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Best Site in Watchman Campground, Zion Nat’l Park, UT

Best Site in Watchman Campground, Zion Nat’l Park, UT

Watchman Campground must be an icon in the world of National Park Campgrounds.  I heard so much about it, we were determined to get a site for our Lance 1685 camper — and not just any site, but a good one — for our stay in Zion National Park.

The view from our Watchman Campsite B056, Loop B

The view from our Watchman Campsite B056, Loop B

And we got the best spot in the campground… #B056R, Loop B.  We could hear the babbling brook and look out the trailer (or relax in the campsite) and look directly at Watchman Mountain.  Does it get better than this?

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However, as it turned out, the spring break crowds had even the rangers apologizing to us for overcrowding, and the relaxation that Watchman Campground provided was even more crucial to our enjoyment  – in fact, I think I can say it was the HIGHLIGHT of our visit to Zion.   Sad, because it was simply a bad choice of a time to visit, but we didn’t know that when we made the reservation six months in advance.

Our campsite from the trail leading to the little "river" -- i.e. babbling brook.

Our campsite from the trail leading to the little “river” — i.e. babbling brook.

Speaking of making a reservation in the most popular campgrounds.  It’s CRUCIAL … and more difficult than I ever imagined.  Click here for 10 Tips for Getting the Best Campsite Reservations!  Little things make a big difference and I never would have imagined!

WebsiteWatchman Campground, Zion National Park

Campground/Park Map:  Watchman Regulations and Official Site Map

Reservations: Recreation.Gov/Watchman or call 877-444-6777

Local Park Telephone Number:  1-435-772-3256

Showers:  No Shower Facilities, but nice flush toilets and outside utility sinks.

Sunrise from the deck behind the museum.

Sunrise from the deck behind the museum.  And speaking of the deck behind the museum…

The infamous turkey on the deck at the museum early in the morning while taking sunrise photos. This guy was very proud of watching himself in the glass and even pecked the glass a couple of times!

The infamous turkey on the deck at the museum early in the morning while taking sunrise photos. This guy was very proud of watching himself in the glass and even pecked the glass a couple of times!

Scenic Value:  Best anywhere.  The photos say it all – and there are thousands of photos, luckily, I’ve just imposed a few on this blog post!  Even better, you can easily walk to the main Visitor Center where you catch the shuttle bus into the park. If you’re camping, you can leave your vehicle in the campground.  Here’s a link to a page with more info including the current shuttle schedule.   There’s no driving your own vehicle into the best parts of the park, but the shuttle buses are free and run every 10-15 minutes during busy times. Plus they run on propane, so there’s no nasty air pollution from all the buses!

Zion's propane powered shuttle bus system.

Zion’s propane powered shuttle bus system.

Mosquitos/Bugs:   None in April 2015.  Your experience may vary.

Noise Levels:  The most noise was actually from the commerical campground across the creek.  But it’s a distance away and not noticeable … usually.

Campsite:   Level and easily the nicest campsite we have ever had the privilege to occupy.  The only downside was the fire ring was too close to the picnic table after we rearranged to fit both a tent and our 21′ travel trailer on the site.  But not a big deal.  We had plenty of room to set out our patio mat & chairs and enjoy the Watchman Mountain view.

The babbling brook behind our campsite at Watchman B056, Loop B

The babbling brook behind our campsite at Watchman B056, Loop B

Claustrophobia Quotient:  No claustrophobia in the campground, although there wasn’t a great deal of separation between sites, they were nicely spaced.  Since our little compound was facing the mountain and not the campground, we couldn’t see another camper unless we left our area to walk to the restroom or Visitor Center.

Looking into camp - no other campsites in site!

Looking into camp – no other campsites in site!

The claustrophobia issue in the PARK itself was another issue.  It was horrendous!  We didn’t hike Angel’s Landing even though it was on our “must do” list because it was too windy and WAY overcrowded.  The Ranger at the ranger station recommended against it and gave us some good advice for areas to hike that would not be overrun with too many people.

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Access to Essentials:
Springdale is limited in what is available to purchase.  Like most places in Utah, buying spirits, wine and beer is very difficult, although there is one place at the far end of Springdale that sells wine … ask me how I know.  Come stocked with whatever you may want for however long you’re staying.

The rest of the park is simply amazing as well. Enjoy!

The rest of the park is simply amazing as well. Enjoy! Here we’re hiking Checkerboard Mesa Arch.

Campsite Price  Our “riverside electric campsite” was $20/night with electricity ($10 with our half price senior pass). I understand camping prices are increasing January 1, 2016 to $30 a night for campsites with electricity – so we would have paid $15 with our half price senior pass.  Still quite a deal! 

The view out my Lance trailer door ... simply amazing!

The view out my Lance trailer door … simply amazing!

Have you camped at Watchman Campground?  Any other advice or important information for those looking to camp here?  Please leave a comment and share!  Cheers!  Jan

    7 Comments

  1. Can’t thank you enough for your excellent photos and commentary. We were debating between reserving B50 and B56 at Watchman–both available. Thanks to you, we can look forward to occupying B56 for two weeks next year. Thanks.

    • Hi Ted! Enjoy! I can’t wait to go back … hopefully without the spring break crowds next time! Cheers! Jan

  2. Everything you say about Zion National Park, Watchman Campground, and hiking is spot on. In 2014 my son and I stayed in Watchman on the F-loop which is walk-in for tents. I was thrilled to wake up and look out at the spectacular scenery. We later drove around tent loops D and E and made notes for the future.

    The walk in F-loop has no shade, and so were never there during the daytime hours. This time we want some shade. We put our reservations in early for June 2016 and were fortunate to nail down our favorite spot on the D-loop.

    In regards to hiking: Yes, the Angels Landing trail is crowded. We did a one night backpack to La Verkin Creek on the north side of the park. It was not crowded at all. You have to reserve your backcountry spots, too. Reservations are not needed for most day hikes.

    In Zion, Watchman Campground is by reservation, but South Campground is first come first serve. For the backcountry sites the odd-numbered sites are by reservation, and the even numbered sites on a walk in basis.

    We secured a walk-in site for the Virgin River Narrows. That was not crowed at all, until we hit Big Springs. That’s the turnaround point for the people hiking up for the day. As we were closer and closer to the trailhead, the crowds definitely thickened. I think the park service does an outstanding job at managing the backcountry to maintain the integrity of the wilderness experience.

    Other less traveled hikes are the West rim and East Rim trails, which we will do this June. We stopped at the Hop Valley trailhead off the Zion-Kolob Terrace Road. There was not one car parked there! There are other hikes in the higher country that afford perspectives of the park that you don’t see when in the mobbed areas.

    If you are headed to Zion and can’t find a campground spot in one of the park’s two main campgrounds, there is a private campground just outside of the east entrance. There is also free camping on some BLM land going part way up the Zion-Kolob Terrace Road. If you go all the way up the Kolob Terrace Road and out of the park, there is dispersed camping allowed around Kolob Reservoir. Caution: The Zion-Kolob Terrace Road has some steep sections. It isn’t recommended certainly for larger RV’s.

    • Thanks Nick! Great information! Cheers — Jan

      • I forgot to ask you about the tent. I’m assuming that there are two of you traveling. Do you sleep in the tent when the weather is warm, or do you have another purpose for it? I might add that I’m really impressed with your website.

        • Hi Nick! We had friends traveling with us for 5 weeks and the tent you saw at Zion Nat’l Park/Watchman was theirs. They decided our little Lance was too crowded for 4 people for that length of time & brought their own tent. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoy TrailerTraveler.net, I enjoy writing & photography so it’s a natural for me! Cheers! Jan

  3. We had always stayed at lodges and hotels on previous visits to national parks. We initially thought that would work this time. Not so, too many pet restrictions. We had to make some adjustments. One suggestion was that we not take the dogs. That idea was immediately shot down. We turned our attention to getting an RV.

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