Last Updated on January 8, 2024

The US boasts 63 national parks renowned for their grandeur and beauty. For more than 150 years, the National Park Service has skillfully managed millions of acres for the “enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.”

Since my childhood, visits to national parks have been an absolute treat, offering so many surprises, be it cascading waterfalls at Yosemite, active volcanoes shooting lava at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, or meteor showers and lunar eclipses in Death Valley.

Jaw-dropping natural wonders and unforgettable terrains have drawn millions of visitors a year to these stunning parks. But with so many visitors arriving, especially at peak season, many of the most popular parks have become congested and overcrowded, taking away the joy of being at one with nature – not to mention the long wait times to enter the park.

Hence, a reservation system was introduced by the National Park Service to counter wait times and make entry smoother for both visitors and park authorities.

So you know before you go, these are the national parks requiring reservations in 2024.

Arches National Park

One of the many parks that saw visitation numbers skyrocket in recent years, Arches National Park in Utah will continue its timed reservation system beginning on April 1, 2024.

According to the National Park Service, visitation to Arches National Park increased 73 percent between 2011 and 2021 with almost two million annual visitors.

The park will re-introduce a pilot program similar to its 2023 model. Reservations will be released three months in advance allowing travelers to enter the park during a one-hour window after which they are free to stay as long as they wish.

The reservation is free, with a $2 recreation.gov processing fee.

Glacier National Park

Montana’s Glacier National Park is implementing a pilot vehicle reservation system beginning May 24, 2024, for the west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road and North Fork, and July 1 for Many Glacier.

Vehicle registrations will be valid for only one day versus the three-day reservation allowed in 2023 to issue more reservations. Parkgoers will be able to access Apgar Village amenities without a reservation and those visiting the west side, North Fork, and Many Glacier before 6 am or after 3 pm do not require vehicle registration.

The reservation is free with a $2 recreation.gov processing fee.

Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii

Sunrise at Haleakala.
Sunrise at Haleakala. Photo by Noreen Kompanik

This vast volcano dominates the eastern side of Maui, Hawaii, and at its highest point on the island offers incredible moon-like landscapes, epic hiking and unforgettable sunrise viewing.

Watching the sunrise at Haleakalā is not only one of the most popular things to do on the island, but those who have done it (like our family) will attest to it being an almost religious experience.

Because of its popularity, however, the park requires advance sunrise-visit reservations to offer the best experience and protect the park’s natural and cultural resources. Aside from the four-hour window at sunrise, reservations are not required at any other time during the day.

The pass is only $1 per vehicle, available on recreation.gov.

Rocky Mountain National Park

One of the most popular U.S. national parks, Rocky Mountain National Park was the first US national park to implement a temporary timed entry permit in 2020 to reduce visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, the park experienced a 44% increase in visitation, resulting in 4.4 million visits.

On May 24, 2024, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park will bring back its reservation system that will continue through October 20, 2024. Visitors will be required to obtain two different timed permits to access both Bear Lake Road Corridor from 5 am to 6 pm and the rest of the park from 9 am to 2 pm.

The reservation is free, with a $2 recreation.gov processing fee.

Zion National Park

Another popular national park forced to implement a pilot permit lottery system released on a rolling basis, Zion National Park is one of Utah’s most visited national parks.

Though the program doesn’t cover the entire park for 2024, the reservation system will focus on one particular area: the world-famous Angels Landing Trail. As a result of the reservation system, hikers report the program has succeeded at reducing crowding and congestion, especially on the last half mile of trail from Scout Lookout to Angels Landing.

Reservations are free, except for a $2 recreation.gov processing fee.

Yosemite National Park

California’s awe-inspiring Yosemite National Park has announced a “Peak Hours Plus” 2024 vehicle reservation pilot system for park entry on the following dates:

  • On weekends from February 10 through February 25 as well as President’s Day on Monday February 19.
  • On weekends and holidays from April 13 to June 30
  • Every day from July 1 to August 16
  • On weekends on holidays from August 17 to October

Reservations will be required for vehicles entering the park between 5 am and 4 pm on these specified dates but not necessary for entry after 4 pm.

Day-use permits run $2 per vehicle.

Author

  • Noreen Kompanik

    Noreen Kompanik is a retired registered nurse, legal nurse consultant and military spouse turned travel writer. She launched her travel writing career in 2014 and has over 1,000 published articles in a variety of digital and print publications.