View From Observation Point
Boondocking Near Zion National Park
Having spent several months last year camping and touring the Mighty 5 Utah National Parks, including some boondocking near Zion National Park, we can honestly say that Utah is built for RV living. There are so many awesome places to see and visit that it would take years to do it all justice, and we may just try 🙂
Traveling in Utah, the phrase ?OMG? comes out of your mouth more than any other thing you will say except maybe ?woah!? For full time RV living or just weekend tent camping, Utah is tailor-made for the outdoor enthusiast and is teeming with free places to stay.
Utah BLM land camping
The state of Utah is more than 64% Federal Land- the highest percentage of any state except Nevada. Combine that with the state park and local land and over 75% of Utah is publicly owned. That is one heck of a lot of acres to go camping.
As you know almost all Federally owned land is free to camp on and the land in Utah is no different.
As the most visited attraction in Utah, Zion National Park gets about 4.5 million visitors each year and lucky for the RV living crowd, boondocking near Zion National Park is plentiful.
Virgin River Running Through Zion NP
Zion RV camping
For those wondering about camping INSIDE Zion National Park, there are 3 options. The South Campground and Watchman Campground are located near the south entrance. Both are fee based but not too expensive.
Watchman is $30 per night including electric hookups and does have a dump station. South is only $20 but does not have hookups. There is a dump station here as well with water.
Lava Point Campground
The 3rd campground within in the park is on the northern side of the park off the Kolob Terrace Road Road. It is Lava Point. This campground is a dry camping location with no hook-ups at all. There are pit toilets available and trash cans.
While this campground is within the parks borders, it is about an hours drive from the South Entrance to Zion so it does not feel ?inside the park.? Lava Point is known for its high elevation views and temperatures in the summer. Vehicles larger than 19ft are prohibited at this location.
Zion East Entrance Boondocking
The entrance to the east side of Zion is not developed like the south entrance which is in the town of Springdale. However there are some good choices for dry camping along the Zion- Mt Carmel Highway (SR-9).
I would not use this road to tow an RV into Zion as there are tunnels requiring a aid escort and sharp switchbacks inside the park. But to camp along the road and then drive into the park, the visuals are stunning along this route.
Near the Mt Carmel Junction (SR-9 and SR-89) there are a couple of well documented boondocking sites. Just to the south and on the east side of the 89 is ?Old 89,? an old gravel pit that houses several sites. They are quite large and there is room to maneuver larger rigs.
Across the road and along the Virgin River is ?Twin Hollows Canyon.? There are quite a few sites here and some are right on the river. These dry camping spots are about 20 miles out of the Zion.
Free Camping Near Zion National Park South Entrance
The south entrance to Zion is the main entrance. With the town of Springdale right outside the park and all of its lodging and restaurants, it becomes a focal point for tourists.
Nearby as well are the towns of La Verkin and Hurricane which have all of the amenities anyone could wish for in a less ?touristy? environment than Springdale- including a free dump/fill station at the LaVerkin Maverik station, grocery stores and a Walmart. Of course, St George is only a short drive further.
All of these nearby amenities make the South Entrance far superior for boondocking near Zion National Park. This area also offers camping that is very close to the park, so you can spend that much more time hiking the trails or enjoying the awesome sights that Zion is famous for
Smithsonian Butte Camping
Just outside of Springdale is the town of Rockville. South of town is a beautiful 9.5 mile stretch of road called the Smithsonian Butte Backcountry Byway. Along this road is interspersed camping off of the side roads that trail off in every direction.
Camping must be done at least mile from the Byway but it is free and beautiful. Also it is so close to Zion that you can nearly hear the screams of hikers falling off of Angel?s Landing.
This is sort of a locals hideaway so please be super respectful, quiet and on your best camping behavior. Trailers of any kind are not recommended out here and in wet weather, best to have 4WD. Oh, and umm? keep it to yourself?
Kolob Terrace Road Camping
The Kolob Terrace Road runs north from the town of Virgin, UT about 15 minutes outside the South Entrance. This is probably the closest free camping to the park. There are ample sites along the road, but the road itself can be rough and most campers out here are tent campers, van lifers or very small trailers. Larger RV?s are not advised.
Sheep Bridge Rd Boondocking Site Near Zion National Park
Sheep Bridge Road Boondocking
Just past Virgin on the south side of UT-9 is Sheep Bridge Road. This road starts with some day use only sites, but after about a mile, reverts to open BLM land. There are tons of boondocking spots along this road and absolutely beautiful vistas on which to camp. This is a very popular boondocking area as it is very open and accessible.
The road itself is pretty well kept as there are some quarry type operations down it. However with sites large enough for any rig, this was some of the best boondocking near Zion National Park that we found.
La Verkin Overlook Camping
A little farther along UT-9 on the south side, there are dispersed sites all over the place. Some sit atop the bluff overlooking the Virgin River. The land here is some public and some private, so you need to watch carefully for signs- however sites are plentiful.
Flying Monkey Mesa Sites
About a mile north of Virgin, along the Mesa Road, is the Flying Monkey Mesa site. There are 2 sites here although the second site looks large enough to hold a few campers. The dirt road to the sites is on the right side of Mesa Rd and then cuts back along Mesa Rd, but going uphill to the top of a pointed mesa overlooking the valley to the south. It is a very beautiful site if you can get up there. Smaller vehicles are recommended.
Get Out There!
So as you can see, boondocking near Zion National Park is both easy and plentiful. All of the resources are nearby that you could need and there are sites for any taste whether it be more social or hidden away in complete privacy. We find boondocking to be a wonderful money saver over rv parks and also really love the freedom that we feel being right out in nature.