Julie National Park, United States 4 Comments

Due to growing popularity and visitation, there are now eleven National Parks that require a reservation in advance. This includes timed entry reservations, vehicle reservations to drive a particular road, or a hiking permit for select trails.

Why are National Parks Requiring Reservations?

For the last 10 years, visitation in the US national parks has steadily been growing.

Contrary to popular thought, this is not due to COVID. The US National Parks were a travel hotspot, even before 2020.

Visitation in the US National Park system peaked in 2016, with 331 million visitors. This number was just a few thousand less in 2017 and visitation hasn’t hit 331 million number again, even during or after COVID (2022 was another big year for the parks, with visitation reaching 312 million, still 19 million shy of 2016 numbers).

However, some of the most visited US National Parks have received an even bigger increase in visitation after COVID, leading to overcrowding and creating long waits to enter the park, congestion on the hiking trails, and parking lots overflowing with cars and RV’s.

To combat these overcrowding issues, several National Parks are now requiring an advance reservation. It seems as if one or two National Parks join this growing list each year. Yosemite is the newest addition to the list.

US National Parks that Require Reservations

As of February 2024, there are ten National Parks and one National Monument that requires an advance reservation.

Here is the list of National Parks that require a reservation:

  • Acadia National Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • Glacier National Park
  • Haleakala National Park
  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Muir Woods

These parks either require a timed entry reservation, an advance reservation for a hiking trail, or an advance reservation to drive a scenic road. Below we list the difference between the reservation types.

Yosemite | National Parks that require reservations

Yosemite National Park

Advance Reservations, Timed Entry Permits & Hiking Permits

There are several types of “reservations.” Here is a basic overview but we go into this in more detail for each specific park.

Timed Entry Reservation: To enter the park within a specific time slot (for example, between 6 am and 4 pm on July 4). This gives you access to the park, or a specific portion of the park, depending on the National Park and reservation type. Rocky Mountain National Park and Arches National Park fall under this category.

Vehicle Reservation: Most of the park is accessible, but a particular road has an advance reservation (for example, Cadillac Summit Road in Acadia).

Hiking Permit: There is no advance reservation to enter the park but a particular hiking trail requires an advance reservation. The best example of this is Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

Travel has entered an age where it is difficult to just show up and enter a National Park, restaurant, or museum, as many of the popular places draw such big crowds that reservations have become a necessity.

So, like it or not, these timed entry and vehicle reservations are most likely here to stay. Here’s what you need to know, so you can plan your trip, make your reservation, and have an enjoyable, stress-free visit to our nation’s incredible outdoor spaces.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This guide does not cover lodging and campsite reservations. This guide only covers those reservations necessary to enter the park and/or drive a particular road or hike a particular trail. But if you plan to stay in a campground or lodge run by the National Park Service, this also needs to be reserved in advance, which you can do on the official website for each park.

US National Parks that Require Reservations

Acadia National Park

Reservation Type: Vehicle Reservation for Cadillac Summit Road

Acadia National Park, located in Maine, protects a stretch of rocky coastline. Called the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast,” granite coastal cliffs, estuary and intertidal habitats, and the tallest mountain on the Atlantic Coast of the United States are found here.

In 2022, 4 million people visited Acadia, making it the 5th most popular National Park that year.

Top Experiences: Drive Park Loop Road, watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain, hike the Precipice Trail, visit Sand Beach and Echo Lake, bike the carriage roads, and watch the sunset at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.

Acadia National Park | National Parks that require reservations

Acadia National Park

 

Acadia | National Parks that require reservations

Acadia National Park in October

Acadia National Park Advance Reservation

In Acadia National Park, visitors must have a reservation to drive Cadillac Summit Road between May and October. This road takes visitors to the highest point in Acadia National Park and it is an extremely popular sunrise location.

In order to drive Cadillac Summit Road between May and October, you will need to make a vehicle reservation in advance.

  • 2024 Dates: May 22 through October 27
  • Cost: $6 reservation fee
  • Purchase Your Ticket: Reservations are made online only at recreation.gov.

There are two reservation types: sunrise reservations and daytime reservations.

The sunrise reservations are timed such that you arrive and park before sunrise. These are the hardest reservations to get so make your reservation as soon as you know your dates of travel.

The daytime reservations have timed entry spots throughout the day. You select the time that you plan to visit Cadillac Mountain, whether it is 10 am or 3 pm. You must enter Cadillac Summit Road within 30 minutes of your daytime reservation.

30% of the reservations are made 90 days in advance and 70% are released 2 days in advance at 10 am EST. The reservation fee is in addition to the park entrance fee.

For more information, visit the National Park Service website.

More Things to Know

The reservation fee is in addition to the park entrance fee.

You can visit the remainder of Acadia National Park without an advance reservation. The only place you need a vehicle reservation is for Cadillac Summit Road.

There is a lot more information about the details of the vehicle reservations on the official National Park website, which you can see here.


Arches National Park

Reservation Type: Timed entry reservation

Arches National Park, located in Utah, is home to over 2,000 arches, the most famous being Delicate Arch. It is a gorgeous park to explore, with its short but sweet hiking trails, mesas, balanced rocks, hoodoos, and desert scenery.

In 2022, 1.5 million people visited Arches National Park, making it the 20th most visited park that year.

Top Experiences: Hike to Delicate Arch, see Balanced Rock and the Fiery Furnace, hike the Devils Garden Trail, visit Double Arch, Turret Arch, and Windows Arch, hike Park Avenue.

Things to do in Arches

North Window Arch

 Things to do in Arches National Park | National Parks that require reservations

Park Avenue

Arches National Park Timed Entry Reservation

In order to enter Arches National Park, you must have a timed entry reservation. Without this, you will not be allowed to enter the park.

Dates: April 1 through October 31, 2024 from 7 am to 4 pm
Cost: $2 (this is in addition to the entrance fee)
Make your reservation: recreation.gov or by phone 877-444-6777

You can enter Arches National Park before 7 am and after 4 pm without an advance reservation.

The majority of timed entry tickets are released 3 months in advance. There will be a limited number of tickets available one day prior to entry at 7 pm MDT on recreation.gov.

If you plan to visit Arches National Park in April (from the 1st to the 30th), tickets become available on January 2 at 8 am MST. And if you plan to visit Arches National Park in March, tickets become available February 2 at 8 am MST. And so on, through October. See the full schedule on the NPS website.


Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Reservation Type: Timed Entry Reservation

Carlsbad Caverns is an underground fantasy land of limestone chambers, stalactites and stalagmites, and long, twisting tunnels. It contains an astounding number of cool looking rock formations, including ribbon-like curtains, totem poles and soda straws, and it’s truly a sight to behold.   

Top Experiences: Explore the caverns, watch as bats emerge from the natural entrance of the cave, walk a surface trail, view the night sky, and drive Walnut Canyon Desert Drive.

In our Guide to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, learn more about the best things to do and get helpful tips to have the best experience.

Carlsbad Caverns

Inside Carlsbad Caverns

 

Natural Entrance Carlsbad Caverns

The Natural Entrance into Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns Timed Entry Reservation

Timed entry reservations are required to enter Carlsbad Caverns National Park. These timed entry reservations are required all year, with the only exceptions being the days the park is closed (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day). Reservations cost $1 which is in addition to the $15 park entrance fee. They are released 30 days in advance. 

Make your reservation on recreation.gov. Learn more on the National Park Service website.


Glacier National Park

Reservation Type: Vehicle Reservation

With glacier-capped mountains, dazzling aquamarine lakes, and some of the most exciting hiking trails in the country, it’s no wonder that Glacier National Park is called the “Crown of the Continent.”

Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the best scenic drives in the United States. With that being said, it also draws a huge number of visitors. Timed entry reservations are now necessary to drive this road and to access a few other popular areas of the park.

In 2022, Glacier was the 10th most visited US National Park.

Top Experiences: Drive Going-to-the-Sun Road, visit Many Glacier, hike to Grinnell Glacier and Hidden Lake, visit Logan Pass, hike the Highline Trail, visit Two Medicine, see Wild Goose Island, and spend some time at Lake McDonald.

Glacier National Park | National Parks that require reservations

Glacier National Park (photo taken on the hike to Grinnell Glacier)

 

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Glacier National Park Vehicle Reservation

In 2024, there are three areas of the park where you will need a vehicle reservation. These areas include Going-to-the-Sun Road, Many Glacier, and North Fork.

Dates that You Will Need a Vehicle Reservation:

  • Going-to-the-Sun Road (West Entrance): May 24 to September 8, 6 am to 3 pm
  • North Fork: May 24 to September 8, 6 am to 3 pm
  • Many Glacier: July 1 to September 8, 6 am to 3 pm

You will be able to enter Going-to-the-Sun Road from the East Entrance and Two Medicine without a reservation.

Vehicle reservations have a processing fee of $2 and are valid for one day. A portion are released 120 days in advance starting January 25, 2024 at 8 am MST and the remainder are released at 7 pm MDT the day before the effective date. These reservations are limited so make yours in advance!

The vehicle reservation is an additional fee. You also have to pay the park entry fee. If you have an America the Beautiful Pass, you still need a vehicle reservation.

Make your vehicle reservation on Recreation.gov.

There are checkpoints on each of these roads where you will show your reservation permit. You cannot purchase them at the entrance station…you must reserve the permit in advance.

You do not need a vehicle reservation if you are staying in lodging inside of the park (this includes campsites) or if you will be taking a commercial tour.

For a full list of exemptions, visit the National Park Service website.


Haleakala National Park

Reservation Type: Vehicle Reservation

Haleakala is a massive volcano that makes up more than 75% of the island of Maui.

Watching the sun rise above the clouds is the #1 thing to do in Haleakala National Park. It is such a popular experience that you now must have an advance reservation to drive to the summit before sunrise.

Top Experiences: Watch the sunrise above the clouds, hike the Sliding Sands Trail, visit the viewpoints on the Haleakala summit, hike the Pīpīwai Trail, visit the Seven Sacred Pools of ‘Ohe’o, and go stargazing.

Haleakala Sunrise | National Parks that require reservations

Sunrise at Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park Reservation

In order to enter the park early enough to watch the sunrise, you must make a reservation in advance. This is such a popular experience that the National Park Service requires an advance reservation to avoid overcrowding at the summit. These reservations allow you to enter the park between the hours of 3 am to 7 am.

If you do not have an advance reservation, you cannot enter the park until 7 am. From the park entrance, it takes another 30 minutes of driving to get to the summit.

Reservations can be made online up to 60 days in advance. The tickets are released at 7:00 am HST and usually sell out in 15 minutes. A second batch of tickets are released 48 hours in advance. You can only make your reservation online using the recreation.gov website. You cannot call to make your reservation or get one at the visitor center.

The ticket is free although there is a $1 reservation fee per ticket.

For more information about the reservation process, here is the link to the National Park Service website. And here is the link to make your reservation on the recreation.gov website.

If you are unable to get a reservation, you can either visit at sunset instead, or join a tour that includes sunrise on the summit.

If the idea of waking up super early to watch a sunrise is not the way you plan to spend your vacation, sunset is also fantastic. And there is no reservation necessary for this experience.


Mount Rainier National Park

Reservation Type: Timed Entry Reservation

Mount Rainier is a glacier-capped, active volcano that can be seen from hundreds of miles away. Hiking the trails and driving the scenic roads around Mount Rainier top the list of things to do here.

This is a fairly large park with multiple areas to visit. The Paradise and Sunrise corridors are the most popular areas to visit and visitors will now need a timed entry permit from late spring through summer to enter these areas.

In 2022, 1.6 million visited the park, making it the 16th most visited park that year.

Top Experiences: Hike the Skyline Trail, visit Sunrise and hike the Sourdough Ridge Trail, see Myrtle Falls, visit the Grove of the Patriarchs, hike the Wonderland Trail, ride the Mount Rainer Gondola to Crystal Mountain, and hike to a fire lookout tower.

Mount Rainier and Myrtle Falls

Myrtle Falls (Paradise Corridor)

 

Hiking from Fremont Fire Lookout

Hiking from the Fremont Fire Lookout (Sunrise Corridor)

Mount Rainier Timed Entry Reservations

In order to enter the Paradise and Sunrise corridors, a timed entrance permit is necessary during peak season.

Dates for the Paradise Corridor: May 24 through September 2, 2024 between 7 am and 3 pm
Dates for the Sunrise Corridor: July 3 through September 2, 2024 from 7 am to 3 pm
Cost: $2; this is in addition to the park entrance fee
Make your reservation: recreation.gov

A portion of the timed entry reservations are released 90 days in advance at 8 am PT in three separate blocks. The first reservations are released February 21, 2024, for permits between May 24 and June 30. Permits are also released on April 1 and May 1. Visit the National Park Service website for the schedule of release dates.

The remainder of the permits become available at 7 pm PT the day before the arrival date. So, a permit for July 1 becomes available at 7 pm PT on June 30.

Reservations are valid for a 2-hour entry time (you will have to enter the park some time during this 2-hour window, which you will choose when you make your reservation). If you will be in the park or visit a corridor multiple days, you will need a permit for each day.

You can enter the Paradise and Sunrise corridors of Mount Rainier National Park before 7 am and after 3 pm without a reservation.

If you are staying in lodging in the park, you do not need a permit for that section of the park (for example, if you are staying at Paradise Inn, you do not need a permit for the Paradise corridor, but you will need a permit for the Sunrise corridor).

I recommend reading the FAQ section on the NPS website because it is packed with information about the permit.


Rocky Mountain National Park

Reservation Type: Timed entry tickets

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the highest national parks in the USA. There are sixty mountain peaks over 12,000 feet and many of these top out over 13,000 feet. Hiking and driving Trail Ridge Road top the list of things to do here.

In 2022, over 4 million people visited Rocky Mountain National Park, making it the 4th most visited park that year.

Top Experiences: Drive Trail Ridge Road, hike to Emerald and Dream Lakes, drive Old Fall River Road, hike to Sky Pond or Chasm Lake, take a stroll around Bear Lake, and take your pick from more of the great hikes to do in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Hiking to Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

 Rocky Mountain National Park | National Parks that require reservations

On the trail to Chasm Lake

Rocky Mountain National Park Reservations

To visit Rocky Mountain National Park from May 24 to October 20, 2024, you will need to reserve a permit in advance.

This has been implemented to limit crowds at the busiest sections of the park during the peak visitation season (the summer months).

Reservations are made online on the recreation.gov website. Each daily reservation costs $2 per vehicle, which is in addition to the $25 daily entrance fee or $35 weekly entrance fee per vehicle. 

There are two different types of timed entry permits.

Park Access +: This permit gives you access to everything in Rocky Mountain National Park. It includes Bear Lake Road and the hikes that start here (Bear Lake, Emerald and Dream Lakes, Alberta Falls, Sky Pond, Hallett Peak, and Sprague Lake). The permit is in effect from 5 am to 6 pm.

Park Access: This permit gives you access to everything in Rocky Mountain National Park except for Bear Lake Road. You can drive Trail Ridge Road, visit the Alpine Visitor Center, hike to Longs Peak and to Chasm Lake, and hike Gem Lake. The permit is in effect from 9 am to 2 pm. 

Timed entry tickets become available about one month in advance. On May 1, at 8 am MT, tickets become available for May 24 through June 30. On June 1, tickets become available for the month of July. And so on, with September 1 being the final release date (for tickets in October).

The official National Park Service website lists when the permits become available and has more information about the permits. Visit recreation.gov to make your reservation.


Shenandoah National Park

Reservation Type: Old Rag Day-Use Ticket

Shenandoah National Park preserves a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Skyline Drive is the main thoroughfare through the park, a road that twists and turns for 105 miles from north to south. For those who want to explore the park beyond Skyline Drive, 500 miles of hiking trails travel through the park.

This park’s most popular hiking trail, Old Rag, now requires a permit, to help ease crowd control.

Top Experiences: Drive Skyline Drive and visit the overlooks, hike to the top of Bearfence Mountain, hike Old Rag, visit Dark Hollow Falls, enjoy the view from Hawksbill Mountain, hike to Mary’s Rock, and hike a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Old Rag

The view from Old Rag

 

Shenandoah | National Parks that require reservations

Shenandoah National Park in October

Shenandoah National Park Reservations

From March 1 to November 30, you will need to have a day use permit to hike Old Rag. This is to limit the number of hikers on this very popular trail.

Tickets cost $1 and you can purchase it in advance on recreation.gov. Tickets are not available at the trailhead. Every person is required to have a ticket, regardless of age.

800 tickets are available each day. 400 are released 30 days in advance of the reservation date and the second half are released 5 days in advance. Tickets are released at 10 am EST.

The remainder of Shenandoah National Park is accessible without a reservation.

Learn more on the National Park Service website.

US National Parks List


Yosemite National Park

Reservation Type: Timed Entry Ticket & Hiking Permit (Half Dome)

Yosemite National Park is home to one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States. Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Valley are some of the most iconic and photographed landmarks in the US National Parks.

This is also one of the most visited parks, attracting 3.7 million people in 2022, putting it 6th on the most visited list that year. In 2023, there were wait times of over 3 hours to enter the park on some days. In response to this, visitors must now make a reservation in advance to enter the park during its busy seasons.

Top Experiences: See Bridalveil Falls, hike the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls, visit Tuolomne Meadows, hike to the top of Half Dome, enjoy the view from Glacier Point and Tunnel View, hike the Yosemite Falls Trail, visit Taft Point, and visit Mariposa Grove.

John Muir Trail Yosemite National Park

Hiking the John Muir Trail in Yosemite

 USA Road Trip with Yosemite | National Parks that require reservations

The view from Glacier Point

 

Horsetail Fall

Horsetail Fall | Gregory B Cuvelier/shutterstock.com

Yosemite National Park Reservations

There are two periods of time when a reservation to enter Yosemite is necessary: in February to see Horsetail Fall and from mid-April through October, when visitation is at its peak.

February 2024 Reservations

February is a busy time to visit Yosemite, when Horsetail Fall is illuminated at sunset, giving it an orange, fiery glow.

Visitors must have a reservation to enter the park on the weekends of February 10 and 11, February 17 to 19, and February 24 and 25. Even if you have no intention of seeing Horsetail Fall, you must still make a reservation.

April through October Reservations

Here are the dates and times when it is necessary to make a reservation to enter Yosemite National Park:

  • April 13 through June 30: A reservation is required on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays (May 27 and June 19) to enter the park between 5 am and 4 pm.
  • July 1 through August 16: A reservation is required every day between 5 am and 4 pm.
  • August 17 through October 27: A reservation is required on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays (September 2 and October 14) to enter the park between 5 am and 4 pm.

If you have a lodging reservation within the park, a wilderness or Half Dome permit, or a vacation rental in Wawona, Yosemite West, or Foresta, you do not need a reservation to enter the park.

You are allowed to enter the park before 5 am and after 4 pm with a permit.

How to Make Your Reservation

Horsetail Fall Reservations

For February reservations, 50% of reservations become available on December 1 at 8 am Pacific time on recreation.gov. The remainder of the reservations become available two days prior to the reservation date, at 8 am Pacific time. For more information, visit the National Park website and click on “Horsetail Fall Reservations: When and how to get them.”

Peak Season Reservations

For reservations from mid-April through October, reservations become available on January 5, 2024 at 8 am Pacific time on recreation.gov. Most of the reservations will be released at this time (the official website gives no indication how many this will be). The remainder are released seven days before the arrival date (for example, for an arrival date of July 10, the reservation is released on July 3).

These reservations cost $2 and are valid for 3 consecutive days.

Get more information on the National Park website.

Half Dome Permit

If you also have plans to hike Half Dome, you will need a permit to do so. This is done by a lottery system. From March 1 to March 31, enter the lottery on recreation.gov. Lucky lottery winners are notified in April. Learn more here.

Half Dome Cables Yosemite

The Half Dome cables


Zion National Park

Reservation Type: Hiking/Wilderness Permits: Angels Landing, Subway & hiking the Narrows from the top-down

Zion National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in the USA. In 2022, it received close to 5 million visitors, making it the 3rd most visited park that year.

Currently, the only reservation you will need is to hike one of three trails in the park (Angels Landing, the Subway, and from the Narrows top-down). There is no reservation necessary to visit the remainder of the park or to ride the park shuttle.

Top Experiences: Hike Angels Landing, Observation Point, Hidden Canyon, Riverside Trail, Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, and Canyon Overlook. One of the best experiences in the park is hiking the Zion Narrows.

Angels Landing Steps

The Angels Landing Trail

Zion National Park Reservations

Angels Landing

If you plan to hike Angels Landing, you must have a permit. Angels Landing has had record traffic in the past few years, creating long lines to get onto the chains. In response to this, the National Park Service now requires hikers to have a permit, in order to limit the number of people on the trail.

Permits are awarded by lottery, both seasonally and the day before your planned hike. It costs $6 to enter an application and if you are one of the lucky lottery winners, you will pay $3 per person.

A permit is necessary all year. Permits are released in groups, in roughly 3-month blocks of time. For dates of the seasonal lotteries, how the day-before lottery works, and the link to enter the lottery, visit the National Park Service website.

Tim on the Angels Landing Trail

Tim on the Angels Landing Trail

 

View from Angels Landing | National Parks that require reservations

The view from Angels Landing

The Subway

To hike the Left Fork of the Subway in Zion, a wilderness permit is necessary from April through October, whether you plan to hike from the bottom-up or do the top-down canyoneering route. Permits are awarded in a lottery 2 months in advance. Get the full details here.

The Narrows from the Top-Down

The Narrows is another extremely popular hike in Zion. There are two ways to hike the Narrows.

Most people do this hike from the bottom-up, starting at Riverside Walk, hiking upriver for a few miles, then turning around and retracing their steps. No permit is necessary for hiking the Narrows from the bottom-up.

The top-down route is a 16-mile point-to-point journey along the entire length of the Narrows. It can be done as one big day hike or split into a 2-day backpacking trip. A wilderness permit is necessary for both options. Permits become available 2 months in advance and are required all year.

Zion Narrows

The Narrows

 

Zion Narrows Hike

The Narrows


Muir Woods National Monument

Reservation Type: Parking reservation

Muir Woods National Monument is located just outside of San Francisco, California. This national monument protects the old growth coastal redwoods that grow here.

To prevent overcrowding, visitors must have a parking reservation. These reservations are required all year and you will reserve a 30-minute arrival window. Reservations can sell out, especially on weekends and holidays, so make your reservation in advance. Reservations can be made up to 3 months in advance.

Learn more on the official website.

Muir Woods

Muir Woods


When to Make Your Timed Entry Reservations

Here’s when to mark your calendars for making your reservations in advance. If you plan to visit one of these parks, double check the reservation dates on the official National Park website (these updates are accurate as of February 2024 but there is always the chance that something could change).

Acadia National Park: 30% of the reservations are made 90 days in advance and 70% are released 2 days in advance at 10 am EST.

Arches National Park: Timed entry tickets are necessary from April 1 through October 31. Tickets are released 3 months in advance (for example, tickets for the month of April are released on January 2 at 8 am MST).

Carlsbad Caverns National Park: Reservations are necessary all year and are released 30 days in advance.

Glacier National Park: Vehicle reservations are necessary from May 24 to September 8, depending on the area of the park you plan to visit. Tickets are released 120 days in advance, with the first batch becoming available January 25, 2024 at 8 am MST.

Haleakala National Park: Vehicle reservations are required all year in order to drive to the summit before sunrise. Reservations can be made online 60 days in advance at 7 am HST with a second batch that are released 48 hours in advance.

Mount Rainier National Park: Timed entry tickets are necessary from May 24 through September 2. Permits are released roughly 90 days in advance, with the first batch released February 21. 

Rocky Mountain National Park: Timed entry tickets are necessary from May 24 to October 20. These tickets become available roughly one month in advance, with the first release on May 1.

Shenandoah National Park: A day-use ticket is necessary to hike Old Rag from March 1 through November 30. These become available 30 days in advance of the reservation date. The remainder of the park is accessible without a reservation.

Yosemite National Park Timed Entry: To visit Yosemite in February, when Horsetail Fall becomes the park’s major attraction, reservations first become available on December 1 at 8 am Pacific time and the remainder become available 2 days in advance of the reservation date. For peak season reservations (mid-April through October), reservations become available on January 5 at 8 am Pacific time, with additional reservations available 7 days before the arrival date.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park: Enter the lottery between March 1 and March 31, 2024. The lucky lottery winners are notified mid-April.

Zion National Park: For those who want to hike Angels Landing, the Subway, or the Narrows from the top-down, you will need a permit. However, you do not need a permit or advance reservation to enter Zion National Park or to ride the shuttle.

Muir Woods National Monument: A parking reservation is necessary year round. Reservations can be made up to 3 months in advance.

Sky Pond

Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park

Tips for Making Your Reservations

The first thing to do is to note when permits become available for the parks you plan to visit. For some parks, such as Glacier National Park, tickets become available as soon as January, so it’s important to start your planning at the start of the year, to avoid any unnecessary stress as it gets closer to your trip.

If a park requires a timed entry ticket and you are unable to get one, most parks still allow you to enter very early or late in the day. So, you don’t have to cancel your trip, but you will have to set your alarm clock early.

If you have a timed entry ticket, be aware that there could be a hefty number of people entering the park at the crack of dawn, those who were unable to score a timed entry ticket. Even if you have the first timed entry slot of the day, you could still find parking lots and hiking trails to be more crowded than expected, so it still pays to enter the park a bit early.

If you are on a tour, have an advance reservation for a campground or a backcountry permit, you may not need a timed entry ticket. I recommend checking the details of this on the official National Park website, because there’s a good chance it could save you the additional hassle of making timed entry reservation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which national parks require timed entry?

Acadia, Arches, Carlsbad Caverns, Glacier, Haleakala, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks all require advance reservation. Muir Woods National Monument also requires a parking reservation made in advance.

Does Yellowstone require an advance reservation?

No, Yellowstone National Park does not require an advance reservation.

Can I enter Arches National Park without having a timed entry reservation?

Yes, you can enter Arches National Park without an advance reservation from November 1 through March 31. You can also enter Arches National Park without a reservation from April 1 through October 31, if you enter the park before 7 am or after 4 pm.


If you have any questions about which National Parks require reservations let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about the US National Parks

UNITED STATES: We have TONS of information about places to visit in the United States in our USA Travel Guide. In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries.

VISIT THE US NATIONAL PARKS: Looking for your next big adventure? Read our article about the 15 Best National Parks, where we narrow down the long list into 15 must-see parks. You can also get the full list in our US National Parks Checklist (which has a free printable PDF). Finally, if you are traveling as a family, here are the best parks to visit with kids.

USA ROAD TRIPS: Planning your next big adventure in the USA? Check our our USA Road Trip Guide for travel ideas and sample itineraries.

GREAT HIKES IN THE NATIONAL PARKS: From hikes to the tallest peaks to beautiful coast trails, read our Guide to the Best Day Hikes in the US National Parks. If you prefer to keep your hikes short and sweet, read our guide to the Best Short Hikes in the National Parks.

Read all of our articles about the US National Parks in our National Parks Travel Guide and about the USA in our United States Travel Guide.

 

US National Park Reservations Guide

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Comments 4

  1. Avatar for Craig Harley
    Craig Harley

    Going to Glacier NP on September 6 & 7. Do I need 2 seperate reservations for each day? When do I need to get reservations?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Yes, you will need a reservation for those dates. The reservations are valid for 1 day so you will need a separate reservation for the 6th and the 7th. They become available 120 days in advance. Learn more on the NPS website. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Sheena
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Bryce Canyon does not have any reservations. In Zion, you only need a reservation (hiking permit) for Angels Landing, the Subway, and the Narrows from the top-down. In Zion, you do not need a reservation to enter the park or ride the shuttle. Cheers, Julie

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