Important Reservation and Permit Deadlines for Zion National Park Camping and Hiking 2024

Zion National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the country, and for good reason – it’s simply incredible! Use this guide to plan ahead and reserve all the permits needed for your trip so you don’t miss out.

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Zion National Park in Utah

As a Utah resident, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Zion National Park many times over the years. For better or worse, I’ve seen it change and grow.

There’s no way around it, Zion National Park is getting crowded. Over 4 million people visit Zion every year, and due to the geology of the canyon, space is limited.

With so many people planning a trip to Zion this year, you’ll need to plan ahead. This post will help you plan ahead to get reservations for camping, backpacking, and canyoneering.

In this post we’ll cover:

  • all of the permit and reservation deadlines for Zion National Park campgrounds and hiking trails for 2024
  • how to make campground reservations
  • how to reserve permits for popular hikes and canyoneering trips

Get the most out of your visit and don’t miss a deadline!

Note: For any current park alerts and closures, check here.

Zion National Park Camping

Camping at Zion National Park in Utah

Zion National Park has 3 campgrounds – South Campground, Watchmen Campground, and Lava Point Campground.

South and Watchmen Campgrounds are located in Zion Canyon near the South Entrance in Springdale, UT. Zion Canyon is the main park area where most visitors go.

Lava Point Campground is about an hour’s drive up Kolob Terrace Road from Zion Canyon.

Click here for a map of Zion National Park to help with your planning.

Camping is only permitted in designated campsites, not in pullouts or parking lots. Camping is very popular in Zion National Park, and the spots fill up quickly.

When making your campground reservations, please make sure to read all of the rules and regulations before booking.

1) South Campground

The South Campground is open from early March to the end of October.

You can make reservations for South Campground up to 14 days before your arrival date at www.recreation.gov.

There are no hookups available at this campground.

2) Watchman Campground

Watchman Campground is open year-round for tent and electric campsites.

You’ll need to make a camping reservation:

Reservations for individual campsites at Watchman Campground can be made 6 months prior to your arrival date online at www.recreation.gov.

Campsites are released on a 6-month rolling basis so if you want to camp here during the busy Summer months, you’ll need to plan.

Star trails at Zion National Park during a night of camping

3) Lava Point Campground

Lava Point Campground is typically open from May through September, depending on the weather.

It’s located off of Kolob Terrace Road about 25 miles north of Virgin, UT.

It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to drive to Lava Point Campground from the South Entrance of Zion National Park.

Vehicles longer than 19 feet are not permitted on the road to the campground.

Lava Point Campground now requires a reservation.

See here for more information and campsite availability.

Other campgrounds near Zion National Park

If you can’t get a reservation for a campsite inside Zion National Park, don’t worry, there are plenty more camping options nearby the park, although, you’ll still want to plan in advance.

Possible Lodging Options:

There’s also some nearby BLM land that you can camp on for free. I have more information about how to find dispersed camping here.

Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park

Zion National Park Hiking and Canyoneering Permit Deadlines

Wilderness permits are required for many activities in Zion National Park including backpacking, canyoneering, river trips, and some rock climbing.

In this section, we’re going to cover permit regulations and deadlines for popular Zion canyoneering, day hiking, and backpacking trips.

Rock climbing and river trips are out of the scope of this post.

view from Angels Landing hike in utah

Zion National Park Day Hikes

If you want to visit Zion National Park and do some of the popular non-technical day hikes, you’ll only need a permit if you want to hike Angels Landing.

All other trails do not require permits.

Starting on and after April 1, 2022, everyone who hikes Angels Landing needs to have a permit.

See here for the latest information on when and how to apply for a permit.

Angels Landing is by far the most popular hike in the park. While it is a beautiful view, even if you can’t get permits, there are still plenty of other great hikes in the park.

Amanda backpacking in Zion National Park in the Kolob Canyon area

Backpacking

Wilderness permits are required for all overnight backpacking trips. Here are the important dates you need to know:

DatesWhen Reservations Become Available at 10:00 a.m. MT:
On January 5, 2024Reservations for January 5 – March 31 backpacking trips become available
On March 5, 2024Reservations for April 1 – June 30 backpacking trips become available
On June 5, 2024Reservations for July 1 – September 30 backpacking trips become available
On September 5, 2024Reservations for October 1 – December 31 backpacking trips become available

How to Get a Backpacking Permit:

The online permit reservation system for Zion is now on recreation.gov.

For backpacking in Zion National Park, I’ll walk you through the process below.

Step 1: Check Availability and Select Area

Select the blue ‘Check Availability’ button. On the next page, you choose the area you want to backpack, the date, and the number of people.

This Zion Wilderness Map is helpful as a reference for the different areas and campsites.

Step 2: Login and Book

Once you select your trip dates click ‘Book Now’ and log in to complete the checkout process. You will only have 15 minutes to complete the checkout before you lose the dates.

This process on the new system is so much easier and clearer than it used to be!

Step 3: Pick Up Your Permit

You must plan to pick up your permit in person during open hours at any Zion Wilderness Permit Desk the day before or the day of the permit entry date.

Notes for Permit Success:

  • Plan ahead, look at the map, and know exactly when and where you want to get permits BEFORE they are available, they sell out fast.
  • Once you’re in the system and have your trip selected, make sure to complete the checkout process quickly because they only hold the permit for 15 minutes.
Canyoneering in Zion National Park

Canyoneering Day Trips

All technical slot canyons in Zion National Park require a permit.

Canyoneering combines route finding, rappelling, swimming, and hiking. It’s a lot of fun, but the activity does require advanced planning.  

Canyoneering Permits Are Required For:

  • The Narrows from Top to Bottom (as a day hike)
  • The Subway Hike (in either direction)
  • Mystery Canyon
  • Orderville Canyon
  • Any other technical slot canyon in the park

How to Get a Canyoneering Permit:

To make a reservation for a canyoneering trip, there are two options:

NOTE: You do NOT need a permit to hike The Narrows from the bottom-up as a day hike.

NOTE: To hike The Narrows from the top-down as an overnight hike, see the Zion Overnight Narrows Permit reservations.

river through Zion National Park

Plan your visit to Zion National Park!

Now you’re ready to plan your visit to Utah’s first national park.

Zion National Park is such a special place, and I hope this post helps you plan your trip and maximize all there is to see and do there.

I didn’t grow up in Utah. I didn’t even plan to move to Utah, not to mention live here for 10+ years! It was the desert that captivated me and made me fall in love with everything Utah has to offer.

Seeing Zion National Park for the first time is a moment you’ll never forget.

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If you have any questions as you’re planning, feel free to comment below!

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