Want to know which national parks require reservations and exactly how to get them? See which popular US national parks are now harder to get in.
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Last Updated: July 6, 2022
Why Do National Parks Require Reservations?
Ever since the pandemic, more people are seeking to spend time outdoors, which has caused a huge strain on the National Parks. After years of record-breaking visitor numbers, parks have started using reservation systems to handle crowds and traffic, and it looks like they’re here to stay.
All 63 National Parks are open in 2022, but these 9 require some type of reservation on top of entrance fees. Keep reading to see how you can get reservations at each of them.
Pro Tip: This annual pass will save you money if you like exploring national parks.
Which National Parks Require Reservations?
1. Acadia National Park, Maine
25 Visitor Center Rd, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, map
Acadia National Park has beautiful lakes, dramatic shorelines, and beautiful forests. It’s especially beautiful during fall with its fall foliage, and they have rock climbing the cliffs along the coast, which is a unique experience.
From May 25 to Oct 22, you need a reservation to drive the Cadillac Summit Road, Acadia’s most popular drive-up spot to arguably the best view in the park. See the photo of Jacob at the viewpoint. Photo Tip – We used a long lens (this one) for the photo.
How to Get Acadia National Park Reservations
Reserve your $6 timed entry slot here. 30% of passes open up 90 days in advance, and the rest open up 2 days in advance of the date you want to visit.
2. Arches National Park, Utah
From Apr 3 to Oct 3, you need a timed park entry ticket between 6 am and 5 pm.
How to Get Arches National Park Reservations
Reservations for Timed Entry Tickets are available on the first of the month for 3 months later (ie. get your July tickets on April 1). They will also release a small number of tickets through a lottery system the day before entry.
3. Glacier National Park, Montana
Logan’s Pass Visitor Center, Browning, MT 59417, map
At Glacier National Park, you’ll see glacier-carved peaks and forest-filled valleys. We can see why they used to call it the Switzerland of America because we had the same thought! Going-To-The-Sun Road is one of the top scenic drives in the US and the most iconic part of the park (only open during the summer). Our favorite memories here, however, were sunrise at Two Medicine Lake and hiking to Cracker Lake.
From May 27 to Sept 11, you need a vehicle reservation from 6 am to 4 pm.
How to Get Glacier National Park Reservations
Vehicle Reservations are valid for three consecutive days and have a $2 processing fee. They are released 120 days in advance of the effective day (for July 1, reservations will be available on March 3). Any remaining spots will be released at 8 am MDT the day before the effective date.
4. Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii
Haleakalā National Park has the highest peak in Maui, and with its stunning desert-like landscape, it is an extremely popular place to trek for a sunrise view. Visiting the park any other time of day doesn’t require a reservation, but if you want to enter the park between 3 am and 7 am to catch the sunrise, you’ll need to get a reservation online.
How to Get Haleakala Sunrise Reservations
Make sunrise reservations here. There is a reservation fee of $1 per vehicle. You can make reservations up to 60 days in advance, and they are released at 7 am HST. They also release a portion of reservations 2 days in advance.
5. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
1000 US-36, Estes Park, CO 80517, map
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best parks for those of you who love to hike. There are more than 300 miles of hiking trails where you can spot wildlife, wildflowers, and glacial basins. Because of its increased visitation, they reintroduced entry permits in 2022.
Between May 27 and Oct 10, entry permits are required to visit the park between 9 am and 3 pm outside of the Bear Lake Road Corridor and between 5 am and 6 pm to visit anything along Bear Lake Road.
How to Get Rock Mountain Reservations
Book Your Timed Entry Permit Reservations here. For entrance to the park from May 27 to June 30, reservations will go live at 10 am MDT on May 2. For all the following months, they will become available on the 1st day of the previous month at 10 am MDT (For July, reservations will open June 1 at 10 am MDT).
6. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
3655 US-211, Luray, VA 22835, map
Shenandoah is a popular national park, especially among day-trippers from Washington DC. Besides the hiking trails and waterfalls, don’t miss the 105-mile Skyline Drive.
Between May 1 and Nov 30, reservations are required for Shenandoah’s Old Rag Mountain, a popular hike in the park, that includes the Saddles, Ride, and Ridge Access trails.
How to Get Shenandoah National Park Reservations
Make reservations for Old Rag Mountain here. You can purchase the day-use reservations up to 30 days in advance. It costs $1 and a total of 800 tickets will be available each day. They release 400 tickets 30 days in advance and 400 five days in advance.
7. Yosemite National Park, California
9035 Village Dr, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, map
Yosemite National Park will always hold a special place in our hearts because it was the first park we visited as adults. It’s one of the places we can’t tire of from the tallest waterfall in North America (where you can see a moonbow) to awe-inspiring granite monoliths to one of the hardest day hikes we’ve ever done. But we admit it has gotten more annoying to visit in recent years with the crowds and traffic in the Valley.
Between May 20 and Sept 30, you will need advance reservations to enter the park.
How to Get Yosemite National Park Reservations
Make your Vehicle 3-Day Entry reservation here (cost $2). It gives you day-use in the park from 6 am to 4 pm. Tickets go live on March 23, 2022, at 8 am PST for the entire season. They also release a portion of the reservations 7 days in advance (for May 20th, tickets will go live May 13th at 8 am). If you have a hotel, private lodging, or vacation rental in Wawona, Yosemite West, or Foresta, you do not need an advance reservation to enter.
8. Zion National Park, Utah
1 Zion Park Blvd, Springdale, UT 84767, map
Zion National Park is a beautiful park that has gotten extremely popular in recent years. It has incredible hikes that test your fear of heights or hikes that allow you to walk through rivers with towering canyon walls. We were fortunate enough to hike Angels Landing Trail years ago when it was much less crowded but starting April 1, you have to enter a permit lottery to hike the busy trail.
Between May 20 and Sept 30, you also need advance reservations to enter the park.
How to Get Zion National Park Reservations
Angels Landing Trail permits can be obtained by entering the permit lottery up to three months in advance or as late as one day before the trip. You will have to select your time window, pre-9 am, 9 am to 12 pm, or after 12 pm, to start the hike. Permits cost $3 per person plus a non-refundable $6 application fee. You can apply for a group size of up to 6 people.
9. Muir Woods National Monument, California
1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, map
Muir Woods National Monument was the first national park unit to use a permanent reservation system in 2018 to create a more enjoyable experience for visitors and protect the ecosystem. You need reservations year-round, and there are two types: a car reservation and a shuttle service reservation.
You also never know when they’ll designate this National Monument as a National Park, so it’s always good to get in early.
How to Get Muir Woods Reservations
Make your reservation for Muir Woods National Monument here. Reservations are available 90 days before visiting with additional slots released three days before the visit day. It costs $9 per car for the reservation or $3.50 per person for the shuttle reservation.
Bonus – Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada
1000 Scenic Loop Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89161, map
Although Red Rock Canyon is managed by BLM (not NPS), you can still enter with your America the Beautiful pass, which covers both national park units and BLM land. If you’re in Vegas, don’t miss the amazing outdoor adventures just 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip including Red Rock. The park has a scenic loop with viewpoints for a leisure visit or if you want a challenge, there are hiking trails and world-class climbing. When it’s climbing season, we try to go at least once a week.
The Scenic Drive requires a reservation between Oct 1 and May 31 to give you access between 8 am and 5 pm.
How to Get Red Rock Reservations
Although it’s a good idea to make reservations online here, you can also make reservations at the ticket window unlike most National Parks. Reservations are $2 (in addition to the entrance fee), and you will have to select a time slot (you will have a 30-minute window before or after your time slot before it expires).
Tips for Making National Park Reservations
- Create a recreation.gov account ahead of time. They handle most reservations at National Parks.
- Have backup options. These 15 underrated National Parks are great options as well as these 400+ National Monuments, Preserves, and Historic Sites all managed by the National Park Service. You never know which of these will later be designated a National Park, so it’s good to get in early.
- These reservation fees do not include entrance fees. If you plan on visiting multiple parks in a year, pick up an Annual Pass to save money.
- As soon as you have dates in mind, set up a calendar or email reminder.
- If you are really set on a specific date, have everyone from your group try for a reservation to increase your chances.
Do US National Parks require reservations?
Most parks do not require reservations to enter, but some of the popular parks, hikes, and attractions require reservations or permits to limit the number of people who can enter. It’s best to check the park’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Do you need reservations to enter Yellowstone National Park in 2022?
No, reservations are currently not required to enter Yellowstone National Park.
Do you need a reservation to visit Zion National Park?
No, reservations are not required to enter Zion National Park, but you need a permit if you want to hike Angels Landing Trail. They also require the use of the shuttle system.
Do you need reservations for Bryce National Park?
No, reservations are currently not required to visit Bryce Canyon National Park.
Can I drive through Yosemite without a reservation?
Between May 20 and Sept 30, a reservation is required to enter Yosemite National Park.
Do you need a reservation for Mount Rushmore?
No, you do not need a reservation to visit Mount Rushmore.
Are reservations required for Glacier National Park?
Reservations are not required to visit portions of Glacier National Park. From May 27 to Sept 11, you will need a vehicle registration to drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road.
Do you need a reservation for Acadia National Park?
You do not need a reservation to enter Acadia National Park, but you need a reservation to drive the Cadillac Summit Road from May 25 to Oct 22.
Do you need a reservation for Smoky Mountain National Park?
No, you do not need a reservation to visit Smoky Mountain National Park, but you will need to reserve a campsite if you plan on camping.
Do you need to make a reservation for Canyonlands National Park?
No, reservations are not required to visit Canyonlands National Park.
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust