Visitation to the U.S. National Parks, Forests, and Monuments was surging pre-pandemic, but a renewed interest in outdoor recreation thanks to COVID-19 left some of the most popular parks simply overrun.
As a result, many of the most popular parks, forests, and monuments implemented reservation systems to limit the number of visitors coming into the parks at any one time.
While the pandemic is waning across the United States, interest in the National Parks has not. So, in 2022, many of the most popular National Parks are re-implementing their ticketed reservations systems to help curb crowds again this year.
Read more: How to Book Your National Parks Pass
Last year, we put together a list of tips to avoid crowds in the most popular National Parks, including arriving early (or late) and getting off-the-beaten-path.
Still, the most popular parks are crowded for a reason: They’re spectacular. So, if you want to see those hot spots, you have to do your homework and be prepared – sometimes months in advance.
Here are all of the U.S. National Parks, Forests, Recreation Areas, and Monuments where you may need a reservation and a guide to getting one.
- Acadia National Park
- Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests
- Arches National Park
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
- El Yunque National Forest
- Gifford Pinchot National Forest
- Glacier National Park
- Haleakala National Park
- Muir Woods National Monument
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Shenandoah National Park
- Zion National Park
Acadia National Park
Along Maine’s Atlantic Coast, Acadia National Park is one of the most popular in the country, hosting more than 4 million visitors a year. To fight the surging crowds, the park implemented a vehicle reservation system that it will bring back for 2022.
Reservations are required for the Cadillac Summit Road between May 25 and Oct. 22. They cost $6 and are bookable at Recreation.gov.
Reservations can be made starting Feb. 25 on a rolling basis. 30% of reservations are made available 90 days before each date and the remaining 70 percent are released at 10 a.m. ET two days before each date.
Note: For Acadia and all of the rest of the National Parks on this list, you also need to pay an entrance fee or have a National Parks pass.
Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests
Colorado’s Mount Evans Recreation Area is home to one of the continent’s 14er mountains (more than 14,000 feet high) and makes it a popular spot for climbers and hikers.
In 2022, a $2 vehicle reservation to drive the road to Mount Evans, Mount Goliath, and Summit Lake Park will be required. You can make those reservations at Recreation.gov.
75% of the reservations will be available 30 days before the first of the month at 10 a.m. ET. (i.e. Reservations for July 1-31 will go on sale June 1). Then, the remaining 25% of tickets will be on sale 3 days before each date at 10 a.m. ET.
Nearby Brainard Lake Recreation Area requires parking reservations for its popular trailhead. Vehicles are $14 plus the $2 reservation and can be booked at 10 a.m. ET 14 days before each date. Those tickets can be booked at Recreation.gov.
Arches National Park
Southeastern Utah’s Arches National Park is another one of the most popular parks in the country with more than 1 million visitors each year since 2010. After a similar system was implemented last year, Arches is running back their timed entry ticketing system in 2022.
Through October 2022, visitors will need a $2 timed-entry ticket, a photo ID, and a park entrance fee or valid park pass to enter.
The tickets will be made available at Recreation.gov three months in advance at 10 a.m. ET. Tickets for April and May have already gone on sale. (There were plenty of spots still available for those months when we checked in mid-February.) Here is the schedule for the rest of the year:
- June tickets: On sale March 1
- July tickets: On sale April 1
- August tickets: On sale May 1
- September tickets: On sale June 1
- October 1-3 tickets: On sale July 1
The park says it will also release a few night-before tickets at 8 p.m. ET each day, too.
Arches was one of our favorite stops on our Utah National Parks road trip we took a few years ago.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Outside of Portland, Oregon, Multnomah Falls welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors each year to see the falls and visit the Multnomah Falls Lodge. The USDA uses a timed reservation and ticketing system to ease congestion at the Pacific Northwest hot spot.
Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov. They are bookable 14 days in advance of your visit at 10 a.m. ET. The USDA then opens up a limited number of reservations that can be booked 48 hours in advance of your arrival at 10 a.m. ET, too. The reservations are $1.
El Yunque National Forest
In Puerto Rico, the El Yunque National Forest has also implemented a ticketed entry system for 2022. The park is the sole year-round tropical rainforest in the U.S. Forest System.
The $2 tickets are bookable at Recreation.gov. Vehicle tickets are made available 30 days ahead of the entry date at 10 a.m. ET. More tickets will be made available 24 hours in advance starting at 8 a.m. each day for the following day.
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Washington state’s Ape Cave Interpretive Site, near Mt. St. Helens, also has a $2 reservation fee bookable through Recreation.gov.
Booking information for the popular cavern for 2022 has not yet been released.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park’s hugely popular and totally stunning Going-to-the-Sun Road requires entry tickets between May 27 and September 11, 2022.
The $2 tickets, bookable at Recreation.gov, go on sale 120 days ahead of the reservation start date at 10 a.m. ET.
After that, an additional round of reservations will be opened up one day in advance at 10 a.m. ET daily.
Like with all the National Parks on this list, you will also need a National Parks Pass or to purchase a single-day entry ticket to visit the park in addition to the reservation.
Glacier National Park was a key cog in our Wyoming and Montana National Parks road trip itinerary we put together last August.
And if you’re looking for a totally different kind of National Parks experience, consider glamping as we did at Under Canvas-Glacier while we were there.
Haleakala National Park
On the Hawaiian Island of Maui, the sunrise at Haleakala National Park has become so popular that the park implemented a ticketed entry system to control crowds.
The $1 tickets, available at Recreation.gov, are required to visit the park between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.
Tickets go on sale 60 days in advance of each date.
Muir Woods National Monument
California’s Muir Woods National Monument, just north of San Francisco, implemented a parking reservation system in 2018 and never looked back.
Every visitor to the park must pay for a $9 parking reservation on top of their $15 park entrance fee. (Children 15 and under are free).
The reservations can be made at the Muir Woods website.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Outside Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive has also implemented a timed entry reservation program to spread out its nearly 3 million visitors each year.
The $15 vehicle tickets are bookable at Recreation.gov and can be purchased up to 30 days in advance of your visit day starting at 10 a.m. ET.
A secondary booking window opens two days in advance at 10 a.m. as well.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Nestled high up in the Colorado Mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park offers two types of timed entry permit reservations in 2022 starting May 27.
The Bear Lake Road Corridor permit allows access from Trail Ridge Road to Bear Lake Trailhead from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The other permit covers the rest of the park, excluding Bear Lake Road, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Guests can make those $2 reservations at Recreation.gov. Reservations open up as follows at noon ET each day:
- May 27 – June 30: Reservations open May 2
- July: Reservations open June 1
- August: Reservations open July 1
- September: Reservations open August 1
- October: Reservations open September 1
30 percent of permits will be made available for purchase the day before entry at 5 p.m. Those tickets are expected to sell out quickly, the park service says. No permits will be sold at the park.
Of course, like all of the parks, visitors also need an entry ticket to go to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Shenandoah National Park
In Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, hiking at Old Rag Mountain has become so popular that reservations are now required there.
In total, the National Park Service will sell 800 tickets each day for people to access Old Rag. Half of those 800 tickets will go on sale 30 days before the reservation date at 10 a.m. ET and half of the tickets will go on sale 5 days before the reservation date at 10 a.m. ET.
Tickets are $1 and are available at Recreation.gov.
While they are not guaranteed, any leftover tickets will be sold the day of, but cell service or internet connection are required to purchase them, neither of which can be found at the park itself.
Zion National Park
OK, buckle up for this one…
Overcrowding and congestion at Angels Landing in Utah’s Zion National Park led to the park service implementing a new permit program for hikers in the area. And it’s by far the most cumbersome permit or reservation system in the parks system.
To make things more stressful, the reservation system for Angels Landing is a lottery, meaning you are not guaranteed to hike the trail no matter what.
The seasonal lottery breaks down as follows:
It costs $6 just to apply for the seasonal permit, which covers an application for up to six people and is non-refundable, even if you don’t get a spot.
After the lottery closes, you’ll learn if you received a spot or not, and then will be prompted to pay $3 more per person you registered.
If you did not win the seasonal lottery, or simply waited until the last minute, you can enter the day-before lottery.
The day-before lottery opens every day at 12:01 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. MT and also costs a non-refundable $6. At 4 p.m. MT that day, you will learn the results of the lottery. If you are chosen, you will have to pay the $3 per person you registered in order to get your permit.
While this may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, we did this Angels Landing hike and can confirm it was spectacular. It’s one of the reasons why Zion made our Utah National Parks road trip itinerary.
Massive interest in the U.S. National Parks and Recreation Areas has led many of them to re-implement reservation systems for 2022.
While making reservations ahead of time might add another hurdle to your travels, it will help decrease congestion at all of our favorite parks and make for a better experience.
So stay on your toes this spring if you’re planning a National Parks trip this summer and make sure you book your spot to see the finest lands this beautiful country has to offer.