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Go Camping In Utah’s 5 National Parks

The state with the third-highest amount of national parks, Utah is home to five: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. Here’s what you should know about RV camping in each park.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is iconic with over 2,000 natural stone red rock arches. Soaring pinnacles, massive fins, and giant balanced rocks makes it seem like another planet. Visitors to the park can do a variety of activities like backpacking, bicycling, canyoneering, tours, horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing. 

Arches National Park. Photo by Christian Keller, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Camping is only available in one campground, Devil’s Garden Campground, 18 miles from the park entrance. Situated among slickrock outcroppings, this 51-site campground is open year-round.

Campsites can be reserved up to 6 months in advance for stays March 1-October 31, but they are first-come, first-served between November 1 and February 28. Drinking water, picnic tables, grills, and pit-style and flush toilets are available on site. 

Bryce Canyon

Over two million visitors come to Bryce Canyon National Park to experience the red rocks, pink cliffs and endless features that make it such a wonder. The park is home to the largest concentration of hoodoos (irregular columns of rock) found anywhere on earth.

Despite the name, Bryce Canyon is actually not a single canyon but a series of natural amphitheaters carved into the edge of a high plateau, the most famous of which is the Bryce Amphitheater. Other big attractions in the park are Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point. 

Visitors can experience a number of activities through ranger programs like astronomy, full moon hikes, and geology talks. For those who want to head out on their own, there are numerous hikes for every level of hiker. The park is also home to several annual events including the annual geology festival, Utah prairie dog day, and the annual astronomy festival. 

Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo by J. Philipp Krone, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

There are two campground sites in the park, North Campground and Sunset Campground, both located near the Visitor Center, Bryce Canyon Lodge, and the Bryce Amphitheater.

All sites are first-come, first-served. North Campground is home to 13 RV sites and 86 RV and tent sites. Loop A is open all winter and the campground has a restroom with flush toilets, picnic tables, drinking water, fire grates, and quick access to the Shared-Use Path.

The campground is near the General Store which has coin-operated laundry and shower facilities, firewood, a snack bar, groceries, camping supplies, and a picnic area during the summer months when it operates. There are no hook-ups in either campground but a fee-for-use dump station is available at the south end of North Campground.

Sunset Campground, located in a ponderosa pine forest, has 100 sites, 80 of which can accommodate RVs. The campground is closed mid-October through mid-April. It has on-site restrooms with flush toilets, as well as picnic tables, fire grates, drinking water, and access to the Shared-Use Path. 

Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park is appropriately named for the 337,598 acres of countless canyons and buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries that make up the park.

The park is divided into four districts divided by the Green and Colorado Rivers, each with their own terrain, character, and sights. Visitors to the park can enjoy backpacking, biking, boating, climbing, hiking, horseback riding, and stargazing.

Canyonlands National Park. Photo by Mr. Nixter, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Camping is available in two spots: Island in the Sky Campground and the Needles Campground. Open year-round, Island in the Sky has 12 sites on a first-come, first-served basis near the Green River Overlook. There are toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings on-site but no water.

The Needles Campground is larger with 26 sites as well as three group sites. Some sites are available for reservations in spring and fall, but otherwise, it is first-come, first-served. There are toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings in the campground. 

Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef National Park is located in what’s known as the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline or wrinkle on the earth. The almost 100 miles of this fold include cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges.

The park was also designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2015, making for great stargazing. Other activities in the park include hiking, backpacking, canyoneering, rock climbing, biking, and backcountry horseback riding. 

Capitol Reef National Park. Photo by Michael, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Fruita Campground is the only developed camping in the park (as opposed to primitive and backcountry camping). Next to the Fremont River and surrounded by orchards, this idyllic campground has 71 sites, each with a picnic table and fire pit and/or above-ground grill, but no water, sewage or electrical hookups. There is an RV dump and potable water fill station near the entrance to Loops A and B. Restrooms have running water and flush toilets but no showers.

Zion

Utah’s first national park, Zion National Park is full of cream, pink and red sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and a variety of plants and animals. There is tons to do in this 229-square-mile park including backpacking, bicycling, canyoneering, hiking, rock climbing, river trips, sunset watching, and stargazing.

Visit the Kolob Canyons section of the park for a five-mile scenic drive of crimson canyons and access to various trails and scenic viewpoints. Or visit The Narrows, one of Zion’s most popular hikes and the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. 

Utah
Zion National Park. Photo by Udo S, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

There are three campgrounds in Zion: Lava Point Campground, South Campground, and Watchman Campground. Lava Point is open May through September and has 6 primitive campsites available by reservation. There are pit toilets and trash cans but no water, and vehicles longer than 19 feet are not permitted on the road to the campground.

South Campground has 117 campsites available by reservation. There are no hook-ups available but a dump station with potable water is available. Shaded/tree sites can only accommodate vehicles with a maximum height of 12’6”.

Watchman Campground is the best for RV camping with an entire loop dedicated to RVs only. Sites are available year-round and are available by reservation March through October. There are 176 sites, 69 of which are for tents only. There are no full hook-up sites but a dump station is available. 

Take This Road Trip To See The ‘Mighty 5’ National Parks Of Utah

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