For visitors to Zion National Park, Watchman Campground is an ideal place to stay. Located near the park's 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 park's trails are only accessible by shuttle bus from approximately March through November each year.
Season Dates: Watchman Campground is open year-round. Advance reservations are available 6 months prior for stays March through Thanksgiving weekend in November. The campground has first-come, first-served campsites available from the end of November through February.
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 nearby; and the Pa'rus Trail, a paved walking and biking trail that runs alongside the river, and the only trail in the park that allows dogs. Although there are no rock climbing routes in the campground, many popular climbs are within a short shuttle bus ride into the main canyon. Use of OHVs and ATVs is prohibited in Zion National Park.
Toilets, drinking water and picnic tables are provided at this facility. Tent-only (F-Loop), non-electric sites (C & D Loop) do not permit vehicles 19 feet and over or in combined length. Group sites (E-Loop) are also tent-only and can accommodate between seven and 40 people. Standard electric sites in A-Loop may be used for either tent or RV camping. However, only RVs are permitted to occupy sites in the B-Loop. There are no full-hookup campsites. Electric sites are all 30 amp, with only a handful of sites that supply 50 amp; a dump station with potable water is available at the entrance to the campground.
Zion is known for it's dynamic geologic history and Watchman Campground is no exception. Named for the rocky peak that rises above it, the campground is surrounded by tall sandstone cliffs that glow red and orange during sunrise and sunset. The Virgin River, a narrow but powerful river that has carved out the canyon over time, runs adjacent to the campground. Cottonwood trees surrounding the campsite turn golden in the fall. Most of the campsites are in partial to full sun, however in the Group sites (E-Loop) and the Walk-To sites (F-Loop) visitors may receive some shade under pergulas that are constructed over the picnic tables. Visitors can also 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. Insecticidal treatment by visitors is not permitted.
The town of Springdale has shopping, art galleries, restaurants, and a public library. Throughout the year, concerts, festivals, and parades are held in the town.
Charges & Cancellations
Individual Site: A $10.00 service fee will apply if you change your reservation. Cancellations more than 48 hours in advance of arrival date incur a $10 cancellation fee. Within 48 hours of arrival, a $10 cancellation fee and the first night's fee are charged.
Group Site: Customers who cancel a group overnight reservation less than 14 days before the arrival date will pay a $10.00 service fee AND forfeit the first night's use fee.
ADA Access: N
We loved this campsite! It is at the base of the canyon and surrounded by beautiful trees which provide nice shade during the day. The campsite is also within walking distance to the visitors center (which has free wifi if you need) and to the shuttle. The shuttle is by far the best way to explore this National Park. Take advantage of it!
The campsite itself was very clean. The bathrooms were also impressive! Very clean with toilet paper and soap provided. There is also a dishwashing station at each bathroom which is very convenient. You can walk into town or take the free shuttle to access some locations in town that provide showers for a fee (~$5-$7). Firewood can also be purchased in town.
We stayed in Loop A and where we were situated was perfect in the morning. The trees were covering our camp site. It was quiet even though it was a full campground. The bathrooms were nice and it even included sinks to wash your dishes and drinking water. Bathrooms were clean(not outhouses). The campsite was convient to the shuttle, vistors center, springdale, and a few trails. The only thing that i was bummed about was that we waited to long to make reservations and could only get one night. So plan ahead if you want to stay here. We booked ours two weeks in advance and that was the only spot available.
Watchman Campground is one of two campgrounds inside of Zion National Park. It is located near the South Entrance of the park closest to Springdale, UT. You MUST make reservations online 6 months in advance to get a spot and they go SO FAST!
There is so much to love about this park!! I’ll start with the location. The South Entrance to the park is next to a town called Springdale which has so much to offer. There are restaurants, shops for camping gear, grocery stores, gas stations, laundry mat, showers, etc.…anything you could need is right there. (Super Convenient) It is also within driving distance of a bunch of other spectacular places, such as…Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand-Staircase National Monument, Antelope Canyon, Kanarraville Falls, and many many others! So take some time to plan out a trip. There is so much to see!
The park has plenty of amenities, it is definity one of the nicest parks I have stayed at. Clean, well-stocked bathrooms on every corner, huge visitor/information center and a shuttle system inside the park as well as in Springdale.
Now because the park is such a big tourist destination, it does come with a few downfalls. There are many wonderful trails, but the majority are going to be paved so that they are accessible to everyone, which don’t get me wrong, that is an awesome thing. Anyone and everyone can go experience this amazing place, but we did miss some of the adventure that comes with a dirt trail. The Watchman trail and the top of Angel's Landing trail will give you some sense of adventure.
There are also a TON of camping sites and they will ALL be full, so be prepared to get to know your neighbors and everyone else around. There will be a lot of noise and it feels more like you’re at a theme park than camping, but if you embrace it….you will find such a fun community and leave with new friends and experiences!
We did have a permit for The Narrows but unfortunately due to snow melt it was closed along with a few others. This made for even bigger crowds at the other trails, but it was still an experience I will never forget.
Quick Tip: Get a National Park Pass!!!! We always have our National Parks Pass in our pocket because we like parks, but I found that while in and around Zion we used our pass more than ever before. There are so many National Monuments and Parks around Zion that the pass can be used for and it was nice to just be able stop on the fly and have free entrance. We saved at least a couple hundred bucks on our trip just by have our pass! Without the pass, Zion alone is $36.00 per car to enter.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time. At Watchman Campground I tested the Stream2Sea Tinted Suncreen.
I was very excited to try out a new sunscreen. Full disclosure, I am what you call very fair skinned. I burn faster than the marshmallows roasting at you campfire….literally. So sunscreen is an absolute MUST for me. My first beach day of the Summer I had reapplied a 40SPF sunscreen 5 times throughout the day and still ended up a ripe tomato.
Now as I had said previously, I had a permit for the Narrows and thought that would be a great place to try it out with all the Sun and water, but the trail was closed. So my husband and I decided to take a day to drive from Zion to Lake Powell, where we rented a 2 person kayak and decided to kayak into Lower Antelope Canyon.
When first applying the tinted sunscreen, I immediately noticed the difference from other “white” sunscreens. You still have to rub it in very well, but you don’t have those white streaks running down you as you normally would. I was worried it wouldn’t blend well with my skin tone, but surprisingly it did. It also blended well with my husband’s skin who is much darker than me. I have quite a few tattoos and I noticed it did look kind of strange on ink. It was almost like you could tell there was a film of goo over the tattoo.
So we heading out in the kayak down into the canyon till we hit land, then began hiking in. We spent about 6 hours in direct sunlight without reapplying and I will say I did not even get pink. I normally would have burned to a crisp, but nothing, no redness on my shoulders or top of my thighs.
This stuff works!
There was however one thing I did not like about it…
It felt heavy. You could tell that you have sunscreen on. You could feel it.
It wasn’t sticky at all, but it did have just a certain feel to it, that you do not get with the spray, lightweight sunscreens we have nowadays.
Overall, my skin was protected. A whole day in the Sun mixed with splashing water and it felt good to not be paying for it in the morning with a huge sunburn!
Beautiful campground. Shuttle near by to get to a lot of hikes.
The Watchman Campground was quiet and seemed way less caterpillar infested like it’s sister camp (South Campground). Super kid friendly and tons to keep the tiny humans entertained. Be sure to visit the Nature center during the peak season or the visitor center in the off season to pick up a Junior Ranger work book for the kiddos. Complete given instructions and you too could receive a nifty Junior Ranger badge! Several trail heads such as the watchman and pa’rus trails are accessible from the campgrounds and the visitor center is right in between. The town of Springdale is just beyond that across the bridge of the virgin river where you can find an array of restaurants (we visited the brewery and loved it!), shopping and several gear outfitters. Zion National Park has some of the cleanest restrooms I’ve ever experienced while camping. The visitor center is making some major improvements that look fantastic! I would recommend camping in Zion via reservations! We got lucky with the lottery and cancellations but definitely make reservations at least 2 weeks in advance! Overall great experience!
This campground is fine, but a bit crowded. Lots more RVs in this one than in South. Amenities are nicer, but there is construction on one of the loops right now so there is some noise from that. It's close to the visitor's center and right next to the Virgin River, so that was cool! Better bathrooms than South. More family friendly, but also more crowded!
Don't be confused when you see two Watchman campgrounds. There is really only one campground and you need to book it six months in advance. It is so beautiful and so much fun. If you want to be around some amenities though, skip Springdale and drive an hour west to St. George and make sure you stop off at In and Out Burger. Especially if you live in the midwest like me.
Excellent campground but not much privacy. This is a beautiful place with some much needed shade! Some sites are close to the creek and others are right off the road. Great place to camp if you need to hit the shuttle early to start your hike!
When we traveled here we were fortunate enough to snag a spot at Watchman, which is pretty difficult to do unless you plan to go well in advance. My tip is to try to plan during the week after school has come back into session, it is still warm enough but there are a few less travelers here at that time, still pretty busy. (Campground Website)
Settling into the site it was laid out pretty well with standard amenities, the bonus to this site is the restrooms are heated, much needed on those cold windy mornings. Just helps you start your day freshening up in a little comfort. There are no showers here so by freshening up I mean anything you can do from a standard sink or you can walk to the Zion Outfitters for a shower and pay for the service there.
The site itself was pretty flat and hard packed which was great for sleeping with a sleep roll but not so great for staking the tent. Had to use the method of wetting the ground to secure and drive in the stakes before camping. Not staking the tent is NOT an option, the wind here will get strong enough to blow it away if you are not secure.
I did notice that some sites were equipped with different amenities, typically occupied by RVs and though I didn't explore a lot around these and be nosey it looked like maybe electric was available. (Full Campground Map)
At night it was really quiet after 10 except the whipping of the wind. I noticed the following morning a few people who had taller tents were struggling with repositioning them because they had caught to much wind and it had made them buckle or they had lost their rain flaps. It was pretty chilly and I can't imagine being one of those hikers looking to do the Narrows on days like the one I was there. Still I did notice people packing their gear and wetsuits for the long hike as early as sun up.
- Opt for metal stakes instead of plastic ones, they drive a bit more easily into the hard packed dirt and set to hold more securely in the gusty winds.
- Use your America The Beautiful Pass fo admission and save big while also getting into the park more quickly.
- Bring a jacket. Even during the warmer months a light jacket is a good thing, temps do drop at night here and it can get quite chilly with winds very rapidly.
Great campground and definitely a spot I'd want to stay again when back in Zion. It can book up, but they have good spots with decent privacy and its a very clean and nice campground. Wake up to views in Zion, doesn't get much better! Also right next to the visitors center and walking path into park and into down. Great spot! And does have cell service there.