Here are some camping options for those travelling on a budget. For paid camping there are two options: Zion River Resort in Virgin, and Watchman campground at the main entrance to Zion National Park (15 miles from the start/finish line.) If you choose the Zion River Resort, make sure to mention that you’re with the Zion 100 and you’ll get a 15% discount ($35 instead of $41.) This includes a shower, pool, free WiFi, media room, and laundry facilities. They also have a few cabins that can be rented at reasonable rates. Please be respectful and do not try to use their facilities unless you are a paying customer. There are no showers at the Watchman campground.
We will have a “mister/shower” of sorts (made out of PVC) set up at the finish line so that runners can rinse off and cool off.
The following are a few of my favorite free camping options on nearby BLM land. I’ve included a GMAPS link to each one from the start/finish line to help you find it, as well as the GPS coordinates from Google Earth.
This is an area that we used to call “The Cracks” when I was growing up, but I don’t know if locals would know it by that name or if that was just something that we made up.
This would be a very scenic place to camp, as you are right on the edge of the Virgin river gorge and have views of Zion on one side and Pine Valley mountain on the other.
The big attraction here are the deep, narrow cracks that form a maze and are a lot of fun to explore from within and from above. From inside the cracks you can explore the labyrinth and from above you can step right across a 50 foot drop without hardly noticing that it’s there.
Unfortunately this has been used by careless partiers and there is a fair amount of trash at this site. It is just under 4 miles from the starting line. You’ll want to turn south on the dirt road between the BLM sign and an old wooden cattle pen and follow it for about a mile to the canyon’s edge. Here is the GMAP link. Zoom in and notice the fractures in the earth’s surface near the end point. Pretty amazing. The GPS coordinates are: 37°11’55.45″N 113°14’17.03″W
The next place that I’d recommend is about 5 miles up Kolob Terrace Rd. (aka Kolob Reservoir Rd.) next to North Creek. This would be an ideal group campsite for the race as it is not well known and doesn’t see a lot of use by other groups. We will have a port-a-potty there since it is on the 100 mile course and can be used by runners.
You’ll know you’re in the right spot if you see this sign. This is where you’ll park.
You’ll walk across a footbridge and cattle guard and after about 100 yards this is what you’ll see:
Right next to the creek and a nice swimming hole.
Here is a GMAP link to show how to get here. The GPS coordinates are: 37°15’7.84″N 113° 8’10.03″W
There is also this very popular “free” camping area closer to the starting line, but it sees a lot of people and is getting overused and trashed and doesn’t have any bathroom facilities. If you choose to camp here, ignore this sign:
Whoever made this sign is not the owner of the land and donations will not go to the landowner. It is on private property, but the town of Virgin, the county recorder, and the owner of the adjacent land don’t have current contact information or know how to get in touch with the owner. This camping area is straight across from where the 100 milers will leave the paved road along Kolob Terrace Rd. and begin crossing the Virgin desert. It’s about 2.5 miles from the starting line.
There are plenty of beautiful camping spots (such as the image above) along Smith Mesa road, within 10-15 min. of the starting line. Please don’t camp farther than 5 miles into Smith Mesa road (from the Kolob Terrace Rd. side) because after that you would begin to overlap with the section of road that runners will be using. Here is the GMAP link.
Below is one of my favorite campsites, but it can only be accessed with 4wd. It is surrounded by cliffs on both sides and has incredible views. You’ll take Smithsonian Butte Rd. from the Rockville side to get to this little gem. Here’s the GMAP link. And the GPS coordinates: 37° 8’30.31″N 113° 3’40.62″W
While there are many beautiful places to camp up on Gooseberry Mesa, we’d discourage camping there for two reasons. 1)Runners will be running along the access road to Gooseberry Mesa and we need to reduce traffic and dust, and 2)Proximity to the start/finish line. Even though you could drive to the edge of the mesa looking down on Virgin and be within a couple of miles from the starting line as the crow flies, it would take you about 45 minutes to drive to this point.