Which National Parks Require Reservations?

by Caitlin Berard
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In recent years, more and more people have been breaking out of their living rooms and soaking up the wonders of the great outdoors. This is an amazing thing – but one that has seasoned outdoorsmen a little annoyed. Because rather than entering any National Park of your choice on a whim, many now require reservations. Which National Parks require reservations, you ask? Here’s a breakdown of each.

Acadia National Park

First up is Acadia National Park, the breathtaking 47,000-acre recreation area located in Maine. A National Parks Pass is required year-round. Additionally, between May 25 and October 22, you’ll need a vehicle reservation. Don’t worry, these can easily be purchased from Recreation.gov and only cost $4.

Arches National Park

Next is Arches National Park. Located in the Moab desert, the Utah park contains over 2,000 natural stone arches, rock fins, and balanced rocks. Because Arches National Park has exploded in popularity in recent years, it’s been forced to enforce a timed entry ticket system.

After purchasing your National Parks Pass, you must reserve a timed entry ticket on Recreation.gov. Tickets can be purchased up to three months in advance and are sold on a first-come-first-served basis. Though additional tickets are available monthly and daily, they sell out fast, so don’t count on a last-minute purchase.

Haleakalā National Park

Haleakalā National Park is a bit different from the rest. This is because it’s most popular during the golden hours of sunrise. Rather than requiring passes all day, Haleakalā only requires visitors to have a reservation between 3 and 7 am.

If you’d like to visit the stunning Hawaiian National Park, you can make a reservation up to 60 days in advance. Again, simply go to Recreation.gov to do so. Don’t forget that you’ll need a parks pass, a reservation, and your photo ID to gain entry.

Glacier National Park

An outdoorsman’s dream, Glacier National Park is nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Montana along the Canadian border. It’s one of the country’s most popular National Parks, so it’s no surprise that you need a reservation to visit.

If your plans include the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor or the North Fork branch of the park, you’ll need a vehicle reservation. Now, these are only required from May 27 to September 11, and only between the hours of 6 am to 4 pm.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Throughout peak camping and hiking season, Rocky Mountain National Park requires timed entry tickets to enter. Unfortunately, peak season stretches all the way from May 27 to October 10. Be sure to snag your tickets early – they go on sale a month in advance.

There are two types of reservations available during peak season. One for Bear Lake Road Corridor, and the other for the rest of Rocky Mountain National Park. Each timed entry ticket comes with a two-hour window of availability.

Shenandoah National Park

Hikers interested in the long-distance Appalachian Trail and the rocky peaks of Hawksbill and Old Rag mountains will now need a day-use ticket to enter Shenandoah National Park. This is only between the dates of March 1 and November 30, but every date not included is in winter so… You’re probably going to need a ticket.

Zion National Park

Good news! Reservations aren’t required to enter Zion National Park in Utah. That said, if you want to hike Angels Landing, you’ll need a hiking permit. The new rule will go into effect on April 1, 2022. And it gets worse.

Because Zion is so popular, you can’t just grab a permit, you have to enter a lottery. The lottery costs $6 to enter and opens two months before the requested hiking period. So, for example, if you want to hike Angels Landing in June, you’ll need to enter the lottery in April.

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