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9 national parks requiring reservations in 2022

May 31 2022
7 min read
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

There’s no question that national park vacations continue to be extremely popular.

Around the country, parklands are still welcoming eager travelers seeking wide-open spaces and a change of scenery — whether that's mountains, forests, canyons, coastlines or other terrain.

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However, this surge in popularity has led to some changes that make spur-of-the-moment trips a bit more difficult. In order to ensure that visitors get the best experience possible, many of the more popular parks now require guests to make advance reservations for their favorite park or trail. Even at parks where reservations aren’t strictly required, they are recommended as a way to avoid long waits for entry.

Requirements are changing quickly, so before you book that hotel or vacation rental near a national park make sure you check the park’s requirements and make plans as far in advance as possible so that your visit to one of the nation’s most beautiful outdoor spaces is a smooth one.

Why are national parks requiring reservations?

Advance reservations to enter the parks and to access popular routes and trails were introduced as a way to help with social distancing and overcrowding that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, as the popularity of national parks continues to skyrocket as Americans return to travel with fresh zeal, reservation requirements in many parks seem set to continue indefinitely.

Here are some of the popular national parks that will still require reservations in 2022.

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Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. (Photo by J. Scott Clark/The Points Guy)

Yosemite National Park

Anyone interested in visiting California's Yosemite National Park during peak times, from 6 a.m. and 4 p.m., will be required to make advance reservations through Sept. 30. These reservations are required even if you're just planning to drive through the park and not stop, although those with reservations for campgrounds or other lodging within the park won't have to make any additional reservations.

Those with wilderness permits (such as for backpacking, overnight climbing or other wilderness stays) or permits for hiking to Half Dome are also exempt from the peak times reservation rule.

Glacier National Park. (Photo by HaizhanZheng/Getty Images)

Glacier National Park

Through Sept. 11, Glacier National Park in Montana will require vehicle reservations to access Going-to-the-Sun Road at the West Entrance, St. Mary Entrance and the new Camas Entrance to the park. The ticketing system is intended to help manage traffic in the park during the busy summer season.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. (Photo by Mark Brodkin Photography/Getty Images)

Arches National Park

With the attraction of more than 2,000 natural red rock structures, Arches National Park in Utah has a timed-entry ticketing system in place until Oct. 3. Tickets go on sale three months in advance and may be purchased at Recreation.gov.

There are also a limited number of tickets available one day before entry, but these tickets usually sell out quickly.

Related: Explore Utah's national parks with TPG's guide to the 'Mighty Five'

The Watchman in Zion National Park. (Photo by Justin Reznick Photography/Getty Images)

Zion National Park

Though Zion National Park in Utah has discontinued the use of ticketed reservations for the park’s shuttle service, there is a pilot lottery scheme in place to obtain permits for the iconic Angels Landing hike.

The park also requires permits for activities such as canyoneering, hiking and camping, all in an effort to avoid overcrowding both for preservation reasons and to ensure a better experience for visitors.

Related: This hotel near Zion National Park may be the best SpringHill Suites on Earth

Shenandoah National Park. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)

Shenandoah National Park

If you’re planning to spend the night under the stars at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, you definitely want to plan ahead.

Securing space at one of the park’s campgrounds requires advance reservations and the system opens six months in advance. Weekends and holiday slots get taken up quickly so it’s recommended that you secure your place as soon as possible.

Through Nov. 30, a day-use ticket purchased in advance is required to hike in the Old Rag Mountain area. Tickets are released at 10 a.m., 30 days and again five days before the day of the hike (at Recreation.gov).

Related: The 20 national parks that every traveler should see at least once

Elk at play in Rocky Mountain National Park's lush meadows. (Photo by Melanie Haiken/The Points Guy)

Rocky Mountain National Park

In 2020, the 415-square-mile Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado introduced a temporary timed-entry system and that system is still in effect, at least until Oct. 10. Visitors can make reservations either for the Bear Lake Road Corridor of the park or for the rest of the park (excluding the Bear Lake Road Corridor).

The reservation requirement is in effect from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the corridor, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the rest of the park. You don’t need the permit if you already have a reservation for a service such as in-park camping, horseback riding or commercial tours.

Acadia National Park. (Photo by Dermot Conlan/Getty Images)

Acadia National Park

Though travelers don’t need to worry about timed-entry slots to enter Acadia National Park in Maine, through Oct. 22 they will need a timed reservation to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain for inspiring coastal views. Watching the sunrise from the mountain is the stuff of legends. Vehicle reservations are available up to 90 days in advance, with the bulk released at 10 a.m. (ET) two days ahead of time.

Haleakala National Park. (Photo by Ed Freeman/Getty Images)

Haleakala National Park

Seeing the sun set over Maui’s highest peak in Haleakala National Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To make sure you don’t miss out on this breathtaking spectacle, reserve your vehicle entrance pass as soon as possible, as reservations are required for every vehicle entering the park between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Reservations can be made online 60 days in advance, with a portion of reservations released 48 hours in advance. For those who just can’t get enough of the volcanic landscape, the park also has three historic wilderness cabins.

Related: TPG’s favorite national parks: A month-by-month guide

A black bear cub in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (Photo by KenCanning/Getty Images)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Though you can enter the park whenever you like, reservations are now required for all campgrounds within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The system is open for reservations for most campgrounds up to a year in advance, with the exception of the frontcountry campgrounds and horse camps, which are only available up to six months in advance. Reservations and permits are also required for all overnight stays in the backcountry.

Featured photo by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
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