We wanted to get into Willow Flats Campground in Island in the Sky but it was full when we arrived at like 9am. We only needed one night and planned to leave the next morning at 4am to get to Denver to cap off a two week trip in Utah, so we went to the first place we found, put our money in the board before even looking at the campsite, then drove down the very bumpy road to find a pretty crappy site. The picnic table was, I don't even know, black, burnt, gross. My girlfriend refers to it as a 'prison table picnic table'. Not good. We didn't even know there was a bathroom. There was a standard fire ring that was black and full of ashes. There wasnt any cover, rocks and dirt. I suppose the sunset view could be good, but we were in the park for it.
Even for one night, I would have looked elsewhere could i do it again. Would not stay there again.
Devil's Garden is at the end of a 20 mile scenic drive through Arches. The campground is small and awesome. We were in site 002, towards the beginning of the campsite so we were concerned about traffic coming and going but it wasn't an issue. We were close to the bathroom which I thought was fine but my female companion wished was cleaner. The bathroom is no reason to not book, though. In fact if, its one of the best campsites in the country, so its a no-brainer if sites are available. Book veeeery early! Oh and I think it may be closed summer of 2017 for renovations, bummer. Mountain views, access to awesome hikes, cool plants/trees/bushes, boulders, privacy, dark skies, you name it, Devil's Garden has it. Do it.
As the title says, no reservations allowed. We arrived at 9am and there were plenty of people leaving and we had a few campsites to choose from. I believe we camped in loop D. We camped 1 night on a Friday in mid-May and it was cold - upper 30's at night - and windy, so be prepared. The elevation is higher than Zion and some other places in Utah, hence the difference in weather.
The campsites were clean, the bathrooms were clean, and it was very quiet. Most people were burning fires in the evenings and went to bed by 9. There isn't much to do in the town or the campground, so you can expect the same. Camp right by your car, some tree cover and a nice picnic bench. 200 yards or so to the Canyon. Quite a bit further to the lodge but easily walkable in 10 minutes.
Favorite Hike - Fairyland Loop - get away from the crowds and get into the canyon.
Sites book up months in advance at Watchman Campground, so book early. We booked 4 nights mid-week in May prior to Memorial Day and we only had a couple of sites to choose from when I looked in January. All that was left was walk-up sites, and I would highly recommend them. The walk from your car is only 50-100 yards and then there are no car doors slamming, errant car alarms or lights going off in the immediate vicinity.
We booked site F017. It had campsites on 3 sides, but plenty of shrubs and distance between other campsites for privacy. It was 50 yards from group campfire pit and 100 yards from bathrooms and dish sink.
The sites are highly manicured, completely level, sit on fine gravel, come with a picnic table, sun shelter and storage unit for food to protect from squirrels. Best of all, it sits at the base of the Watchmen which makes for excellent viewing while unwinding from a day of hiking. The visitor center is within 200 yards and you can grab a shuttle from there to any of the hiking spots.
Favorite Hike - The Subway (apply early and often, its difficult to get a permit; canyoneering shoes and neoprene socks highly recommended, can rent in town fairly cheaply).
Underrated Hike - Hidden Canyon, awesome scrambling and climbing if you choose to venture far into the Canyon.