Zion is incredible! Just know THAT IT IS HOT during the summer. We were there the first week of June and if you are down in the canyon you will want to be resting from 11-4. Seriously, we barely saw anyone actually moving between these hours and the summer heat isn’t even in full force yet. Because of this it is super important to have a shaded site or have a shaded structure that you can rest under. One section of the campground has pergolas to provide shade, but STILL try to find a site with trees around the perimeter, specifically on the south and west sides for when you are miserably hot in the last half of the day. Seriously, get a wide brimmed sun hat with a chin strap(a baseball hat would not have cut it for me) and SOAK IT before you go hiking.
I stayed at site C19 which had a decent line of trees which provided morning shade and some privacy between us and the neighbors in the D loop that butted against us. The campsites were large enough that it felt like we had decent privacy between us and the neighbors on either side as well despite there being no privacy screen of trees. The trees were wide enough to use for hammocking, but I don’t think I would recommend it because they have fragile bark. Even just hanging up my clothesline resulted in accidental bark removal.
The bathrooms were very nice and I appreciated the noise insulation of the building since I didn’t hear the hand dryers going at all. There is also a private handicap bathroom. No outlets anywhere in the bathroom for those of you that use them. This site was far enough away from the bathrooms that I didn’t notice bathroom traffic, but close enough that they were convenient for middle of the night visits.
PUT YOUR FOOD IN YOUR CAR WHEN YOU ARE NOT ACTIVELY EATING IT- DEER AND SQUIRRELS WILL GET INTO IT. DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE- OBESE SQUIRRELS ARE A HUGE PROBLEM HERE FROM PEOPLE FEEDING THE CUTE SQUIRRELS.
Springdale is right outside the park and provides a wide variety of food choices- just know that you will pay for them. A box of Back to Nature cookies at the coop cost TWICE AS MUCH as my local Whole Foods. I believe that a lot of people recommend stopping in Hurricane for groceries. We really liked Rosita’s Sante Fe Kitchen(we may have eaten there every single day). The average entree cost around$14, which in non-vacation reality is ridiculously expensive, but this was CHEAP for Springdale.
Did I mention that it is REALLY hot? If you want to be active during the middle of the day you can go up to the East Rim trail which is cooler(and requires driving on 9 which is amaaaaaazing- just know that there is a mile-long tunnel that they generally only let one lane of traffic go through at a time so there can be ridiculous delays and there are no signs that I saw telling you this- the only hint was in the brochure that said you could expect a delay but did not explain the nature of the delay or that this was a common occurrence and not just every once in a blue moon. The park is fortunate that there is no cell phone service by the tunnel because people would be calling non-stop reporting the traffic stop since you cannot see traffic control when you are so backed up. You can also go to the Kolob canyon- just note that Kolob canyon and Kolob Terrace are NOT THE SAME thing. I had it in my head to do a hike in the Kolob Terrace and was really confused when I showed up at the Kolob canyon and couldn’t find that trail on the map. The Kolob canyon WAS cooler temperature-wise, but I don’t think I would drive out of my way to go again.
Watchman is one of the most beautiful campgrounds I’ve ever stayed in. The campsites and bathrooms are kept clean and tidy. Showers are just a short walk away at Zion Outfitters. I will definitely be back!
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!
First time to Utah. BEAUTIFUL sites, very clean. Group site was awesome. We didn’t camp with tents, it was awesome waking up and having deer all around you!
This was our home base before heading out on a two night backpacking trip with students. Park Rangers were awesome.
This campground was beautiful, we arrived in the dark and woke up to the best view. Watchman is positioned near the information center. The bathrooms were near by and we were able to easily drive into town for groceries.
My husband and I typically plan our trips pretty loosely and I think that's part of the fun. We don't know where we will sleep every night and don't plan out every second of our day. When we decided we wanted to take a trip to Utah, we had a rough idea of what we wanted to see and do. The ONLY solid plans we made were reservations at this campground 6 months in advance and knowing we had to be in Zion by a certain date to keep that site.
I had a calendar reminder set for 6 months to the day and we barely got a site! There were months of studying the map and tiny pictures on the recreation.gov website; contemplating shade, bathroom locations, and proximity to the Virgin River that runs the outer edge. It was all in vain as by 9am PST, I had my choice of the three remaining tent sites in the C or D Loop. At least we got a reservation. The popularity of Zion is unbelievable. The amount of people moving through the park, on the trails, and the lines for the shuttles are massive. I personally think that detracts from the experience overall, but you can't discount that all the popularity is for a reason. Zion is incredible and this is a great campground to experience it from.
The bathrooms are big and clean. Flush toilets and stalls. Multiple sinks on counters with mirrors, important if you have been showerless in a van for over a week and finally want to access the damage. You can fill your water outside the bathrooms and there are dish washing stations as well. The sites have picnic tables, fire pits, and are pretty large and spread out. We had spotty tree coverage. It was warm out and I would imagine this site would be tough in the summer when you could not escape the sun. Not much privacy, at least in C and D loop, but that as much the natural landscape as it is the campground. The campground was clean, quiet, and the Rangers were friendly.
Nearby Springdale is a neat town. We rode the shuttle from the Visitor Center close by the campground. Had a nice meal, some drinks, and a good walk.
We hiked the Narrows, Hidden Canyon, Emerald Pools, and a few others. Drove down to the nearby ghost town of Grafton which is a fun side trip if you are into that sort of thing. Make sure your car can handle the rough road.
Getting a site at Watchman can seem daunting, that's the only reason it's not a 5 in my book. That and the crowds and wait lines, but that's really the park, not the campground. Keep at it. It's a great base camp for exploring Zion and its surroundings!
Watchman campground is inside of Zion National Park. Reservations are hard to get, I booked mine the moment they were released and when I was done booking they were all filled. You can easily walk to the visitor's center to hop onto a shuttle. There are also trail access points off of the campground. The views from anywhere in the sites are lovely. The bathrooms are well kept with flushing toilets. There is no store on site, and you can only buy firewood outside of the park. We were able to walk to buy it but it is a bit of a hike back while carrying firewood, I would recommend purchasing wood before you arrive. This is one of the nosier campgrounds that I have visited. There was loud music until 10pm from the town right outside the gates of the park, along side the campground. This is nice if you want to enjoy the social party scene, but less appealing when trying to enjoy the nature.
Loop D, site 20: Our site was wonderful! I would book this site again if we return. This site is along the back side of the campground so you have no neighbors behind you, just a beautiful view of Watchman. You are on the curve so there is extra space between you and your neighbors. There is ample space for a large tent, or 2 smaller tents on a marked tent pad. The bathrooms are 4 or 5 sites down the road. There is a fire ring and a picnic table. This site is one of the furthest points from the visitor's center in all of the campground.
Zion National Park is one of my favorites. This is the second time I have been here in the last four years. This time we spent a whole week here with the kids. It was awesome but it is tough to find a spot if you don't make your reservations six moths in advance. Make sure you book it early. It fills up fast
Amazing campground if you want to get out and explore Zion. Right next to the first shuttle stop, there you can take the shuttle to Angels Landing, Overlook, the Narrows or walk over to the visitors center. We stayed in Area A which was also quick walk to the local pub and store to rent dry suit gear for the narrows. Bathrooms were amazingly clean and onsite staff was nice and helpful. I would stay here again!
Very busy and campgrounds are packed in near the entrance. Running drinking water but no showers. You must go to a neighboring gear shop outside the entrance. $25/night