Visiting a national park this summer? Better plan ahead

Dec 19, 2021

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National parks remain an incredibly popular travel option. Being stuck at home, indoors for much of the past 20 months certainly has contributed to the demand for a trip to enjoy the great outdoors. That popularity, however, means big crowds during peak travel season, namely summer, which is why some people have started waking up before the sun comes up to get an early start at parks like Arches National Park in Utah. The immense popularity is forcing parks officials to take steps to manage attendance at America’s parks.

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Lake Avalanche in Glacier National Park. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Glacier National Park in Montana has already announced plans to resume its timed tickets system once again in summer 2022 for visitors wanting to experience its famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. That 50-mile stretch of road that crosses the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains, arguably the most scenic highway in the U.S., is one of the most popular aspects of Glacier.

Related: Complete guide to Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park. View from Going-to-the-Sun Road in September 2014. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

You will need a reservation to enjoy the sweeping vistas and outlooks along the road between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day from May 27 through Sept.11. That time of day is usually when the park is at its busiest. If you’re considering a trip to Glacier, tickets are expected to go on sale in March. Be sure to add a reminder to your calendar to make sure you don’t lose a chance to enjoy that jaw-dropping drive. As TPG has written before, demand far outweighs demand for all the activities available in Glacier National Park, so book well in advance to avoid disappointment.

We do want to note that entry will be available without tickets outside of that peak time period, but the full details about that have not been released as of yet.

Glacier National Park sign in West Glacier. September 2014. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Related: What you need to know before planning your national park trip

One important change to 2022 tickets is that they will be valid for only three days instead of seven. Parks officials did this with the hope that it will give more people the chance to experience Going-to-the-Sun Road’s winding cliffside road and those unforgettable views.

If you’re wondering how much time to allow for the drive, the Parks Service says it’s possible to do the entire drive in about two hours if you don’t stop. However, what’s the point of that? Assume you’ll make a few stops to take in the incredible sights and some nice photos for the ‘Gram, so budget around four hours to do the entire drive.

Featured image: Noppawat Tom Charoensinphon/Getty Images

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