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Friday, March 06, 2009

Are Camping Reservations Needed Near National Parks In April?

At utah.com we receive many good questions from readers, including the one below. Occasionally we will use this space to share questions, along with the answers.

Question:
My wife and I are planning a driving vacation the last week of April, 2009. We are planning on visiting Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands parks. My question is: Are reservations needed for campgrounds at that time of year? I realize that campsites in the parks are first come, first serve. However, I know there are a number of private campgrounds as well as those in the parks. I would prefer to not make reservations and be tied to a schedule, but if the areas are crowded and camping at a premium, I suppose we would make reservations. Can you advise on how busy camping is in late April?

Answer:
April is perhaps the busiest month of the year in the Moab area, which includes Arches and Canyonlands national parks. Campgrounds there will be packed - both in and out of the parks. The massive Easter Jeep Safari takes place in early April. You have to reserve well in advance for that weekend.

By late April, Moab is settling back toward normal but it will still be very busy. If you plan to be there on a weekend I definitely advise advance reservations. If you come mid-week you can probably find something without much trouble.

Zion Park is also very busy in late April. Again, things fill up quickly on weekends but there is usually plenty of availability mid-week. There are many campgrounds to choose from and they can handle the volume of visitors.

At Bryce Canyon, there may still be snow along the rim, where most visitors concentrate their activities. Daytime temperatures will be mild but nights will still be cold. Some people will be camping at or near the park and there should be plenty of sites available.

Not far from Bryce, Kodachrome Basin Utah State Park is warmer and offers very pleasant camping at that time of year. But it will be packed on weekends.

At Capitol Reef you are back down to a lower elevation and the weather will be nice for camping, hiking and other activities. Capitol Reef does not get as many visitors as our other national parks and so campsites should be available - no problem. If you were visiting over a holiday weekend I'd say get reservations but at other times you should be able to find something.

- Dave Webb

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