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InNational Parks, National Park Planning

These 14 National Parks Require Reservations in 2024

Are you planning a trip to a National Park in 2024? You probably already know that you’ll need a reservation for your hotel and rental car – but did you know that you may also need a National Park reservation? An increasing number of National Parks required timed entry reservations to enter the Park, drive certain roads, or hike specific trails.

After visiting more than 20 National Parks in the past 5 years, I’ve had to navigate the many changes to the National Parks timed entry reservation systems, from Arches and Yosemite to Zion and Rocky Mountain.

As of March 2024, These are the 14 National Parks that require timed entry reservations or other ticketed reservations in 2024:

  • Acadia National Park (Cadillac Mountain)
  • Arches National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park (Carlsbad Cavern Tours)
  • Glacier National Park
  • Haleakala National Park
  • Mammoth Cave (Mammoth Cave Tours)
  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Redwood National and State Park (Tall Trees and Gold Beach)
  • Shenandoah National Park (Old Rag)
  • Sequoia National Park (Mt. Whitney)
  • Wind Cave (Wind Cave Tours)
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Zion National Park (Angels Landing)

Overwhelmed? Navigating the increasingly confusing world of timed entry National Parks reservations and permits might almost make you want to throw in the quick-drying towel and stay home.

But don’t give up! Booking a National Park trip in 2024 is still possible.

This guide covers a complete breakdown of which National Parks require reservations, which National Parks require timed entry in 2024, and other important reservation info you need to know.

Update: This post is updated as of March 4, 2024. The National Park Service frequently updates or changes reservation systems throughout the year – this post will be updated as soon as possible whenever new changes are made.

Half Dome and the granite peaks of the sierra high country from Sentinel Dome in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park requires timed entry reservations in 2024

These National Parks Require Reservations In 2024

If you want to visit one of these 14 National Parks in 2024, you’ll need to plan ahead to enter the Park.

If you’re planning a visit to one of the other 49 National Parks, scroll down to the next section of this post. I’ve included important information on hiking permits, transportation reservations, tour operators, and must-know reservation information for every National Park. Just because you don’t need a National Parks timed entry reservation – doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan ahead!

Acadia National Park (Maine)

A timed entry reservation is not required to enter Acadia National Park – but you will need a reservation to drive on Cadillac Summit Road.

Nestled in the heart of Maine, Acadia National Park is where the rugged mountains and deep woods of New England meet the Atlantic Ocean.

With miles of scenic coastline, epic seafood and quaint vibes in nearby Bar Harbor, and hikes for all skill levels, it’s no wonder that Acadia is one of the East Coast’s favorite National Parks.

Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the eastern seaboard, and famous as the first spot where the sun rises each morning in the continental United States.

From the top, you can take in breathtaking panoramic views of Acadia and the surrounding area.

A trip to Cadillac Mountain is a must-do when visiting Acadia National Park, and naturally its one of the most crowded spots in the National Park.

Due to limited parking and overcrowding, Vehicle Reservation permits are required for visitors to drive on Cadillac Summit Road from mid-May to mid-October.

A permit is NOT required to access other areas of the park, or to access Cadillac Summit by foot, bike, or by taxi.

Cadillac Summit Road reservations must be made online at Recreation.gov. Reservations are not available in-person at the Park.

30% of Reservations are available 90 days in advance, and 70% of reservation slots are made available 2 days in advance, going on sale at 10AM at recreation.gov.

Arches (Utah)

A timed entry vehicle reservation is required to enter Arches National Park.

Explore iconic Southwestern US landscapes on a trip to Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. With over 2,000 stone arches, Arches is home to the densest concentration of natural stone arch formations in the world.

It was also one of the first National Parks with a timed entry reservation system.

Timed entry reservations are required to enter the park during peak visitation season of April – October. These National Park reservations are required for anyone entering Arches in a private vehicle.

Arches National Park reservations are made online at Recreation.gov.

Timed-Entry reservations are released in blocks about 3 months in advance, at 8AM Mountain Standard Time (MST) according to this schedule:

  • April reservations open January 2 at 8AM MST.
  • May reservations open February 1 at 8AM MST.
  • June reservations open March 1 at 8AM MST.
  • July reservations open April 1 at 8AM MST.
  • August reservations open May 1 at 8AM MST.
  • September reservations open June 1 at 8AM MST.
  • October reservations open July 1 at 8AM MST.

A limited number of reservations will also be released one day prior to entry at 7 PM Mountain Time on Recreation.gov

Arches National Park reservations are not required for visitors holding backpacking permits, campground reservations, or Fiery Furnace permits.

Interested in hiking the sandstone labyrinth of Arches’ Fiery Furnace? To access this area, you’ll need either a permit (available 7 days in advance and booked at least 2 days in advance) or a ranger-guided tour ticket.

Brooke’s Insider Tips: Didn’t get an Arches timed entry reservation? I would consider getting up early and entering the park before 7AM. Not a morning person? Consider visiting nearby Canyonlands National Park instead. Canyonlands sees a fraction of the visitors than Arches, and I thought it was every bit as beautiful when we visited in 2020!

Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)

A timed entry reservation is required to enter Carlsbad Cavern inside Carlsbad Caverns National Park. National Park Reservations are not required to access the surface areas of the Park.

Go underground at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. At the foothills of the Guadalupe Mountains, the cave systems of Carlsbad Caverns are some of the largest, most accessible, and most spectacular caverns in world.

Visitors can tour the caverns as part of a ranger-led tour program or self-guided tour. Tickets are required for all ranger-led programs.

Self-guided tours are available using the timed-entry reservation system, and an audio guide can be purchased at the Visitor Center.

As of January, 2023, the Kings Palace Tour is the only Ranger-Led tour program currently available. All other ranger-guided tours of the cave are suspended.

Glacier (Montana)

A vehicle reservation is required to enter Glacier National Park.

Known as the crown jewel of the National Parks, Glacier National Park in Montana is a breathtaking landscape of dramatic peaks and valleys, grizzly bears, alpine lakes and some of the best hiking and scenic drives anywhere in the world.

It also has, in my experience, one of the most complicated National Park reservation systems.

A vehicle pass reservation is required to drive on Going to the Sun Road, North Fork and Many Glacier, roads in the park in Summer 2024. This National Park reservation pass is required for anyone entering in a private vehicle between 6AM and 3PM.

Effectively, a reservation is required to drive your own vehicle into Glacier National Park, unless you are entering with a private tour reservation or lodging reservation. Visitors who have confirmed hotel, lodge, campground, or tour reservations do not need an additional reservation for areas of the Park for which they have a reservation.

New in 2024: A reservation is no longer required to enter Going to the Sun Road from the East / St. Mary Entrance (westbound from St. Mary towards Apgar), or to access Two Medicine areas.

Vehicle reservations are available 120 days (4 months) in advance on a daily rolling basis, starting on January 25, 2024 at 8AM MST on recreation.gov.

Next day vehicle reservations are available at 7PM MDT on recreation.gov for entry the next day starting on May 23, 2024 on a daily rolling basis.

Confused yet? Well just you wait, because the Glacier reservations actually get much more confusing depending on where inside the Park you want to visit.

Reservations are required for the following dates and locations:

Going to the Sun Road ( West from Agpar and West Glacier)

Visitors driving the iconic Going to the Sun Road coming from West Glacier and headed East past the Agpar Checkpoint must have a vehicle reservation between 6AM and 3PM, from May 24, 2024 to September 8, 2024. Vehicle reservations are valid for 1 day.

Visitors can access Going to the Sun Road from the East Side, including the town of St. Mary, do not require a reservation.

North Fork

Visitors to the North Fork area of the Park must have a vehicle reservation between 6AM and 3PM, from May 24, 2024 to September 8, 2024. Vehicle reservations are valid for 1 day.

The North Fork area of the park is rugged, there is no cell service, and a 4×4 wheel drive vehicle is recommended.

Many Glacier

Vehicle reservations are required from July 1 to September 8, 2024, between 6AM to 3PM. Vehicle reservations are valid for 1 day.

The Many Glacier area is home to some of the best hikes in Glacier National Park, including Grinnell Glacier, Iceberg Lake, and Granite Park Chalet.

These Visitors Do NOT Need a Glacier National Park Reservation

A reservation is NOT required to access the St. Mary Visitor Center, Agpar Visitor Center, or the Free Glacier National Park Summer Shuttle and Hiker Shuttles. Visitors without reservations can ride the free shuttles along the entire Going-to-the-Sun corridor. Learn more about Shuttles in Glacier National Park here.

Reservations are NOT required for any visitors with reservations at any lodging located within the reservation corridors, or anyone with reservations for horseback rides, or guided hike and boat tours within the corridor.

Learn more about timed entry tickets for Glacier National Park here.

Haleakala (Hawai’i)

A reservation is required to enter Haleakala National Park for sunrise between 3AM and 7AM.

Visiting Haleakala Summit at sunrise is an unforgettable experience, with the stunning views and vibrant colors of the sun rising over the volcanic landscape of this tropical paradise.

Haleakala is the highest peak on the island of Maui, at over 10,000 feet, and is considered a sacred space to Native Hawaiians.

In order to enter Haleakala and drive to the summit for sunrise, you will need a vehicle reservation.

Reservations can be made 60 days in advance on recreation.gov. Tickets are released at 7AM Hawaii time. A small portion of tickets are released 2 days (48 hours) in advance

Mammoth Cave (KT)

Timed entry reservations are not required to enter Mammoth Cave National Park, but all visitors must purchase a guided tour ticket to enter the Cave.

Head underground at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, the longest known cave system in the world. A guided tour is the only way to explore this vast cave system, and advanced reservations are strongly suggested.

Tickets for the Park’s most popular tours can book up weeks in advance, so make sure to plan ahead!

Mount Rainier (Washington)

New in 2024. A timed entry reservation is required to enter most areas of Mount Rainier National park during peak times and seasons.

Paradise and Sunrise Districts (Pictured) at Mount Rainier Will Require Timed Entry Reservations in 2024

Mount Rainier, king of the Cascades, is the tallest peak in Washington State. This absolutely stunning National Park is one of my favorite parks to visit.

Mount Rainier is the most recent National Park to require timed entry reservations during peak hours and seasons.

Beginning in 2024, Mount Rainier will require timed-entry reservations to enter the most popular areas of the Park, Paradise and Sunrise districts, from 7am – 3pm during the peak summer season.

NEW Mount Rainier Timed-Entry Reservations

Visitation to Mount Rainier has increased in a huge way in the past 10 years to Mount Rainier, leading to a pretty out of control parking and crowding situation. (We got to see this first hand on our recent trip there!) To combat over-crowding, Mount Rainier will implement a new timed-entry reservation system for two of the Park’s most crowded areas, starting summer 2024.

A timed-entry reservation is required for all vehicles entering the Paradise corridor and Sunrise corridor during “peak hours”.

A timed-entry reservation will be required to enter the Paradise corridor from 7AM – 3PM May 24 through September 2, 2024.

A timed-entry reservation will be required to enter the Sunrise corridor from 7AM – 3PM July 3 – September 2, 2024.

A separate reservation is required for each area of the park, per vehicle, for each day of your visit.

Visitors with a confirmed reservation at the National Park Inn, Paradise Inn, or Cougar Rock Campground can access the Paradise corridor starting at 1PM on the first day of their reservation.

Wilderness permit and climbing permit holders can enter the Park without a timed entry reservation for the dates of their permits. Wonderland trail hikers may enter the park a day early to cache food resupplies.

Walk-in and first-come-first-served campgrounds and wilderness permit holders should check the FAQs here for info on how to enter the Park.

A permit is required for all overnight backcountry trips. Rainer backcountry permits are extremely competitive, especially for the Wonderland Trail. Reservations are strongly encouraged. The early access lottery is the best chance for building a complete Wonderland Trail itinerary.

Where are Permits required in Mount Rainier?

Timed entry permits are required in Mount Rainier’s two most popular areas: Paradise and Sunrise. This map shows the areas affected by the new entry requirements:

How to Obtain a Mount Rainier Timed-Entry Reservation

Timed-entry reservations for each corridor will be released in two phases: advanced reservations starting 90 days in advance and day-before reservations. All reservations must be made on recreation.gov.

This chart shows when advanced Timed-Entry Reservations for Paradise Corridor will be released:

Booking window opens at 8AM PTFor reservations in this date range
February 21, 2024May 24 – June 30, 2024
April 1, 2024July 1 – July 31, 2024
May 1, 2024August 1 – September 2, 2024

This chart shows when advanced Timed-Entry Reservations for Sunrise Corridor will be released:

Booking window opens at 8AM PTFor reservations in this date range
April 1, 2024July 3 – July 31, 2024
May 1, 2024August 1 – September 2, 2024

Next day timed-entry permits will be released at 7pm Pacific Time the day before, on recreation.gov.

Redwood National and State Parks (California)

A reservation is required to enter the Gold Bluffs Beach Area, including Fern Canyon, and Tall Trees trail in Redwood National and State Parks. A timed entry reservation is not required to enter other areas of Redwoods National Park.

Marvel at the tallest living trees in the world at Redwood National and State parks in Northern California. You won’t need a timed entry reservation to enter this coastal wonderland, but you will need reservations to enter two of the parks most popular areas: Tall Trees Grove and Gold Bluffs Beach.

A free permit is required to day-hike the Tall Trees Trail, a strenuous trail to a remote grove that takes about 4 hours round trip.

Hikers may apply for a Tall Trees permit between 4 weeks and 48 hours in advance of their visit. Permits will not be issued for hikes less than 48 hours in advance. Redwood Park issues 50 Tall Trees Trail permits per day.

A reservation is also required to park at the Gold Bluffs Beach Day Use Parking area, including Fern Canyon, from May 15 to September 15.

Reservations for summer 2024 will re-open on April 15, 2024. Make reservations for Gold Bluffs Beach Day Use parking, here.

a photograph of rolling green alpine tundra and snow covered peaks in the distance from Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Above the alpine in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain (Colorado)

A timed entry reservation is required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park from May 24, 2024 through October 15, 2024 (October 20 for Bear Lake Corridor).

The snow covered peaks, breathtaking scenic drives, and alpine lakes of Rocky Mountain National Park should be on every traveler’s bucket list.

Located less than 2 hours from Denver, this super-popular National Park began implementing a timed entry reservation system to help manage the massive crowds that descend during peak season.

There are two separate permit reservations for Rocky Mountain, depending on where in the park you intend to visit:

The Park Access reservation allows entrance to any area of the Park, except the Bear Lake Corridor (Bear Lake Trailhead, Glacier Gorge Trailhead, Bierstadt Lake trailhead, Sprague Lake & others). Required 9AM to 2PM.

The Park Access+ Bear Lake Corridor reservation allows access to trailheads and sights along Bear Lake road, the most popular area for hiking in the Park, as well as entrance to the rest of the park. Required 5AM to 6PM.

Visitors with an existing camping, backpacking, guided trip, or commercial tour reservation do not need additional park reservations.

A wilderness permit is required for all backcountry campers, climbers, and backpackers in Rocky Mountain National Park. Learn more about wilderness camping in Rocky Mountain National Park, here.

When Can I Get a Rocky Mountain Timed Entry Reservation?

60 % of all timed entry reservations will be released on Recreation.Gov on the following schedule:

  • On May 1, 2024 at 8AM (MDT) reservations are released to enter the park from May 24 to June 30, 2024.
  • On June 1, 2024 at 8AM (MDT) reservations are released to enter the park from July 1 to July 31, 2024.
  • On July 1, 2024 at 8 AM (MDT) reservations are released to enter the park from August 1 to August 31, 2024.
  • On August 1, 2024, reservations are released to enter the park from September 1 to September 30, 2024.
  • On September 1, 2024 reservations are released to enter the park from October 1 to October 20.

The remaining 40% of available tickets will be made available to reserve on 5PM the day prior to the reservation date on recreation.gov.

Visitors staying at any Rocky Mountain campground do not need to reserve a permit. 1 permit is required per vehicle entering the park.

Both the Timed Entry ticket for the Park and the Bear Lake Corridor reservation tickets will sell out within seconds on recreation.gov, so be prepared to book your tickets immediately!

More details about each of these reservations are provided below.

Timed Entry Park Access Reservations for Rocky Mountain

A Timed Entry Park Access reservation for Rocky Mountain is required to access any area of the park, except for the Bear Lake corridor, which requires a different permit. This permit covers Trail Ridge Road area and Old Fall River Road.

Learn More about Park Access reservations for Rocky Mountain National Park here.

A Park Access reservation is required to enter the Park between 9AM and 2PM.

Brooke’s Insider Tips: I highly recommend arriving at Rocky Mountain National Park well before 9AM to start your hikes early and avoid the crowds. When I visited in 2023, I entered the Park around 7:30 AM and had Trail Ridge Road – one of the Park’s most popular scenic drives almost entirely to myself until 9AM!

an alpine lake surrounded by granite peaks at Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
To access Emerald Lake, you’ll need a Park Access+ Reservation or a hiker shuttle reservation.

Park Access+ (aka Bear Lake Corridor) Reservations for Rocky Mountain

The Bear Lake Corridor timed entry permit allows access to some of the parks most popular trailheads in the Park, including Bear Lake, Cub Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, Nymph Lake, and Sky Pond, as well as all trails that are accessed by Bear Lake road.

The Bear Lake Corridor reservation also allows access for the entire park.

A Bear Lake Corridor reservation is required to enter the Bear Lake area between 5AM – 6 PM.

Learn more about the Bear Lake Corridor reservation requirements here.

What to Do if I Don’t Have a Park Access Reservation?

Can’t get a Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry reservation? Don’t despair! I visited Rocky Mountain National Park in 2023 without needing a Park Access reservation – and you can too!

If you don’t wan’t to hike the Bear Lake corridor, just enter the Park before 9am. I entered around 7:30 AM and had the incredible Trail Ridge Road almost to myself! Even if you have a reservation, I’d suggest entering before 9am to avoid the crowds and see the wildlife – simply incredible!

Want to hike? Consider using the Hiker Shuttle from Estes Park. I used this shuttle in 2023 when I couldn’t get a Park Access+ reservation for Bear Lake corridor. The hiker shuttle departs from the Estes Park Visitor Center and heads directly to Park & Ride Transit Hub inside the Park. From here you can grab a shuttle to your trailhead! The hiker shuttle does require a reservation, but these are much easier to grab last minute, in my experience.

Sequoia (CA)

A timed entry reservation is not required to enter Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. All hikers entering the Mount Whitney zone, including day hikers and overnight hikers, must have a permit.

Are you planning to climb Mt. Whitney? Hiking the highest mountain in the lower 48 requires a special permit, whether you intend to day hike or backpack to the summit. While the summit of Mt. Whitney is located in Sequoia National Park, most hikers access the trail through the Inyo National Forest, which issues the permits.

The “quota season” (when the number of permits is limited) is from May 1 to November 1. Whitney permits are issued by an annual lottery each spring, and securing a permit is highly competitive.

Whitney Permit lottery applications are open February 1 to March 1 on recreation.gov. You can apply any time during this window. Applicants are notified of lottery results on March 15.

Applicants have until April 21 to claim their permit and pay the $15 reservation fee.

Any unclaimed permits are released to the general public on April 22.

Only by the strongest and most experienced hikers should attempt Mt Whitney. Each year, underprepared or inexperienced hikers are injured or killed on this mountain. It is important to have a realistic understanding of your hiking skills before attempting Whitney.

Learn more about hiking Mount Whitney from one of my favorite bloggers, She Dreams of Alpine, here.

orange, red, and green fall foliage on the rolling hills and valleys of Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park requires reservations for some hikes.

Shenandoah (Virginia)

A hiking permit is required to enter the Old Rag permit zone in Shenandoah National Park. A timed entry reservation is not required in other areas of Shenandoah.

The rolling hills and craggy peaks of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia are a popular getaway for families and hikers in the Mid-Atlantic. Among the Park’s most popular trails is Old Rag Mountain.

The Old Rag mountain hike is a challenging hike that offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, and is a must-do when visiting Shenandoah National Park.

In 2023, Shenandoah began requiring a day-hiking permit reservation to hike within the Old Rag permit zone. The permit allows the National Park service to better manage and understand hiking traffic on this iconic trail.

From March 1 – November 30 any hikers or campers on Old Rag mountain must obtain a day-use ticket in advance. This includes hikes on Saddle, Ridge, and Ridge Access trails.

A total of 800 tickets are available for each day. Tickets are issued on recreation.gov. or by calling 877-444-6777. Tickets are not issued in person. Make sure to get your ticket before visiting the park – there is no cell service!

400 Tickets will be released 30 days in advance at 10 AM EST on recreation.gov.

The remaining half will be released 5 days in advance of the reservation date, on a daily rolling basis, at 10 AM EST.

Wind Cave (South Dakota)

A timed entry reservation is not required to enter Wind Cave National Park. All visits inside Wind Cave itself require a guided tour, reservations are recommended.

One of the oldest, but least well known National Parks, Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota offers something for everyone. Explore one of the world’s longest cave systems, and the best example of a “breathing cave.” Above ground, explore the vast western prairie as it once was, where buffalo, elk, and prairie dogs roam.

All access to Wind Cave requires a guided tour. Tickets are available on a rolling daily basis, and often sell out March through October.

50% of tickets are available for reservation online, while the rest are held in reserve for same-day sales, on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you don’t have a reservation, Wind Cave National Park recommends arriving to the park as early as possible to purchase a same-day ticket.

Yosemite (California)

A day use reservation is required for all cars enter Yosemite National Park on select dates in peak season, Fall – Spring 2024 and February 2024. Permits are required for all Half Dome hikes.

granite peaks of liberty dome and a glimpse of Nevada Falls on the John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park.
You’ll Need a timed entry permit to hike this iconic Yosemite trail in summer 2024.

The soaring granite peaks, giant sequoia forests, alpine lakes, and thundering waterfalls of of Yosemite National Park are as iconic as the National Park service itself.

This is my favorite National Park, and one I’ve been lucky enough to visit dozens of times in my life. It’s also an immensely popular park to visit, leading to overcrowding in peak visitor seasons like Summer.

Beginning in 2024, Yosemite will implement a new day use reservation system for all vehicles entering the park during peak season.

Day-use reservations will be required to enter the park in a private vehicle during peak days in Summer 2024 and dates in February, 2024 that coincide with the Horsetail Fall “firefall” phenomenon.

Permits are also required for the Half Dome Hike, and all overnight backcountry camping.

Only one reservation is required per vehicle. For summer reservations, Vehicle reservations are valid for 3 consecutive days.

Visitors with confirmed lodging or campground reservations inside the Park, backcountry and Half Dome permit holders, and visitors arriving via regional public transit (YARTS) or commercial tour groups do NOT need to obtain an additional reservation to enter the park.

Reservations will be required to enter the Park 24 hours a day on the following dates:

  • February 10 – 11, 2024
  • February 17 – 19, 2024
  • February 24 – 25, 2024

50% of all February reservations are available starting December 1, 2023 at 8AM PT on recreation.gov.

The remaining 50% of reservations will be released 2 days prior to the reservation date at 8AM on recreation.gov. For example, on February 23, 2024, at 8AM, reservations for February 25 will become available.

Reservations will be required during “peak hours” of 5am to 4pm on the following dates:

  • April 13 – June 30: Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays only
  • daily, July 1 – August 16
  • August 17 – October 31: Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays only

Most reservations for all peak hours dates will be available on January 5, 2024 8AM PT on recreationg.gov.

Additional reservations will be released 7 days in advance, on a daily rolling basis, at 8AM PT on recreation.gov.

Each reservation is valid for 3 consecutive days. For example, a reservation for Friday, July 5 is valid on July 5, July 6, and July 7.

Half Dome Permit Lottery

A permit is required to hike to the top of Half Dome any time the cables are up. Hiking above the subdome when the cables are down is NOT recommended, and can easily result in fatalities and serious injury.

The cables are usually up from the Friday before the last Monday in May (ie the Friday before Memorial Day) until the second Monday in October. Cables dates are subject to winter conditions. Check cable status, here.

The Half Dome Preseason Lottery issues most permits to visitors looking to experience this bucket list hike. The preseason lottery is for day hikers only. Overnight backpacking trips can include Half Dome on a wilderness permit (see below!).

Preseason Lottery applications must be submitted March 1 to March 31, 2024 on recreation.gov. Applicants must apply for a specific date or range of dates with their preseason lottery application. Preseason Lottery winners are contacted mid-April.

Want to increase your odds? This graph shows how popular certain permit dates are. Applying for a less popular date increases your odds of getting a permit!

The Half Dome Daily lottery is open on a rolling daily basis, and hikers should apply 2 days in advance of their desired hike date, between midnight and 4pm. Hikers are notified of results late on the day of their application. (ie to hike on Saturday, apply on Thursday before 4pm, and get notified on Thursday night).

Learn more about the Half Dome Permit Lottery and apply here.

Zion (Utah)

A timed entry reservation is not required to enter Zion National Park. A permit is required to hike Angel’s Landing and all technical canyoneering hikes.

Explore the red sandstone valley, deep canyons, and desert vistas of Zion National Park in Utah. This iconic southwest Park is one of my favorites to explore, and one of the most visited Parks in the United States.

A reservation is not required to enter Zion National Park, although several of the parks most popular trails, including the terrifying and infamous Angel’s Landing require an additional permit or reservation.

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private cars when the Zion Canyon Shuttle is running. The shuttle typically operates daily from March through November, as well as during the December holidays.

There are 3 types of permits commonly required for visiting Zion National Park:

  • Angel’s Landing Permit
  • Canyoneering Permits, including the Zion Narrows (Top-down) and The Subway (Left Fork of the Virgin River)
  • Wilderness Backpacking Permits

New in 2024: Beginning January 5, 2024, wilderness permits for Zion will now be issued on recreation.gov.

Angel’s Landing Permits

In order to reduce crowding on the dangerous chains scramble section of the trail, Zion National Park started requiring permits for all hikers traveling all the way to Angel’s Landing, as of April 1, 2022.

A permit is required for all hikers traveling beyond “Scout’s Lookout” to Angel’s Landing (aka all “chains” sections). A permit is NOT required to visit Scout’s Lookout (worth the hike even if you don’t have a permit!) or the West Rim Trail.

This map from Zion National Park shows which sections of the Angel’s Landing trail require a permit:

Angel’s Landing permits are issued by 2 different lotteries.

Most lottery permits will be issued through quarterly preseason lotteries. A select number of permits will be issued in daily day-before lotteries.

Angel’s Landing Quarterly Permit Lottery

Most Angel’s Landing permits are issued by the Quarterly Permit lottery. The Quarterly lottery is held 4 times a year, meaning you’ll need to apply for these permits well in advance of your trip.

This chart shows the quarterly permit lottery dates for 2024:

Hiking DatesLottery Application DatesLottery Results Announcement
Dec 1, 2023 – Feb 29, 2024Oct 1 – Oct 20, 2023Oct 25, 2023
Mar 1 – May 31, 2024Jan 1 – Jan 20, 2024Jan 25, 2024
Jun 1 – Aug 31, 2024Apr 1 – Apr 20, 2024Apr 25, 2024
Sep 1 – Nov 31, 2024Jul 1 – Jul 20, 2024Jul 25, 2024
December 1 to February 28, 2025Oct 1 – Oct 20, 2024Oct 25, 2024

Each Quarterly lottery is open for 20 days. You can apply at any time during that window.

To apply to the Angel’s Landing Quarterly Permit Lottery, login in to recreation.gov, and search for Zion National Park. Select the open lottery that covers your hopeful hiking dates. There is a $6 fee for applying, and your application fee covers up to 6 people in your hiking party.

You will get to pick seven ranked days and times or windows of days and times you want to hike.

An email will be sent to you 5 days after the lottery closes letting you know whether or not you received a permit. Winners will be charged $3 per hiker, refundable up to 2 days before your permit date.

The treacherous chains to Angel’s Landing now require a permit

Angel’s Landing Day-Before Lottery

Didn’t win the Quarterly Lottery? Or maybe you’re trying to plan a last minute trip to Zion? There’s still a chance to climb Angel’s Landing using the Day-Before Lottery.

Day-before lottery applicants should apply on recration.gov between 12:01AM and and 3PM the day before they intend to hike.

Applicants will be notified by email by 4PM, letting them know whether or not they received a permit.

The Narrows, Subway and other Canyoneering Permits

A canyoneering permit is required for explorations of all Zion canyons requiring the use of descending gear or ropes.

A Narrows canyoneering permit or wilderness permit is required for hiking the Narrows “top-down.” A permit is also required for all trips to the Subway (left fork of North Creek) and Mystery Canyon.

Depending on what canyon you are hoping to explore, canyoneering permits are made available 2 months, 1 month, or 7 days in advance. If you’re interested in exploring Zion’s incredible slot canyons and backcountry, learn more about Zion National Park Permits & Reservations: Everything You Need to Know

Tips for Getting National Park Reservations

In order to secure reservations in popular national parks like Arches and Glacier, it is important to plan ahead and be prepared. Here are some tips for getting national park reservations:

  • Plan your trip well in advance: As you’ve seen, many national parks release their timed-entry reservations months in advance. Make sure to mark the reservation release dates on your calendar and be ready to book as soon as they become available.
  • Be flexible with your dates: Weekdays tend to have more availability than weekends, so consider visiting during the week if possible.
  • Arrive early or late: Most National Park reservation windows are in effect during peak visitor hours inside the Park. Set an alarm, brew an extra cup of coffee and head to the park before sunrise! Not only will you have the Park to yourself, you’ll avoid needed a timed entry reservation, and watch the sun come up in some of the most beautiful places on earth.
  • Stay inside the Park: A reservation isn’t required in most cases if you have a confirmed campground or lodging reservation. Plus you’ll have the best access to trailheads and other park attractions.
  • Check for cancellations: Keep an eye on the national park’s website or social media pages for any last-minute cancellations. These spots may become available and can be snagged by quick-thinking travelers.
Death Valley National Park

Permits & Reservations At Other National Parks

Not visiting one of the 14 National Parks that require reservations above? You still might need tickets for ferries, tours, hiking permits, or overnight wilderness and backpacking permits.

Here’s a quick look at the other 49 National Parks and the reservations, tickets, and permits you might need to book on your next adventure.

Badlands (South Dakota)

Does Badlands National Park require reservations? No, Badlands National Park does not require timed entry reservations. Wilderness and backcountry permits are also not required in Badlands.

Big Bend (Texas)

Does Big Bend National Park require reservations? No, Big Bend National Park does not require timed entry reservations. A wilderness permit is required for backpacking and primitive road camping in Big Bend.

Biscayne (Florida)

Does Biscayne National Park require reservations? Biscayne National Park does not require reservations.

Did you know, Biscayne National Park is 95% water? To truly experience this park, book a snorkeling, paddling, or boating tour through the Park’s authorized concessionaire, Biscayne National Park Institute.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison (Colorado)

Does Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park require reservations? There are no reservations required to enter Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

All routes to the bottom of the canyon require a Wilderness Permit, even if you plan on hiking in and out on the same day. A limited number of permits are available for each route per day. Inner Canyon hikes are all strenuous, class 3 scrambles over unmarked terrain.

Wilderness Use Permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis from the South Rim Visitor Center and North Rim Ranger Station.

Hikers and anglers looking to explore the Red Rock Canyon area of the park must obtain a permit through the Red Rock Canyon reservation system. The park strictly controls the number of visitors to this area to protect an active grazing allotment that runs through the first mile of the trek.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon (Utah)

Does Bryce Canyon National Park require reservations? No, Bryce Canyon National Park does not require timed entry reservations. Backcountry camping in Bryce Canyon is permitted only in designated areas and requires a permit.

Canyonlands (Utah)

Does Canyonlands National Park require reservations? Canyonlands National Park does not require reservations to enter the Park. Day use reservations are required for four-wheel-drive, motorcycle and bicycling routes.

Backcountry Permits are required for all overnight backcountry trips.

Capitol Reef (UT)

Does Capitol Reef National Park require reservations? Capitol Reef National Park does not require reservations to enter.

A backcountry permit is required for all overnight backpacking trips. Permits are free and can be obtained in-person at the Visitor Center.

Canyoneering and rock climbing requires a free permit. Permits can be obtained in-person at the Visitor Center or via email.

Channel Islands (CA)

Does Channel Islands National Park require reservations? Channel Islands National Park does not require reservations to enter.

The 5 Channel Islands can only be accessed by park concessionaire or private boats. During peak season (June-September), reservations through the park’s boat concessionaire, Island Packers, book several weeks to months in advance.

Congraree (SC)

Does Congaree National Park require reservations? Congaree National Park does not require reservations to enter.

Capitol Reef National Park

Crater Lake (OR)

Does Crater Lake National Park require reservations? Crater Lake National Park does not require reservations to enter.

Advance reservations can be made for boat tours and trolley tours through Crater Lake National Park. Boat tours and lodging are operated by Crater Lake Hospitality.

Backcountry permits are required year round for all overnight backcountry camping. Permits must be obtained in person from the Park Headquarters

Cuyahoga Valley (OH)

Does Cuyahoga Valley National Park require reservations? Cuyahoga Valley National Park does not require reservations to enter. Backpacking and camping are not permitted in Cuyahoga Valley.

Death Valley (CA)

Does Death Valley National Park require reservations? Death Valley National Park does not require reservations to enter. Wilderness/Backcountry use permits are mandatory in some areas of Death Valley, and recommended for safety in others.

Denali (Alaska)

Does Denali National Park require reservations? There are no reservations required to enter Denali National Park. A reservation is required to use the Denali Transit buses for campers, hikers, backpackers, and to tour the Park’s stunning interior on a bus tour.

To protect the fragile ecosystem, Denali National Park limits access to most park roads for private vehicles.

In 2021 the Pretty Rocks Landslide destroyed Denali Park Road at Mile 45. Denali Park Road remains impassible past Mile 43 for the foreseeable future. All tour and transit busses on Denali Park Road will end at Mile 43 for the entire 2024 season.

Learn more about Bus Tours and Transit Buses here.

The following tours busses will run in Denali in the 2024 season:

  • Tundra Wilderness Tour (ends at Mile 43): May 20 – September 12
  • Denali Natural History Tour (ends at Mile 17): May 12 – September 19

Reserve your Denali Bus Tour tickets, here.

The following transit buses (hop-on-hop-off hiker buses) will run in Denali in 2024:

  • East Fork Transit Bus (ends at Mile 43): May 20 – September 12
  • Camper Bus: June 1 – September 12
  • Discovery Hike Bus (Discovery hike registration must be made 24 – 48 hrs in advance in-person): June 1 – September 2

Reserve your transit bus ticket, here.

Each year, Denali allows a select number of private vehicles to access the entire Park Road (as far as weather allows). Visitors wishing to drive Park Road in a private vehicle must obtain a permit, which is issued by lottery each summer.

Death Valley National Park

Dry Tortugas (Florida)

Does Dry Tortugas National Park require reservations? Yes and no. Dry Tortugas National Park does not technically require timed entry reservations.

However, this is a remote island park, and is accessible only by boat or seaplane.

Most visitors arrive using the Park’s authorized ferry concessionaire, Yankee Freedom. Yankee Freedom reservations book weeks to months in advance, and advanced reservations are strongly encouraged.

Everglades (Florida)

Does Everglades National Park require reservations? Everglades National Park does not require reservations to enter. Wilderness permits are required for all overnight backcountry camping.

Gates of the Arctic (Alaska)

Does Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve require reservations? Reservations and permits are not required to enter Gates of the Arctic National Park. However, all visitors are asked to attend a backcountry orientation at a visitor center or ranger station before entering the park.

Gates of the Arctic is designated as an entirely trail-less wilderness area. Visitors who are not experienced in route finding, topographic map reading, and backcountry wilderness skills should book a guided tour through one of the Parks many authorized concessionaires.

Learn more about guides at outfitters in Gates of the Arctic National Park here.

Gateway Arch (Missouri)

Does Gateway Arch National Park require reservations? Gateway Arch National Park does not require a reservation to enter.

A ticket is required to ride the tram to the top of the arch. Reservations are strongly encouraged due to limited capacity. Book reservations for the Gateway Arch tram here.

Glacier Bay (Alaska)

Does Glacier Bay National Park require reservations? A reservation is not required to enter Glacier Bay National Park. Backcountry campers must attend a backcountry orientation at the Visitor Information Station before obtaining a permit. Learn more about camping in Glacier Bay, here.

Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Does Grand Canyon National Park require reservations? Grand Canyon National Park does not require reservations to enter.

All overnight backcountry camping trips require a backcountry permit. Starting in 2024: all backcountry permits and early access lottery will be issued by recreation.gov.

Private river trips (trips not with a commercial rafting outfitter) require a permit. Permits are issued up to 1 year in advance on a first-come, first-served, basis. Learn more about river trips in the Grand Canyon here.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Teton (Wyoming)

Does Grand Teton National Park require reservations? Grand Teton National Park does not require reservations to enter. Reservations are required for backcountry camping in Grand Teton between May 1 and October 31.

Great Basin (Nevada)

Does Great Basin National Park require reservations? Great Basin National Park does not require reservations to enter.

Lehman Caves can only be entered on a guided tour. Reservations for cave tours are recommended and are available 30 days in advance. Book cave tours and learn about Lehman Caves here.

Great Sand Dunes (Colorado)

Does Great Sand Dunes National Park require reservations? A reservation is not required to enter Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Did you know you can sleep on the dunes in Great Sand Dunes? Learn more about backcountry camping in Great Sand Dunes, here.

Great Smoky Mountains (North Carolina & Tennessee)

Does Great Smoky Mountains National Park require reservations? Great Smoky Mountains National Park does not require reservations to enter.

Beginning March 1, 2023 Great Smoky Mountains National Park will require all visitors to purchase and display a “Parking Tag” while parking inside the National Park.

All visitors who park for more than 15 minutes in Great Smoky Mountains, including at trailheads, scenic points, Visitor Centers, ect. must purchase and display a paid Parking Tag. One Parking Tag is required per vehicle.

Parking Tag sales are not limited or capped, meaning you do not need advanced reservations to enter the Park. Parking tags do NOT guarantee a parking spot, so be sure to arrive early to trailheads and popular spots like Cades Cove!

Guadalupe Mountains (Texas)

Does Guadalupe Mountains National Park require reservations? Guadalupe Mountains National Park does not require reservations to enter.

Hawai’i Volcanoes (Hawai’i)

Does Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park require reservations? Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park does not require reservations to enter.

Hot Springs (Arkansas)

Does Hot Springs National Park require reservations? Hot Springs National park does not require reservations to enter.

Visitors who want to experience a traditional Bathhouse experience at one of Hot Springs’ two operating bathhouses must make reservations in advance. Information about Hot Springs’ bathhouses can be found here.

Backcountry camping is not permitted in Hot Springs National Park.

Indiana Dunes (Illinois)

Does Indiana Dunes National Park require reservations? Indiana Dunes does not require a reservation to enter. Camping is not permitted in Indiana Dunes National Park.

Isle Royale (Michigan)

Does Isle Royale National Park require reservations? Isle Royale does not require a reservation to enter the park.

Isle Royale is a remote island archipelago in Lake Superior, and can only be accessed by boat or seaplane. Operators recommend booking reservations at least 1-2 months in advance. Learn more about how to get to Isle Royale National Park here.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree (California)

Does Joshua Tree National Park require reservations? Joshua Tree does not require reservations to enter the park.

A permit is required for all overnight backcountry camping. Permits are reserved online using recration.gov.

Katmai (Alaska)

Does Katmai National Park require reservations? Katmai National Park does not require reservations to enter the park.

Brooks Falls, the most popular area of the park, is accessible only by boat and seaplane. Reservations for the campground at Brooks Camp are extremely competitive.

Reservations at Brooks Lodge are issued by lottery, usually in December, for the summer-after-next (ie, the December 2022 lottery issued reservations for Summer 2024). Visit the Brooks Lodge for information regarding cancellations and lottery applications, here.

Kenai Fjords (Alaska)

Does Kenai Fjords National Park require reservations? Kenai Fjords does not require reservations to enter the park.

Kings Canyon (California)

Does Kings Canyon National Park require reservations? Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks do not require reservations to enter. A backcountry permit is required for all overnight wilderness camping.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are jointly managed. See Sequoia National Park reservation information for additional details on Sequoia trips, including Mt. Whitney.

*Tip: Some area of Kings Canyon National Park are closed following the devastating 2021 KNP Complex fire, and the historic snow and flooding from winter 2022-2023. Check the Park’s website for details on how natural disasters are affecting Park operations.

Kobuk Valley (AK)

Does Kobuk Valley National Park require reservations? Kobuk Valley National Park does not require reservations to enter the park.

This Park is a remote National Park in the Alaskan wilderness, above the arctic circle. There are no roads that access the Park, and most visitors arrive to the park by air taxi. Learn more about transportation to Kobuk Valley here.

Lake Clark (AK)

Does Lake Clark National Park require reservations? Lake Clark National Park does not require reservations to enter the park.

There are no roads that access Lake Clark National Park, and most visitors arrive to the park by air taxi. Learn more about visiting Lake Clark National Park here.

Lassen Volcanic (CA)

Does Lassen Volcanic National Park require reservations? Lassen Volcanic National park does not require reservations to visit.

Backpackers and backcountry campers must obtain a wilderness permit on recration.gov. There is no quota for wilderness permits issued in Lassen.

Large areas of the park were impacted by the 2021 Dixie Fire, and some trail closures will continue into 2024. Learn more about Dixie Fire impacts, here.

A hiker poses among the ancient cliff dwelling of Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park
If you want to explore cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, you’ll need a tour ticket!

Mesa Verde (CO)

Does Mesa Verde National Park require reservations? Mesa Verde does not require reservations to enter the park.

You can view many of the cliff dwellings from a distance at Mesa Verde, as well as explore some of the Mesa Top structures on the scenic drive, but in my experience visiting Mesa Verde, you really need to take one of the guided tours at Mesa Verde to experience the incredible history of this National Park.

Most cliff dwellings inside Mesa Verde can only be entered on a ticketed ranger-led tour. Tickets area available 14 days in advance of your tour, on a daily rolling basis. Tickets are available starting at 8AM MDT on recreation.gov and it is strongly advised to book tickets as soon as they become available.

National Park of American Samoa

Does National Park of American Samoa require reservations? National Park of American Samoa does not require reservations.

American Samoa is located in the South Pacific, approximately between Hawai’i and New Zealand. It is the most remote National Parks and planning a trip requires serious logistics. Learn more about visiting National Park of American Samoa here.

In recent years, several major airlines have temporarily suspended operations to American Samoa, and travel restrictions may require you to quarantine for 14 days in Hawaii and obtain a health clearance 3 days before arriving at the Park. Learn more about current COVID restrictions for visiting National Park of American Samoa here.

New River Gorge (West Virginia)

Does New River Gorge National Park require reservations? New River Gorge National Park and Preserve does not require reservations to enter.

Primitive campsites are available inside the park on a first-come first-serve basis. Dispersed camping is permitted, subject to some restrictions.

Rugged North Cascades National Park

North Cascades (Washington)

Does North Cascades National Park require reservations? North Cascades National Park does not require reservations to enter the Park. A permit is required for all overnight backcountry trips in North Cascades.

Olympic (Washington)

Does Olympic National Park require reservations? Olympic National Park does not require reservations to enter the Park. All overnight backcountry trips in Olympic require a wilderness permit.

Petrified Forest (Arizona)

Does Petrified Forest National Park require reservations? Petrified Forest National Park does not require reservations.

Overnight camping is prohibited in Petrified Forest, except for backpacking in the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area.

Pinnacles (California)

Does Pinnacles National Park require reservations? Pinnacles National Park does not require reservations. Backpacking is not permitted in Pinnacles National Park.

Saguaro (Arizona)

Does Saguaro National Park require reservations? Reservations are not required to enter Saguaro National Park.

Book backcountry camping permits, here. Thru-hikers are the Arizona Trail can obtain a thru-hiking overnight permit, here.

Theodore Roosevelt (North Dakota)

Does Theodore Roosevelt National Park require reservations? Theodore Roosevelt National Park does not require reservations to enter.

Anyone planning to camp overnight in the backcountry must obtain a free backcountry permit. Permits are obtained in person at the South Unit Visitor Center and North Unit Visitor Center.

Petrified Forest National Park / Which National Parks Require Reservations in 2024?

Virgin Islands

Does Virgin Islands National Park require reservations? Reservations are not required to enter Virgin Islands National Park.

Virgin Islands is an island Park within the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. Learn how to visit USVI National Park here.

Voyageurs (Minnesota)

Does Voyageurs National Park require reservations? Voyageurs National Park does not require reservations to enter.

Voyageurs National Park Visitors Center is accessible by car. However, the majority of the park can only be accessed by boat. Commercial boating outfitters, lodging, and houseboat rentals should all be arranged as far in advance as possible.

Learn more about visiting Voyageurs National Park here.

White Sands (New Mexico)

Does White Sands National Park require reservations? White Sands National Park does not require a reservation to enter.

As of 2022, all backcountry camping is prohibited in White Sands to rehabilitate the dunes.

Road access to the sand dunes occasionally close due to missile testing at nearby White Sands Missile Range. During road closures, all dune activity including hiking, horseback riding and sledding is prohibited.

US Highway 70 between White Sands National Park and Las Cruces, NM may also close during missile testing.

Check here for upcoming Park closures.

Wrangell-St. Elias (AK)

Does Wrangell-St. Elias National Park require reservations? Wrangell-St. Elias National Park does not require reservations to enter.

Permits are not required to hike or camp in the backcountry. Visitors who are not experienced in route finding, topographic map reading, and backcountry wilderness skills should book a guided tour through one of the Parks many authorized concessionaires. Learn more about getting to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park here.

Yellowstone (Wyoming / Montana)

Does Yellowstone National Park required timed entry reservations? Yellowstone National Park does not require reservations to enter.

Backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips into the Yellowstone backcountry. Backcountry campers must camp in designated sites and adhere to all food-storage regulations.

Frequently Asked Questions About National Park Reservations

Why Do National Parks Require Reservations?

It’s no secret that our National Parks are exploding with popularity. While Park attendance has been steadily increasing in recent years, visitor numbers have skyrocketed since 2020.

In response, an increasing number of National Parks are requiring advanced reservations to enter the most popular sections of the Parks, or even to enter the Park, period.

What about climbing, canyoneering, and other specialized activities?

This list does not include permits and regulations for most technical activities like climbing, canyoneering, horseback riding and boating. Most National Parks require a specialized permit for sport climbing, canyoneering

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