Last spring, many of the 63 US National Parks closed due to the pandemic but slowly opened (at limited capacity) as social distancing in the outdoors was deemed safe and a great way to get out of the house and escape lockdown measures even if reservations were required.  

This year, all national parks are open and these reservation requirements will continue. That said, the parks were a big draw last year and this year is set to be even more popular as many international destinations are still not fully open and Americans are getting accustomed to the new guidelines allowing for more open state destinations. 

Here you can find the tickets and reservations required for each park at recreation.gov and a summary (with details below) of the list of parks starting from the Atlantic all the way to the Pacific:

Acadia National Park—Maine

Rocky Mountain National Park—Colorado

Glacier National Park—Montana

Zion National Park—Utah

Yosemite National Park—California

Haleakalā National Park—Hawaii


Acadia National Park—Maine

Home to forests, mountains, lakes, rocky headlands, and wetlands along the Atlantic coast, Maine’s Acadia National Park has 27 miles of scenic roads and 158 miles of hiking trails you will find absolutely stunning. 

You won’t need a reservation to explore the island park but you will have to make a reservation to drive up the park’s famous Cadillac Mountain which is famous for offering the first sight of sunrise in the continental US. You can make a sunrise (2hr) or daytime (30min) window reservation for $6 each between May 26 and Oct 19 but keep in mind that about thirty percent of reservations are made available 90 days ahead of the date and the rest are released at 10am ET two days prior to the ticket date. However, hiking and biking up the mountain does not require a reservation but will require some stamina.


Rocky Mountain National Park—Colorado

A hiker’s paradise, Rocky Mountain National Park has more than 300 miles of trails where you can see nature at its best from glacier basins and wildflowers to moose and elk.  

About 1.5hr drive north from Denver, the park is instituting a two-prong reservation system to prevent overcrowding as was experienced last summer. First—If you’d like to visit the Bear Lake Corridor, one of the most popular spots in the park, you’ll have to make a reservation for a two-hour window between 5 a.m. MT and 6 p.m. MT. Second—If you’re more interested in other areas and plan to skip Bear Lake and its surrounds, you can get a separate reservation for two-hour timed slots between 9 a.m. MT and 3 p.m. MT. Either way, you can remain in the park past your window but must enter during your designated time slot. And this year, there will be room for between 75-80% of the park’s total parking capacity, compared to 60% in 2020.


Glacier National Park—Montana

As the name suggests, Glacier National Park is a haven for many pristine glacial lakes as well as waterfalls, vast wilderness, stunning mountain views, and more.

Beginning Memorial Day weekend, an advance reservation will be required to drive the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road (about a 2hr drive from beginning to end) but the rest of the park will not. Other park entrances will require $2 entry tickets as well as $35 vehicle entry tickets. Approximately 75% of the reservation tickets became available on Apr 28, and the remaining 25% will be released 48hrs in advance—which is a way to try for some last-minute tickets.


Zion National Park—Utah

Even though located in the American Southwest, Zion National Park seems like you are in a far-off land. It is a nature preserve distinguished by Zion Canyon’s steep red cliffs, forest trails along the Virgin River, the Emerald Pools with waterfalls and hanging gardens, and deep chasms through the Zion Narrows wading hike. 

Like Acadia and Glacier, certain parts of the park require reservations while others do not. For instance, the upper Zion Canyon and the Scenic Drive are both closed to cars and you will need a reservation on the park’s socially distanced shuttle service to access sights like the Emerald Pools, West Rim Trail, and Angels Landing. Shuttle tickets are just $1 and are released twice a month, on the 16th and the last day of the month and you can find the full calendar release dates on Zion’s site.


Yosemite National Park—California

Yosemite National Park is home to one of the most intimidating and famous rock climbing mountains in the world (El Capitan), the tallest waterfall in North America (Yosemite Falls), granite monoliths like Sentinel Dome, some of the largest trees on Earth (sequoias), and more.  

Driving into Yosemite this summer will require an advance reservation and there are still open spots but we would not recommend waiting. Yosemite also sets aside a limited number of reservations that can be booked exactly one week before the arrival date. The full calendar of when reservations go live can be found on Yosemite’s site. Like at Rocky Mountain, if you have an annual pass, you will still need a reservation but only have to pay the $2 processing fee. If you’ve already booked a campsite or hotel inside Yosemite’s borders, or have a backpacking wilderness permit, you will not need an entry reservation in advance to access your stay. However, you will still have to pay the $35 entrance fee but can do that when you arrive. 


Haleakalā National Park—Hawaii

Maui’s Haleakalā National Park is home to this Hawaiin Island’s highest peak, Pu’u ‘Ula’ula, which rises just over 10,000 feet above sea level. The height combined with the Mars-like desert landscape of a dormant volcano crater is best known for its sunrises.  

Unlike most of the other park reservation requirements (due to the pandemic), this reservation system was first established in 2017. However, given current circumstances, it makes sense to continue. Maui requires reservations between 3am and 7am, when visitors summit the dormant Haleakalā Volcano to see the sun rise from its summit. Tickets only cost $1 and guarantee a parking spot at one of the four viewing points during the entire sunrise period but there is a $30 park entrance fee upon arrival. Booking can be up to 60 days in advance.


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