National Parks that Require Reservations in 2024

Each year visitation numbers grow across our national parks and while it is great to see more people experiencing and appreciating more of these beautiful places, there is no denying the elephant in the room. More people may be flooding into national parks but trailhead parking lots haven’t grown with them. The introduction of a reservation system in various parks is a saving grace for visitors who don’t want to spend hours circling a parking lot (or standing at a viewpoint like a bunch of sardines).

But while the reservation system has brought back the beauty of peaceful wilderness, it doesn’t come without a bit of planning. Check out this list of national parks that require reservations in 2024 so that your trip goes off without a hitch!

Arches National Park

North Window at Arches National Park in Utah
Image Credit: Shutterstock / anthony heflin

With only 18 miles of road and countless (2,000 to be exact) arches waiting to be discovered, it is no wonder why Arches National Park has become one of the busiest parks in the country! But with such a small amount of road and limited pull-offs, Arches was closing its gates every morning due to max capacity. That is until they established a timed-entry system in 2022! Now, visitors can book their timed-entry reservation up to three months in advance to guarantee a smooth entry. Plus, a second wave of timed-entry reservations are available the day before your trip for those last minute planners!

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / MarksPursuit

If there is one thing that everyone wants to experience on their trip to Glacier National Park, it’s the Going-to-the-Sun road. This windy, mountainside route is not for the faint of heart but those willing to make the journey will be rewarded with breathtaking mountain scenery, roadside waterfalls, prime wildlife viewing, and more! In 2024, visitors heading to Going-to-the-Sun from the west (Apgar Entrance) will need a reservation.

Reservations are also needed for the rugged North Fork district and the hiker’s paradise that is Many Glacier. Keep in mind that reservation into one district does NOT grant you access into another.

Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park in Hawaii
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Patrick Trolan

While waking up at 3 AM doesn’t exactly scream relaxing beach vacation, the sunrise at the summit of Haleakala National Park still draws in thousands of visitors each year. A windy road leads you up to a one-of-a-kind, panoramic view of the island that becomes otherworldly at sunrise. A spiritual journey for many, reservations are required to ensure that everyone has the serene sunrise experience they deserve!

Just don’t forget to layer up because it’s much colder at the summit than you’d expect!

Mount Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jay Yuan

Sporting an active volcano that doubles as a breathtaking rugged mountain centerpiece, Mount Rainier National Park is an undeniably spectacular place for photographers, hikers, and geologists alike. But with increased foot traffic, the park has faced some serious overcrowding and with it, dramatic resource damage. The new timed-entry system not only ensures a more serene visit but it gives the resource that we are all there to enjoy the space to breathe! Reservations are required for both the Sunrise Corridor and Paradise Corridor.

Shenandoah National Park

Old rag mountain in Shenandoah National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / jessconlow

Unlike other parks on this list, Shenandoah National Park’s extensive (and extremely scenic) road system makes it easy to withstand increased visitation but there is one trail that is just getting a bit too much love. Old Rag Mountain offers hikers a thrilling journey filled with rock scrambles and panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains over the course of 9 to 11 miles roundtrip. With heavy foot traffic and a difficult trail system, Old Rag Mountain now requires a hiking permit to ensure the safety and enjoyment of its hikers. You can get this permit up to 30 days in advance.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sean Xu

With two different timed-entry reservations to choose from, it’s important that you do your research if you want to do that bucket list hike to Sky Pond that you keep seeing all over Instagram! The two reservations are for Trail Ridge Road and the Bear Lake Corridor. The Bear Lake Corridor reservation will grant you access to the entire park but the Trail Ridge Road reservation will NOT grant you access to the Bear Lake Corridor.

While a drive up the Trail Ridge Road grants you the opportunity to stand at 12,183 feet and admire a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains, a trip to the park wouldn’t be complete with setting your eyes on the picturesque Bear Lake.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrew Opila

With peaks in visitation at various times of year thanks to the iconic winter glow of Horsetail Fall and various holiday vacations, Yosemite’s entrance reservations are much more varied than other parks. Check their website to see if you will need a reservation during your visit and just know that all the hassle will be worth it when you drive through the tunnel to see a Yosemite Valley that is even more dreamy than the pictures you’ve been drooling over for years.

Zion National Park

Angel's Landing trail in Zion National Park.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Simon Dannhauer

While Zion National Park went with the shuttle route instead of a timed-entry system, you will still need to do a bit of planning if you want to conquer a bucket-list hike like Angels Landing. This iconic hike takes you up (and down) a narrow path with a 1,000 foot drop-off on each side supported only by a set of chains. It’s amazing that this trail didn’t always require a permit! With dangerous conditions, limited space, and increased popularity, a hiking permit is the only way to ensure the safety of hikers. But don’t worry! If you didn’t score a permit in the advanced lottery, you can always try again the day before!

A few other trails like the Subway and the Narrows from Chamberlain’s Ranch also require hiking permits.

Acadia National Park

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Mihai_Andritoiu

While the entire park could probably use a reservation system, all of the crowds are usually going to the same place- Cadillac Mountain. This iconic mountain has multiple things going for it. From being the tallest peak on the eastern coast to offering the first view of the sunrise in the entire country, it’s no wonder why the National Park Service had to establish a vehicle reservation system for the summit road. Book your reservation three months or two days in advance for one of the best experiences that Acadia National Park has to offer!

Don’t Have a Reservation?

Cars waiting to enter Yosemite National Park.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sundry Photography

While the reservation systems are put in place for good reason, it can sometimes be difficult to get a reservation for popular parks during peak season. If you don’t get the reservation you were hoping for, don’t just cancel the national park vacation of your dreams! The best work around for the reservation system is getting to the park SUPER early (or coming late). Drive through the fee booth station at least 30 minutes before reservations start or drive in the second that they end. Just because you don’t have a reservation doesn’t mean you can’t get into the park. Being flexible will be your best friend!

Important Notice: This does not apply for hiking permits.

Nicole Westcott

Author: Nicole Westcott


Nicole Westcott is a freelance travel writer who loves traveling and hiking in some of America's most beautiful places. Whether it be backpacking through the iconic Grand Teton range or going for a relaxing stroll amongst a fairytale rainforest, I am in my happy place. I enjoy all types of travel and I am always planning my next adventure!

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