs to learn more about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife.

Large sweeping canyon scenery or landscape from Zion National Park on a cloudy day. Photo by Joshua Gresham.

The Best Times To Camp Zion

The costs to camp Zion National Park vary throughout the year, because it’s open year-round. That said, each season offers a different experience:

Spring (April to June): Ideal for wildflower blooms and comfortable temperatures.

Summer (July to September): Hot and busy, but perfect for exploring the Virgin River.

Fall (October to November): Cooler temps and fewer crowds make for pleasant hiking.

Winter (December to March): Cold and possibly snowy, but peaceful and unique landscapes.

Safety Considerations

Camping in Zion, like any wilderness experience, comes with inherent risks. Be aware of potential dangers, including wildlife encounters, flash floods, and steep terrain. Always inform someone of your itinerary and expected return time.

Price & Book Your Zion Excursion

Camping at Zion National Park is an unforgettable experience, but it requires planning and budgeting. The cost of camping varies based on the type of campsite, duration of stay, and additional expenses like park entrance fees and equipment rentals.

By preparing adequately and respecting the park’s regulations and natural beauty, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable camping adventure in one of America’s most stunning national parks.

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-time visitor, Zion’s awe-inspiring landscapes and diverse camping options offer something for everyone. So get ready to pack your bags, and book your stay with BookOutdoors, check out our available spots for Camping, Glamping, RV parks and Cabins. See you out there!

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