The National Park System has 423 individual units including Battlefields, Military Parks, Historical Parks, Memorials, Monuments, Parkways, Preserves, Scenic Rivers, and National Parks. However, only 25 of the parks get the bulk of recreational visits.
Sadly, we’re over-loving our National Parks. Visits to the top national parks such as the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Arches, have exploded. In 2021, three parks had more than 10 million recreation visits: Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Eleven parks had more than five million visitors.
Problems due to overcrowding are on the rise. While we all know to Leave No Trace, the toll of increased traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, is not beneficial to the ecosystems of the parks. The following parks are going to timed-entry systems to protect the parks from excessive human impacts and facilitate a positive recreation experience.
If you plan on visiting a park this summer, you need to buy your tickets online now since tickets become available a couple of months in advance. Or your family could visit one of the other many options in the park system. The NPS motto is “Find Your Park” after all, and you can find many options that aren’t so crowded.
Arches National Park Timed Entry
For 2022, a timed-entry reservation system will be used to buy tickets to enter the park from April through October. The Timed Entry Ticket includes a $2.00 non-refundable reservation fee which is separate from the park entrance fee. Visitors will need three things for their visit, 1) timed-entry ticket, 2) photo ID, and 3) park entrance fee OR valid park pass. Each private vehicle entering the park will need a Timed Entry Ticket for each day the vehicle will be in the park between 6 am and 5 pm. The reservation holder must be in the vehicle with photo identification when you arrive at the park. Timed Entry Tickets will be available in block releases 3 months in advance at 8 am MT.
- On March 1st, 2022, tickets will release for all of June.
- On April 1st, 2022, tickets will release for all of July.
- On May 1st, 2022, tickets will release for all of August.
- On June 1st, 2022, tickets will release for all of September.
- On July 1st, 2022 tickets will release for October 1-3.
Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry
Beginning on May 27, 2022, RMNP will require timed-entry tickets for entry. There will be two types of reservations available. One permit will be for the Bear Lake Road Corridor (from the junction of Trail Ridge Road to the Bear Lake Trailhead), which will include the entire corridor and access to the rest of the park. This reservation period will be from 5 am to 6 pm. The second permit will be for the rest of Rocky Mountain National Park, excluding the Bear Lake Road corridor. This reservation period will be from 9 am to 3 pm. Both types will give visitors entry to the park within a two-hour window.
Reservations to enter the park will go on sale online at 10 a.m. MST, starting the following dates:
- Monday, May 2, reservations will be available to enter the park from May 27 through June 30.
- On June 1 T, reservations will be available for the month of July and any remaining days that have not been booked for June.
- On July 1, reservations will be available for the month of August and any remaining days that have not been booked for July.
- On August 1, reservations will be available for the month of September and any remaining days in August that have not been booked.
- On September 1, reservations will be available for October and any remaining days in September that have not been booked.
Yosemite National Park Ticketed Entry
Peak hour reservations are required beginning May 20th. Peak hour reservations will be available beginning 8 a.m. PST on March 23rd for arrivals May 20th through September 30th. Reservation is good for 3 consecutive days beginning with the day of arrival reserved. Only one reservation is required for all vehicle occupants.
Reservations must be purchased for $2 online or using the Recreation.gov mobile app. Reservations will not be sold at the park.
In addition, beginning May 13th, an additional batch of reservations will be released on a rolling basis seven days in advance of arrival. For example:
- May 13th at 8 am PT releases May 20th
- May 14th at 8 am PT releases May 21st
- May 15th at 8 am PT releases May 22rd
Glacier National Park Ticketed Entry
Entry Tickets for the Going-to-the-Sun Road and North Fork are required May 27, 2022 – September 11, 2022. Booking Window(s):
- Primary Booking Window: The initial release of tickets occurs 120 days in advance of the reservation start date at 8 a.m. MT. Example: On 03/02/2022, tickets will be released through 06/30/2022. On 3/03/2022, tickets will be released through 07/01/2022 First day requiring ticketed entry is 5/27. The last day requiring ticketed entry is September 11.
- Secondary Booking Window: an additional batch of tickets are released one day in advance at 8 a.m. MT on a rolling daily window. Example: On May 26th, tickets will be available for May 27th; on May 27th tickets will be available for May 28th. First day requiring ticketed entry is 5/27. The last day requiring ticketed entry is September 11.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Vehicle Reservations
Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be implementing a temporary parking reservation system for Laurel Falls trailhead parking areas a strategy to improve visitor experience and safety as well as protect resources. Parking will be allowed in paved, designated areas only. Visitors without a ticket will not be able to park at Laurel Falls trailhead parking areas.
Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area – Scenic Drive Timed Entry
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA) is known as the premier outdoor recreation experience just minutes away from the brightly lit and bustling Las Vegas Strip. The Scenic Drive, a 13 mile-one-way paved road, provides access to explore the many special canyons and sandstone hills in the heart of the Conservation Area.
- Primary Booking Window: Reservations will be available up to 30 days in advance at 7 a.m. PT on a rolling daily window.
- Secondary Booking Window: Reservations will also be available two days in advance at 7 a.m. PT on a rolling daily window. Example: On November 1, reservations will be available for November 3; on November 2 reservations will be available for November 4.
Mount Evans Recreation Area Timed Tickets
Traverse the highest paved road in North America on Mount Evans, the 14th tallest 14er in Colorado. On the 15-mile one-way drive, you can stop at Mount Goliath Nature Center, Summit Lake Park, and the Summit Interpretive area of Mount Evans.
- Primary Booking Window: 75% of the timed tickets will be available 30 days in advance of the first of the month at 10 a.m. ET. Example: On June 1, tickets will be available for the dates of July 1-31.
- Secondary Booking Window: 25% of the timed tickets will also be available two days in advance at 10 a.m. ET on a rolling window. Example: On June 1 tickets will be available for June 3; on June 2 tickets will be available June 4.
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge Ticketed Entry
All adults need a reservation and will be required to pay the $1.00 reservation fee per person (children 15 and under are free and do not need a reservation). It is highly suggested to have a printed or downloaded digital copy of your entry ticket available prior to arrival as cell service at the Refuge is limited. Current pass holders must show actual pass and ID with an entry ticket for validation.
- Timed reservation tickets will be available for advanced reservations on a rolling 60 days in advance. Example: On July 9th, tickets will be available through September 7th. Reservations may be made online up until the designated time of entry, as availability allows.
Brainard Lake Recreation Area Timed Tickets
Five sites will require Day Use parking tickets: Brainard Lake Picnic Site, Red Rock Lake Picnic Site, Mitchell Lake Trailhead, Long Lake Trailhead, and Niwot Picnic Site/Trailhead. Timed tickets go on sale at 8:00 am MT / 10:00 a.m. ET the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend and will be continually released on a 14-day rolling window. You must arrive on the entry date, at the entry time, and park in the parking lot indicated on your timed ticket. Once your timed ticket is validated at the welcome station – or scanned in your windshield if arriving outside of when the Welcome Station is staffed – your day-use parking is good for the remainder of the day. Only one day use timed ticket is required for the vehicle and all occupants.
Lewis River Recreation Area Tickets
The Lewis River Recreation Area is located in the heart of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This area provides access to the popular Lewis River Trail and associated waterfall viewing. Reservations are required June 15 through September 15. Reservation MUST be printed AND a hard copy must be placed on the vehicle dashboard upon arrival in the Lewis River Recreation Area.
- Primary Booking Window: Tickets are available beginning 2/11/2022 for the summer of 2022 for arrival between June 24th to September 9th. Any visitation prior to these dates do not require a ticket. Tickets are advanced reservation only and a limited number are available per day.