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Where You’ll Need a National Park Reservation This Summer

4 min read

Image for article titled Where You'll Need a National Park Reservation This Summer (and How to Get In Without One)

Photo: Maks Ershov (Shutterstock)

The U.S. National Park Service reports nearly 300 million recreational visits to their parks in 2021. In an effort to plan for similarly robust attendance numbers this summer, many of national parks have instituted a reservation system to prevent overcrowding and traffic issues and ensure adequate staffing—so if you’re planning on visiting a national park this summer, make sure you plan ahead.

Here are the details on some of the most popular national parks that will be requiring reservations in 2022.

A reservation is required to drive into Glacier National Park, now through Sept. 11, 2022. There are two different reservation options to make, one for the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor (6 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and one for the North Fork (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

Reservations are available on Recreation.gov. If the date you’re hoping to visit is already sold out, check back 24 hours before your desired arrival. Additional reservations for the following day are released at 8 a.m. MT.

How to get in without a reservation: You can still drive into the park without a reservation if you’ve booked a service reservation (including lodging, camping, commercial tours) in areas located inside their West Entrance, Camas Entrance, and St. Mary Entrance.

A reservation will be required to drive into Yosemite National Park through Sept. 30, 2022 when you visit during peak hours, between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. Reservations are available on Recreation.gov; if the date you’re hoping to visit is already sold out, check back seven days before. Additional reservations are released a week out, at 8 a.m. PT.

How to get in without a reservation: You can still bring your car in without a reservation; you’ll just need to arrive at an entrance station before 6 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Additionally, you can drive through the Hetch Hetchy area of the park any time without a reservation.

A reservation will be required to drive into Arches National Park through Oct. 3, 2022, for those driving into the park between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. The park releases tickets on a first-come, first-served basis on Recreation.gov three months in advance, in monthly blocks (i.e. July reservations were released on April 1 at 8 a.m. MT). If the date you’re hoping to visit is already sold out, check back the evening before. Additional reservations are released the day prior at 6 p.m. MT.

How to get in without a reservation: To get your car into the park without a reservation, there is one work around: You’ll need to sign up for the Ranger-led Fiery Furnace Tour ($16 per person).

A reservation will be required to drive into Rocky Mountain National Park through Oct, 10, 2022. There are two options for reservations (which they call “Timed Entry Permits”): First is the Bear Lake Road Corridor option, which is geared towards those interested in visiting Bear Lake, Moraine Park, and Glacier Gorge. There’s also the Non-Bear Lake Road Corridor option, which is geared towards those hiking at Wild Basin, visiting Sheep Lakes, and driving over Trail Ridge Road.

To make a reservation, go to Recreation.gov. Reservations become available on the first day of the preceding month (i.e. August reservations drop at 10 a.m. MT on July 1). An additional 25% of reservations are held back and are available for purchase the day prior at 5 p.m. MT.

How to get in without a reservation: You can still get your car into the park without a reservation acquired via the above method, but you’ll need a service reservation (for camping, a guided tour, etc).

A reservation will be required to drive on Cadillac Summit Road in Acadia National Park Yosemite National Park through Oct. 22, 2022. Visitors have to have a park entrance pass to enter the park and must also purchase a vehicle reservation. Reservations are available at Recreation.Gov and are available for either sunrise or daytime. If the date you’re hoping to visit is already sold out, check back two days before at 10 am ET; that’s when 70% of passes get released.

How to get in without a reservation: Vehicle reservations are not required for any other areas of the park.

Zion National Park is a little different, in that you need a reservation to hike a specific area of the park, not to get in with a car.

For the foreseeable future, a reservation will be required to hike the Angel’s Landing area of Zion National Park. To get a permit, you’ll need to enter the Seasonal Lottery on their website. When you enter, you will get to rank seven days and times or windows of days and times you want to hike. You’ll be notified of your results either way. If you lose, you can still enter the Day-Before Lottery, which opens at 12:01 a.m. MT.

How to get in without a reservation: No permit or reservation is required to visit other sections of Zion National Park. In fact, you can even take the free Zion Canyon Shuttle System to get there.

A reservation will be required to hike the Old Rag Mountain section of Shenandoah National Park through November 30, 2022. To make a reservation, go to Recreation.gov. Four hundred tickets are released a month out, and 400 more will be released five days in advance of the date of your visit.

How to get in without a reservation: Should you be unable to secure a reservation to hike the Old Rag Mountain, fret not; reservations are not required for 14 other sections of the park.