The American Explorer’s Guide to National Park Reservations

Don’t end up on the outside looking in.

During the summer months, our nation’s national parks receive a predictable but steady uptick in visitors. It’s a confirmation that Americans appreciate the simple joy that comes with a warm-weather visit to the great wide open. However, showing up unannounced to a portion of our majestic public lands can prove to be a tactical error.
As such, we here at GOVX strive to get you primed on which specific parks require advanced reservations.
Ready to get out there? Let’s go.

Located mainly on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine. Acadia National Park features nearly 50,000 acres of rocky coastal views, 150 miles of epic trails, and stunning estuary and intertidal habitats. Known as the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast” for a reason, visitors flock to the park to witness its majestic sunrises and sunsets.

Advanced Reservations Required: Vehicle

During the months of May to October, all guests much have a vehicle reservation to drive Cadillac Summit Road.

Dates: May 22nd to October 27th | Cost: $6 (on top of $20 entrance fee).

As the name would suggest, Arches National Park is full of...well...arches. Over 2,000 of them in fact, included the picturesque Delicate Arch. Long an outdoorsman’s destination for its elevated sights, unparalleled hikes, and southeastern Utah desert vibes, Arches National Park welcomes around 1.5 million visitors each year.

Advanced Reservation Required: Timed Entry

From April to October, the only way you’re getting in while there’s still daylight is by reservation. Most entry tickets are released three months in advance, so there’s a bit of impetus to arrange for your visit as soon as you can. You may also purchase 7-day or annual passes.

Dates: April 1st to October 31st, from 7am to 4pm

Cost: $2 (on top of the $15 entrance fee)

Quite literally, this place rocks. Famous for its underground majesty, Carlsbad Caverns takes visitors through a mesmerizing journey of diagenesis, stalactites and stalagmites, and limestone chambers. Oh yeah, there’s also bats. Bruce Wayne’s buddies serve as the unofficial welcome party at the cave’s natural entry point.

Advanced Reservation Required: Timed Entry

Enforced year-round, reservations are mandatory for all park visitors and are released 30 days in advance.

Dates: All year

Cost: $1 (on top of the $15 entrance fee)

It’s not every day you can backpack your way across glacier-capped mountains, observe mountain goats and grizzlies from a distance, and uncover the aptly named Hidden Lake. A trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park isn’t so much a visit it is a full-fledged American adventure.

Advanced Reservation Required: Vehicle

To access three distinct areas of the park, you’ll need a vehicle reservation. These areas consist of the Going-to-the-Sun Road,

Many Glacier, and North Fork.

Dates: Going-to-the-Sun Road (May 24th to September 8th from 6am to 3pm), Many Glacier

(July 1st to September 8th from 6am to 3pm), and North Fork (6am to 3pm)

Cost: $2 (on top of the $20-$25 entrance fee)

The islands aren’t all beaches, pig roasts, and sweet tropical drinks. For the ultimate outdoor experience in the Aloha State, one simply needs to spend a few days at Haleakala National Park. Home to the dormant Haleakala Volcano, you'll also find miles of rugged trails, breathtaking coastal views, and plenty of waterfalls. Did we add that it’s smackdab in a bamboo forest? Paradise is calling, people.

Advanced Reservation Required: Vehicle Reservation

To limit overcrowding during sunrise, advanced reservations are mandatory for those wishing to watch at the Haleakala summit.

Dates: All year

Cost: $1 (on top of the $30 entrance fee)

Serving as the gargantuan guardian of the Pacific Northwest, the volcanic Mount Rainier and the same-named national park attracts millions of avid hikers and nature appreciators each year. Largely considered one of the best parks to explore by foot, most visitors plan ahead to spend multiple days soaking it all in.

Advanced Reservation Required: Timed Entry

During peak season, to gain entry to the Paradise Corridor as well as the Sunrise Corridor you’ll need to reserve a permit

to hike your preferred section of the park.

Dates: Paradise Corridor (May 24th to September 2nd from 7am to 3pm), Sunset Corridor (July 3rd to September 2nd).

Cost: $2 (on top of the $15-$25 entrance fee)

I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky

The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullaby

Rocky Mountain high (Colorado)

Rocky Mountain high (high in Colorado)

John Denver’s greatest hit aside, the iconic alpine park features the only mountain range blessed to be featured on a beer bottle, over 350 miles of trails, shimmering lakes, and spectacular wildlife such as black bears, moose, and bighorn sheep. Hiking the Continental Divide Loop remains at the top of every traveler's list.

Advanced Reservation Required: Timed Entry

Rocky Mountain Park offers two distinct types of timed entry permits, Park Access and Park Access+.

Park Access: This permit gives you access to everything in Rocky Mountain National Park with the exception of Bear Lake Road. You can drive Trail Ridge Road, visit the Alpine Visitor Center, hike Longs Peak, Chasm Lake, and Gem Lake. The permit is in effect from 9am to 2pm.

Park Access+: This permit gives you access to everything in Rocky Mountain National Park and is valid from 5am to 6pm.

Dates: May 24th to October 20th

Cost: $2 (on top of the $25 daily or $35 weekly fee)

Virginia ain’t just for lovers. Preserving part of The Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park features the popular hiking trail, Old Rag. This 8-hour trek showcases 200,000 acres of American wilderness, rolling mountains, lush forests, and quiet hollows.

Advanced Reservation Required: 1-Day Permit for The Old Rag Trail

To limit the number of hikers and cause minimal disturbances to the wildlife, permits must be in possession of all trail visitors during

the busy season.

Dates: March 1st to November 30th.

Cost: $1 (on top of the $15 entrance fee)

The big daddy of ‘em all. Yosemite is home to deep valleys, ancient sequoias, and at one time -- Disneyland-style lines just to get in. To remedy this, all visitors must now make a reservation to enjoy the park’s natural attractions such as the John Muir Trail, Glacier Point, and more.

Advanced Reservation Required: Timed Entry

Due to the popularity of the park, peak season extends from mid-April to late October.


- April 13th to June 30th, reservations required Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays to enter the park between 5am and 4pm.

- July 1st to August 16th, reservations required for each day between 5am and 4pm.

- August 17th to October 27th, reservations required Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays to enter the park between 5am and 4pm.

Cost: $2 (on top of the $30 entrance fee)

Utah’s first national park is breathtaking testament to our country’s natural beauty. The premier destination for hiking,

camping, mountain climbing, and lodging, visitors take in the spectacular canyons, red rocky terrain, and scenic waterfalls.

Advanced Reservation Required: Timed Entry

To hike any of the three most beloved trails, reservations must be made ahead of time for Angels Landing, the Subway, and the Narrows (from the top-down). All permits are awarded by lottery, both seasonally and on the day of your planned hike.

Dates: All-year

Cost: $6 (on top of the $30 entrance fee)


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