The first thing to note about camping is that not all campgrounds are created equal. If you want to camp and have facilities at the same time, there are options for that. If you want to camp in the wilderness and be entirely self sufficient, there are options for that too. Our experience camping definitely varied depending on the place we stayed. Here is a little insight on the places we stayed out west and their rankings.
1st place: Sandflats Campground (Moab-near Canyonlands)
Sandflats had a great location. It was just 5 min from the main street in Moab and had really cool scenery. It was quiet, peaceful and the campsites were large. There were toilets available, tables, grills and fire pits. Hardly anyone was there and we thought the location was beautiful!
Tied for 2nd and 3rd place:
Sheep Bridge Road Campground (near Zion NP)
Lone Mesa Campground (near Arches NP)
These two are tied at second for their locations. Both sites are primitive camping spots (meaning no water, no toilets, no anything), but landed near the top for their sheer beauty. The reason we wanted to camp was to enjoy nature and these two spots make the experience surreal. Waking up to these views is worth it!
4th place: Ruby’s Inn and Campground (near Bryce Canyon)
Ruby’s had nice large campsites but lacked with the view. There were bathrooms, showers, sinks and water stations. Each campsite had a table and fire pit. It also had a pool and a hot tub that campers could use which was a big plus since the weather was really cold when we went. Ruby’s is also the only place that I forgot to take a picture of.
5th place: Mathers Campground (Grand Canyon)
Mathers also had really large campsites, tables and fire pits. Each campsite had its own section of the woods and place to park. It was quiet and peaceful. Since it is located in Grand Canyon Village, there is access to the park shuttles and a convenience store is close by. The toilets and water station could be a little walk depending on where your site is. There were laundry and showers available but you had to drive to a separate location for that. Also, Mathers has a large raven problem that are notorious for stealing things!
6th place: Lone Rock Campground (Lake Powell)
Lone Rock is a somewhat primitive spot that has toilets every so often. Otherwise, you are free to pick a spot anywhere along the beach or on the way down to the beach. I would have given this place a much higher rating because the view and location were really nice. However, the traffic was busy. So busy, that we weren’t able to get a spot on the beach and had to find a spot a little ways back. There were cars, campers and RV’s lined up next to each other all the way down.
7th place: Goulding’s Campground (Monument Valley)
Goulding’s is quite a large production in Monument Valley with a lodge, convenience store and gas station nearby. The campsites are a little tucked behind a rock, so you may or may not get a good view. We ended up switching sites because of a family that was taking up several spots (including ours) and actually ended up with a nice view. The bathrooms are a little far (although there were outhouses closer). The sites had tables and fire pits but were fairly small and some had very little shade. The showers were nice but oddly located behind the check-in desk. There was also a pool for use but the temperature was freezing and it was filled with chemicals.
Last place: Zion Canyon Campground (near Zion NP)
Although Zion Canyon Campground has a few amenities (tables, fire pits, toilets, grills), it was the least favorite place we stayed. The showers were timed at 6 min (which isn’t the worst thing but not great). There isn’t a great view, although it is right next to the river. However, the reason this campground lands at the bottom is because the sites were almost on top of each other. You could hear everything your neighbors said and were sleeping tent to tent almost. This really was an issue because we got stuck next to a group that wanted to play drinking games all night and didn’t abide by the noise curfew. Basically, we paid $39 to feel like cattle shoved in. To us, it was overpriced and not worth it.
More options on where to camp:
We obviously didn’t stay everywhere but did a lot of research on other places to camp! Here are a few others around the parks.
Zion National Park
Zion has 3 campgrounds in the National Park:
South Campground-the site says it typically fills up between 9-noon and that assignments start at 7am. $20/night.
Watchman-takes reservations, this was sold out when I checked on availability 2 weeks before. $20/night.
Lava Point-this one is much further in the National Park and takes about 1.5 hours to get there from the South entrance. They do not take reservations. Only 6 sites available. FREE.
Other options nearby:
Sheep Bridge Road– 15 min from Zion off of Rt. 9. Very easy to find. FREE.
North Creek Kolob Terrace Road– This campsite is along the river. Drive 1.5 miles to the dirt roads (the 2nd is easiest to drive). Their are sites all along the river and you may see some cattle roaming. FREE
Smithsonian Butte– 250 S. Grafton Road. Make sure to camp 1/2 mile out from the road. This one is on a mesa. FREE
Zion Canyon Campground– Showers, fire pits, grills, pool (I think), access to river. $39/night.
Zion Ponderosa– $12/night. Call for availability.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce has 2 campgrounds in the park.
North Campground and Sunset Campground– Both of these typically fill by the early afternoon. $20/night.
Other options nearby:
Ruby’s Inn and Campground– campsites are spread out, tables, fire pits, showers, pool and a hot tub. $31/night.
Moab (Arches and Canyonlands)
Sand Flats Campground– no reservations. 5 min from center of Moab. $15/night.
Lone Mesa Campground– Near Arches NP, walk-in. FREE.
Horse Thief Campground– Near Arches NP, walk-in. FREE.
Up the Creek- In Moab, $32/night.
Kane Creek– $20/night.
Slick road Campground– $39/night
Moonflower– walk-in, $15/night
Jaycee Park Campground– walk-in, $15/night.
Goulding’s Campground– $30/night. Fire pits, tables, grills, showers, pool.
There are several campgrounds around the area, but take note that many places do not offer any shade and it can get incredibly hot.
Both locations are about 10 min from Page.
Lone Rock Campground– You can camp anywhere on the beach, toilets. $14/night.
Wahweap Campground– Showers, facilities, wifi, etc. $26/night.
The Grand Canyon has 2 campgrounds on the south rim.
Mothers Campground– located in Grand Canyon Village. Access to shuttles, Visitor’s Center, laundry, showers. Reservations and walk-ins. $18/night.
Desert View Campground– No reservations. Only 50 campsites. Usually fills between 1-2pm each day. Campfires, grills, no showers. $12/night.
Other options nearby:
Ten X– 4 miles outside of the south rim. Grills, tables, no shower or laundry. Reservations. $10/night.
For more free camp sites, check out Campendium!