Soon, You Won’t Need a Reservation to Get Into These Parks Anymore

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Since the start of the Covid pandemic and associated boom in visitors, several national parks have implemented timed entry reservations to reduce crowds and ensure visitors have access to parking during their stay. But after Labor Day, many of these national parks see entries drop, allowing them to lift those reservations. While parks like Haleakala National Park require year-round reservations due to constant traffic, others reduce their winter reservation requirements. Would you like to pay a spontaneous visit to one of America’s crown jewels? These 7 travel destinations should be on your list.

Rocky Mountain National Park

In 2021, Rocky Mountain National Park introduced its first timed entry system to combat park congestion. The entrances were based on 75 to 85 percent of the park’s parking capacity. Today, the park has two different timed entry systems: the main corridor requires reservations from 5am to 6pm, while the rest of the park requires reservations from 9am to 3pm. These requirements are valid from May 27th to October 10th and the reservation costs $2.

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Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is notorious for its short visiting season on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is often closed until late summer due to snow. The shortened season typically contributes to high traffic levels, which can make the parking experience chaotic. The park’s current reservation system runs from May 27th to September 11th, so it’s already closed for the year. Like Rocky Mountain National Park, Glacier has two different reservation systems: one for the Going-to-the-Sun Road and one for the Polebridge Ranger Station. Each reservation costs $2.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park introduced its timed entry season in 2022 to help stem the crowds. Visitors to the park need a reservation for each day of their visit if they wish to enter between the hours of 6am and 5pm. The reservation season runs from April 3rd to October 3rd. Reservations are $2.

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Yosemite National Park

During the park’s peak season, Yosemite National Park now requires a timed reservation from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. These $2 reservations are valid May 20th through September 30th.

Iconic park destinations with expiring restrictions

Some national parks do not require timed reservations for general admission, but they do have seasonal restrictions on the most popular attractions within the park. Off-peak times offer a great opportunity to experience the nation’s most desirable national park destinations without a headache.

Shenandoah National Park

Old Rag is a 3,284-foot mountain in Shenandoah National Park known for its rock climbs and breathtaking views. It’s a popular fall hike because the changing foliage creates an unforgettable spectacle. But if you want to hike Old Rag, you need a $1 all-day pass from March 1st to November 30th.

Acadia National Park

Visitors can see most of Acadia National Park without a reservation. But to experience the Cadillac Summit Road, you must reserve from May 25th to October 22nd and it will cost you $6. Cadillac Summit Road takes visitors to Acadia’s highest peak where they can enjoy the sunrise overlooking the water.

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Redwood National Park

The Gold Bluffs Beach day use area in Redwood National and State Parks is one of the most popular destinations in the unit. In recent years, officials have expressed concern about the safety issues that overcrowding could pose. Because of this, the park has implemented a seasonal permit system that runs from May 1st to September 30th. Permits are free.

Visiting in the off-season can be a great way to experience national parks with fewer crowds and fewer reservations. Keep in mind that many of these reservation programs are pilot programs, meaning they are vulnerable to future changes. In addition to visiting these national parks outside of their reservation windows, national parks are offering free entry on September 24 in celebration of National Public Lands Day.

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