Overcrowding remains a problem at the most popular U.S. national parks. Just ask the folks at Yosemite.
Yosemite (pictured above) rejoins several other heavy hitters in the National Park System that are requiring advance reservations in spring and summer 2024 for entrance or to take certain congested drives or hikes.
Visitors should make those bookings at Recreation.gov. The reservation will likely involve a $2 processing fee.
If the park charges for admission, you’ll still need to pay that, too. And separate reservations may be required for, say, camping or backcountry hiking (though having a camping or wilderness permit may preclude the need for an additional timed-entry ticket). As ever, it’s wise to read up on entry requirements at the official National Park Service website of the park you’re interested in visiting.
If you’ll need a timed-entry permit, decide on the dates when you’d like to go and then create an account at Recreation.gov right away so that you can grab a spot as soon as one becomes available. Reservations fill up fast. (Here are some strategies for getting in even if you miss the availability window.)
These are the national parks where reservations are required in 2024.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Vehicle reservations are required to drive the park‘s popular Cadillac Summit Road from May 22 through October 27.
Starting February 22, 30% of available tickets will be released on a rolling basis at Recreation.gov for dates 90 days in advance. The remaining 70% of vehicle reservations will become available 2 days in advance each day at 10am ET.
Tickets for the drive cost $6 apiece.
For more information, go to nps.gov/acad.
(Arches National Park in Utah | Credit: anthony heflin / Shutterstock)
Arches National Park, Utah
Things will operate just as they did in 2023, according to the park service. Timed tickets will be required of all vehicles entering the park between the hours of 7am and 4pm from April 1 through October 31.
Reservations will become available at Recreation.gov on a first-come, first-served basis each month for dates 3 months in the future. So, for instance, May reservations open February 1.
A limited number of next-day tickets will be released at 7pm MDT for the following day. Timed-entry tickets will not be required for those with camping permits, backcountry permits, or Fiery Furnace tour tickets.
For more information, go to nps.gov/arch.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Timed-entry season for Going-to-the-Sun Road and the North Fork is May 24 through September 8. Many Glacier requires reservations from July 1 through September 8.
In all three areas, the daily window for the seasonal timed-entry requirement is 6am to 3pm.
Vehicle reservations are valid for one day only—”down from three days in 2023,” per the park service. However, drivers no longer need an advance booking to reach the Going-to-the-Sun Road from the east side beyond Rising Sun.
Reservations become available on a rolling basis at Recreation.gov for dates about 4 months in advance.
A limited number of next-day tickets will be up for grabs at 7pm MDT each evening, starting May 23.
Visitors with lodging, camping, transportation, or commercial activity reservations don’t need an additional timed-entry ticket to enter the park.
For more information, go to nps.gov/glac.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
To combat overcrowding resulting from an estimated 40% increase in visitor numbers over the last decade, the park is putting in place a timed-entry system for two areas: the Paradise Corridor from the southern entrances and the Sunrise Corridor from the north.
Paradise Corridor reservations are required from May 24 through September 2; Sunrise Corridor reservations are required from July 3 through September 2.
The daily window for the requirement will be 7am to 3pm.
Visitors with wilderness permits or reservations for lodging or camping will not need additional timed tickets for entry.
You can book an entry reservation at Recreation.gov approximately 3 months in advance, starting February 21 for the Paradise Corridor and April 1 for the Sunrise Corridor.
Some next-day bookings will be available at 7pm PT for visits on the following day, starting May 24 for the Paradise Corridor and July 3 for the Sunrise Corridor.
For more information, go to nps.gov/mora.
(Elk at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado | Credit: Mike Goad / Pixabay)
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Rocky Mountain‘s reservation system returns May 24 and lasts into October.
As in previous years, there will be two types of timed-entry tickets: one for the Bear Lake Road Corridor along with the rest of the park, and another for all of the park minus the Bear Lake Road Corridor.
The Bear Lake Road Corridor permit will be in effect through October 20 and covers park entry from 5am to 6pm each day. The rest-of-the-park permit will end on October 15 and covers entry from 9am to 2pm each day.
Reservation slots will become available at Recreation.gov a month in advance on a rolling basis (e.g., dates for the end of May through June become available May 1).
Some next-day tickets will be released at Recreation.gov each evening during the reservations period at 7pm MT (that’s 2 hours later than next-day bookings were released last year, FYI).
For more information, go to nps.gov/romo.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Starting February 17 at 10am ET, tickets can be reserved up to 30 days in advance, according to the park service, which has also announced that, following a 2-year pilot program, the Old Rag ticketing system will be a permanent feature at Shenandoah for spring, summer, and fall.
For more information, go to nps.gov/shen.
Yosemite National Park, California
As it returns to summertime reservations, Yosemite is focused on easing overcrowding during the park’s busiest hours with a system called “Peak Hours Plus.” That means visitors will need timed-entry permits for these periods in the spring, summer, and fall:
• weekends (Saturdays, Sundays, Memorial Day, and Juneteenth) from April 13 through June 30
• every day from July 1 through August 16
• weekends (Saturdays, Sundays, Labor Day, and Columbus Day) from August 17 through October 27
The booking window each day during the time frames above is 5am to 4pm. You’ll have an option for a full-day pass or a pass for entry after noon. All passes remain valid for 3 days.
First-come, first-served reservations are available now at Recreation.gov. Once those run out, additional slots will be added one week in advance on a rolling basis.
Visitors with in-park lodging or campground reservations or permits for accessing Half Dome and wilderness areas will not need additional timed-entry tickets. Likewise for visitors entering the park via YARTS buses and on permitted commercial tours.
In addition to the periods of required reservations mentioned above, Yosemite is mandating timed tickets February 10–25 on Saturdays, Sundays, and Monday, February 19 (Washington’s Birthday), for visitors hoping to witness the “Firefall” phenomenon at Horsetail Fall. Go to Recreation.gov to check availability.
For more information, go to nps.gov/yose.
(Hiking to Angels Landing at Zion National Park in Utah | Credit: Flystock / Shutterstock)
Zion National Park, Utah
Though Zion doesn’t require a reservation for entry, the park does make hikers participate in a lottery to hit the popular trail to Angels Landing, a 5.5-mile trek culminating in a view of Zion Canyon from a narrow ridge.
To apply for a permit, you have to pay a nonrefundable $6 to enter the lottery at Recreation.gov, where booking dates are unlocked 2 months in advance. If you snag a permit after the closing of the lottery period, you’ll need to pay an additional $3 fee.
There’s also a lottery for a small number of next-day hiking permits.
For more information, go to nps.gov/zion.
Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
Here’s one that isn’t seasonal. No matter the time of year, visitors entering the park from 3am to 7am need a reservation to catch the sunrise from the top of Maui’s tallest peak.
Alternatively, some sunrise slots are made available 2 days in advance starting at 7am Maui time.
Haleakala doesn’t require reservations for admission after 7am.
For more information, go to nps.gov/hale.