For visitors to Zion National Park, South Campground is an ideal place to stay. Reservations for South Campground are available 14 days ahead of arrival. Located near the parks south entrance, the campground is just a short walk from the main visitor center, the Zion Canyon Shuttle System and the adjacent town of Springdale. The canyon and most of the parks trails are only accessible by shuttle bus from approximately the end of February until the end of November each year. South Campground is open from approximately March 1st to the Monday after Thanksgiving in November. For reservations more than 14 days ahead of arrival, please check Watchman Campground which offers reservations six months ahead of arrival.
Zion is known for its dynamic geologic history. The South Campground and Amphitheater were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the early 1930s. The project was completed and opened to the public in the spring of 1935. The Virgin River, a narrow but powerful river that has carved out the canyon over time, runs adjacent to the site. Cottonwood trees surrounding the campsite turn golden in the fall. Although the campground is moderately forested, most of the campsites are in partial to full sun but visitors can cool off in the cold river when temperatures peak during summer. Be Advised: The months of April and May bring an unusual infestation of Tent Caterpillars, which fall from trees onto tents, tables, and unsuspecting campers and can make it quite uncomfortable to sit outside. The months of July and August in particular bring a higher concentration of ants in the campsites, which seem to come out especially after the monsoons, but are present all summer long. August and September bring meat eating yellowjackets. Insecticidal treatment by visitors is not permitted.
Hikers can access three trails directly from the facility: the Watchman Trail, a moderate trail that ascends the peak behind the campground; the Archeology Trail, which offers a light hike to an archeological site; and the Parus Trail, a paved walking and biking trail that runs alongside the river, and the only trail in the park that allows dogs. The Zion visitor center and the park shuttles are a short walk from the campground where additional hiking trails are available. Many popular rock climbing routes are within a short shuttle bus ride into the main canyon.
Flush toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, firepits and a dump station are provided at this facility. Four group sites are available that can accommodate RVs and tents. There are no hook-ups in this campground. Generators can be used during specific hours. Use of OHVs and ATVs is prohibited in Zion National Park.
The town of Springdale has shopping, art galleries, shower facilities, restaurants. equipment rental businesses, gas stations, markets, bike rentals, library and health clinic.
Day Use Area: Amphitheater
South Campground is gorgeous. It is great if you are willing to take the risk for the first come first served. I am traveling from too far away to take that risk so I always stay in Watchman. If I lived closer I would take a shot at staying in South Campground. My advice, get there early because it fills up fast!
I used my Sony Camera rather than my Iphone for these pics. I think they turned out much better than my Watchman pics.
Beautiful new campsites with partial shelter. Newer part of the campground features group sites. Great access to the park and shuttles!
The South Campground in Zion is less popular than the Watchman Campground. There seemed to be less RV's in South, which for me is always a plus. I visited at the very beginning of October and if was still very warm, the temperature never seemed to drop at night. All I needed to sleep was a blanket, and not even my sleeping bag.
Upon arrival, the campground hosts chose a spot for me based on the current availability. The challenge with camping in the park is that as soon as spots are empty they are taken so there is a constant turn over and you just take what you can get.
The sites themselves are not all the private but a conveniently located to bathrooms, water, and trash. Unfortunately I was placed right behind one of the bathrooms and the sites are such that people were walking through on their way to and from the bathrooms.
There is a river that runs along one side of the campground and if you're really lucky, you may get one of those sites. There are a few spots where you can access the river to relax or for a quick dip.
The Pa'rus trail runs through the campground which makes is easy to get to the Visitors Center and shuttle stop (roughly a 5 minute walk). The town of Springdale is not far away and easy to get to through the southern pedestrian entrance.
If you're looking for a hike and want to forego the shuttle lines and/or the crowds of Angles Landing (or maybe it just isn't your thing) I suggest the Watchman Trail that leaves from the Visitors Center.
Went to Zion for the weekend to hike the narrows and hidden canyon. This time around, we decided to camp at one of the established campgrounds.
Pros: located near the entrance, therefore convenient.
Cons: have to book weeks ahead of time, there’s a $20 a night fee, and a sea of people, therefore no privacy.
To avoid the crowds, I would suggest camping on Kolob road (see my previous post). Even though it’s 30 minutes from Zion and considerate a primitive campground, it is free, next to a stream, and with not crowded
This is by far on of my favorite National Parks. The campground is fairly large (100 + spots) but very hard to secure a spot, make sure to book ahead of time! Zion has some rules about booking ahead so check the website to know when to make a booking. We managed to get a spot last minute but it was a walk in spot. These are a problem if you have a lot of stuff but you can avoid some crowds with them. The views right from the campground are incredible and the rest of the park is overwhelmingly fun.
The campground has plenty of vault toilets, picnic tables, water and trash bins. There are other campgrounds in the park as well as outside if this is full. Caution that the grounds outside the park can be pricey and are nothing special.
Sites available online 2 weeks before the date of your trip. Can reserve 3 nights at a time, max. $20/night for basic tent set up. Plumbed/flush toilets, accessible water spigots, clean facilities. No showersI had decent cell signal with Verizon, my friend struggled a little with T-Mobile but still had some. So close to the first shuttle stop, visitor center, and virgin river. Gorgeous view of the Watchman as you wake up. Walk-up sites have reserved parking spots. High was 105 during the day, didn't seem to cool off til about 2am each night, but was nice and windy at night. Also pretty close to the nearest town (Springdale)--maybe a five minute drive from the campground?
We hiked the subway, the narrows (top down, one day), lower emerald pools, canyon overlook, observation point, and hidden canyon. Everything was beautiful! The rangers were so lovely and helpful as we made our hiking plans. Angels Landing is closed indefinitely due to a storm earlier this summer but that's just an excuse for us to come back next year!
P.S. Campsites sell out FAST online. Set an alarm for 14 days before your trip and book first thing in the morning!
Zion National Park is a very busy NP with limited campsites within the canyon proper, so scoring a campsite inside the park is tricky and fairly difficult to plan for. The first time we visited Zion we stayed in the South Campground, back when it was a first-come first-served campground. I heard you can now make reservations for South two weeks ahead of time, but I imagine the spots fill up as quickly as ever.
If South campground still offers sites on a first-come first-served basis like its neighboring campground, Watchman, arrive in the park EARLY! Like 5-6am early! Lines for the campgrounds begin forming around 5 or 6am, and grow quickly. When we first stayed in Zion at the South campground, we timed the road trip so that we drove to Zion in the middle of the night in order to arrive early enough to get in line for South or Watchman campground. Both South and Watchman has had lines 20 cars deep by 6:30 am whenever we have camped inside Zion National Park, so be prepared to get up early to wait in line - I would also suggest having a back-up plan just in case you do not get a campsite in the canyon.
Anyhow…South Campground is inside Zion National Park, adjacent to the visitors center (towards the entrance to the park). The campsites are small, crowded, and very open to neighboring sites - but with that being said, they are still very nice sites, and you can’t beat the backdrop of Zion canyon. Each site has a fire pit and picnic table, and plumbed bathrooms and water spigots are available throughout the campground.
There are no showers in South campground - there are showers (for a RIDICULOUS amount of money) are located a short walk away in the “village” area, where there are also shops, restaurants, rentals, etc. The Virgin River runs adjacent to the campground - it is lovely to swim in when you are visiting Zion in the hot summer months. There is little to no cell reception in the campground - I use Verizon, and could occasionally get a signal in the campground. The signal was a little better in parts of the village.
There are no bins for food storage in the campground - I do not know what kind of animals frequent the campgrounds in Zion Canyon, but I would still suggest locking all of your food inside your car at night.
The visitors center and shuttle station are only a couple minutes away by foot - literally. Much of Zion is inaccessible by personal vehicles, so one must take the shuttle service to get around. The shuttle services are fast and efficient, but there still might be some wait time due to the popularity of the park. The shuttle announces what hikes and sites are accessible at each stop, but it’s good to look at a map and plan where you want to go ahead of time - the different hikes throughout the canyon are pretty spaced out, you don’t want to get off at the wrong shuttle stop.
Zion Canyon can get VERY windy at night - every time I have camped in Zion National Park the winds have howled all night long, from around midnight well into the morning. If you have the option of bringing a tent with a low, sleek profile, I would highly suggest it. The first time we camped in ZNP we brought our large tent, and the wind really whipped it around all night. We used a small backpacking tent for our next trip, and the lower profile tent made less noise in the wind.
The backdrop to South Campground is simply gorgeous! It is in the middle of the canyon, so you are surrounded on either side by tall red cliffs that glow like embers in the morning and at sunset! Surreal!
On this trip we hiked to the lower and upper Emerald Pools. The Emerald Pools hikes are fairly easy hikes, one mile for the lower pool, than an additional mile to the upper pool. The hikes are easy and moderate, respectively.
On this trip we also went tubing down the Virgin River - SO MUCH FUN! We rented the tubes for $20 at Zion Outfitters, a rental shop right outside the entrance to ZNP. The trip down the river took about two hours, and was a very unique and relaxing way to experience Zion canyon! I will admit, even though it was really hot when we went, I was freezing for the last half hour or so of the float - the Virgin River is always cold. Besides that, I would highly recommend tubing down the river!
TIP: If you have a pair of water shoes/sandals, I would recommend wearing them while tubing!
Plumbed Toilets: Yes
Picnic Table: Yes
Cooking Grate: Yes
Cell Service: Limited/NO
Animal Bins/Food Lockers: NO
I love South Campground when I go to Zion. Recently, they switched over from First Come First Serve to a 2 week reservation system ($20/night) so be aware of this when you want to go. You can check for cancellations, which is how I got in the last time at the last minute. You can't beat the views at sunset, you get to look up at the watchmen and be in awe. It is worth one morning doing the Watchman overlook trail, and also pulling your camping chair into the virgin river behind the campground after a day of hiking and walking.
Book in advance. These sites can fill up fast especially in prime season. They can also flood in monsoon season. The virgin river runs through camp. No showers, but there are bathrooms and water. Sites are a tad on the smaller side but doable. There are trailers right from camp or you can walk across the street and take the tram up further into the canyon for more trails. You can also take the Springdale tram through Town to eat or check out the location shops. There are some really neat places to see in town. Hikes are hands down unbelievably amazing. The narrows are a must and angels landing. The day we left Zion they had a horrible flash flood that took out a lot and I heard angles landing was closed. I was there the second week of July. Just pay attention the the weather. Days are hot, bring cooling towels, nights are nice but still warm . Most of all, sit back and take in all your surroundings.
Great location but tiny camping spots, we had to put our tents in the parking spot. Bathrooms are relatively close, and super nice showers but not a lot of shade. Make sure to request a spot with trees for summer months.