Be sure and visit Zapata Falls either before beginning your hike or after completing it. Above the falls, the trail will cross S. Zapata Ck. In 1995, when we visited here, there was no way to cross except on a fallen tree, suspended up to 15' above the creek or, wade across. The trail then climbed steeply, gaining a small ridge which it followed for a while. The trail then continues contouring up the valley on the east side, crossing below some cliffs and two minor drainages. (About 2.25 miles up the trail, another trail turns off to the east #868) for the north fork of Zapata Creek where there is a small, unnamed lake.) The trail to South Zapata Lake stays well above the valley bottom. At about 11,360, the trail crosses to the other side of the creek. There was a nice, primitive campsite near here, if packing in, (about 3.6 miles) before the trail crosses to the west side of the creek. If you like the cover of trees, this is the best place to camp. Up at the lake, there are only willows for cover or windbreak. Or, continue on to Zapata Lake. The trail is mostly forested until about 3/4 mile below the lake. As you approach the lake, there will be willows. There are no sheltering trees at the lake. Suitable camping sites are limited, for the most part toward the northwest side of the lake as you approach on the trail. When we visited here in late June of 1995 (preceded by a heavy snow winter), everything around the lake was still covered in snow. Another camping possibility will come at 11,800 ft. as you exit the last large stand of trees and before you reach the final smaller group of trees a little north of the lake. We're providing some coordinates for this possible location but did not actually utilize this spot and are relying strictly on GE view & data, so this location may not work out. N 37° 35' 52.49" W 105° 30' 46.44".
Some primitive sites as mentioned before in the upper basin. There's not any good camping above the lake.