7 US national parks that require a reservation in 2022 – Atlas & Boots

America’s outdoor spaces are becoming increasingly congested, so more US National Parks will require a reservation in 2022

In 1872, the US established Yellowstone National Park, the country’s first and the world’s second national park (after Bogd Khan Uul in Mongolia). The park became an international model for the preservation of biodiversity and cultural history; a model that has been replicated around the globe.

In 2021, Yellowstone received a staggering 4,860,537 recreation visits, up 28% from 2020 (3,806,306 visits), making it the busiest year on record. May, June, July, August, and September were the busiest months on record with July also the most-visited month on record in Yellowstone’s history and the first time visitation exceeded one million visits in a single month.

Although Yellowstone has not begun a formal process yet, park managers have not ruled out introducing management strategies such as timed-entry systems or reservations in the future to counteract the unsustainable rise in visitor numbers.

Last year saw pandemic-weary Americans head for the nation’s outdoor spaces in record numbers. The increase in visitors led to reports of overcrowding, parks closing their gates and local towns overrun with tourists.

In 2022, visitor numbers are forecast to increase even further as international visitors are expected to return en masse.

As such, a number of parks have introduced systems including day-use reservations and timed-entry tickets designed to cut crowds and preserve the fragile landscapes, wildlife and ecosystems the parks were created to protect.

US National Parks that require a reservation

Four more parks have implemented ticketing procedures while several others renewed systems already in place. Below, we take a look at the US National Parks that require a reservation in 2022 along with details of when, where and how to organise the permits.

1. Acadia National Park

Location: Maine

Timed-entry for cars on the Cadillac Summit Road

When: 25th May to 22nd October 2022

More info:

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain
Richard Nieves/Shutterstock Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

After the launch of a successful pilot scheme in 2021, Acadia National Park has renewed its vehicle reservations for the popular Cadillac Summit Road. The highest point on the US eastern seaboard, Cadillac Mountain is a popular destination for visitors to Acadia, particularly for sunrise hikers.

30% of passes are available 90 days in advance of the arrival date with the rest from two days ahead of the time. Visitors have two types of tickets to choose from: sunrise or daytime.

2. Arches National Park

Location: Utah

Timed entry for all visitors

When: 3rd April to 3rd October 2022

More info:

Arches National Park  is one of the US National Parks that require a reservation
Dreamstime Arches National Park is home to over 2,000 sandstone arches

Last year, Arches National Park was regularly forced to close its gates by 8am as car parks were full and trails were at their capacity. Some days the gates stayed closed for up to five hours.

It is hardly surprising then to see the popular destination introduce a site-wide timed entry system for all visitors. There is a $2 fee to reserve as well as the park-entrance fees (beginning at $15 per person). Some last-minute tickets will be available one day in advance.

3. Glacier National Park

Location: Montana

Ticketed entry for day-use visitors to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road and Polebridge Ranger Station

When: 27th May 27 to 11th September 2022

More info:
recreation.gov and nps.gov

The Going-to-the-Sun Road
Sean Xu/Shutterstock The Going-to-the-Sun Road

Glacier National Park piloted a ticketing system for its renowned Going-to-the-Sun Road last spring and unsurprisingly has renewed and expanded the system for 2022’s high season.

Tickets will cost $2 plus the entrance fee beginning at $15 per person. A limited number of reservations will be available from two days in advance

4. Haleakalā National Park

Location: Hawaii

Reservations for cars entering from 3am to 7am to catch the sunrise from Maui’s highest peak

When: Ongoing

More info:

Silhouette of crowd enjoying the sunset atop Mount Haleakala on Maui, Hawaii
Allen.G/Shutterstock Sunrise on Mount Haleakalā

To combat overtourism to the area, in 2017 Haleakalā National Park introduced a reservation system and fee for sunrise viewing at the 3,055m (10,023ft) summit of Mount Haleakalā.

The fee is $1 and reservations are available up to 60 days in advance with an allocation of last-minute tickets available two days in advance.

5. Rocky Mountain National Park

Location: Colorado

Timed-entry system with either full park access or excluding Bear Lake Road Corridor

When: 27th May to 10th October 2022

More info: recreation.gov

Rocky Mountain is one of the US National Parks that require a reservation
Sean Xu/Shutterstock Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

In a similar fashion to last year’s timed entry system, Rocky Mountain National Park will require all vehicles to carry a special pass to enter the park. These passes will allow visitors to enter the park in two-hour windows to help ease crowding and stagger traffic.

Most tickets will be available from 2nd May 2022 with a further 25-30% of tickets will be held for last-minute guests and released at 5pm the day before throughout the season.

6. Shenandoah National Park

Location: Virginia

Day-hiking tickets for Old Rag Mountain

When: 1st March to 30th November 2022

More info:

The rocky summit of Old Rag Mountain in Virginia
Jonathan A. Mauer/Shutterstock The rocky summit of Old Rag Mountain in Virginia

The rocky summit of Old Rag Mountain and its surrounding trails are repeatedly named as one of the best hikes in the US. It’s no wonder that the popular hiking destination has been forced to introduce a pilot project to help alleviate some of the stress.

All visitors to Old Rag Mountain, including hikers on the Saddle, Ridge, and Ridge Access trails, will need to acquire an Old Rag Mountain day-use ticket in advance, in addition to a Park entrance pass. Advance tickets will be available from recreation.gov from 1st February 2022.

7. Zion National Park

Location: Utah

Permits to visit Angels Landing via ‘online lotteries’

When: From 1st April 2022

More info:

Angel's Landing in Zion National Park will require a reservation
Calin Tatu/Shutterstock Angels Landing in Zion National Park, Utah

Angels Landing, one of America’s most popular hikes, has long attracted throngs of crowds desperate to get that ‘classic’ photograph. As such, Zion National Park will introduce a pilot ticketing scheme in 2022.

All Angels Landing hikers, throughout the year, will need to enter a permit lottery from one of three time windows (pre 9am, 9am-12pm or post-12pm). Permits cost $3 per person plus an additional non-refundable $6 application fee. There are seasonal as well as ‘day-before’ lotteries available.

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