HomeOutdoorsYellowstone National Park Now Allowing Advance Online Reservations for Backcountry Permits

Yellowstone National Park Now Allowing Advance Online Reservations for Backcountry Permits

by Amy Myers
(Photo by: Visions of America/Joe Sohm/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Last year, Yellowstone National Park saw a record-breaking amount of visitors. In response, park officials have created a reservation system to help visitors get the proper permits to explore the park.

In 2021, Yellowstone National Park reported that there were 4.68 million visitors that came through its gates. This was a full million more than in 2020. For lodging, there was 20% less hotel room and campsite availability than usual. For the park, this is great news because they saw an increase in funds. However, for campers, this might be a bit frustrating, having to compete with so many new park enthusiasts for backcountry permits.

To help combat this issue, NPS has set up a system for online reservations for all the park’s activities. These permits allow visitors to access Yellowstone’s 1,000 miles of trails, 293 designated backcountry campsites and endless picturesque views and vistas.

“The ability to make advance reservations will enable visitors to plan their trips ahead of time and provide assurance they will have a permit for their chosen itinerary upon arrival,” NPS stated in a release. “It will enrich the visitor experience by eliminating uncertainty and frustration and improve safety.”

How to Get Permits for Your Trip to Yellowstone National Park

There will be three options available for obtaining backcountry permits: the early access lottery, general permits and walk-up permits. The early access lottery application period will begin on March 1, 2022 and will end on March 20, 2022.

“If selected, successful lottery applicants will be assigned a date and time to book their proposed reservation online during the Early Access Period from April 1 through April 24,” the release stated.

Participants in the early access lottery may only apply for a single reservation during the Early Access Period. To apply for early access permits, visitors must pay a $10 fee, regardless of if they are picked. Successful applicants will pay a $5 per person, per-day fee for the appropriate permits.

Starting April 26, the lottery will be open for general permits. For this option, applicants must pay a $5 fee per person each day, as well as the $10 reservation fee. Yellowstone National Park stated that the early access and general permits will account for 75 percent of the park’s permits.

Meanwhile, walk-up permits will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis up to 48 hours in advance of the reservation. This might be the best option for visitors hoping to add a last-minute trip to Yellowstone National Park to their itineraries. General permits will account for the remaining amount of available permits and are not available online. Just like the process for general permits, applicants will need to pay the $5 per person, per day fee and $10 reservation fee.