These Popular National Parks Require Reservations This Summer
Editor's Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.
America's national parks are classic summer vacation destinations. Whether you're embarking on a cross-country road trip to stop at iconic spots like Yellowstone or Grand Canyon or simply taking a day trip to your nearest park, you're bound to find a great outdoor adventure. Before the pandemic, visiting these parks was relatively simple - you could plan your trip, book any hotel or campsite, and get outside. This year, however, things are a little more complicated, as several national parks are requiring reservations for the summer. It might take a little extra planning, but you can still explore the country's most incredible landscapes.
And although many of the most popular national parks, like Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains, do not require reservations this year, we recommend making any tour or accommodation bookings well in advance as this summer is ramping up to be a busy season for the parks. Here's what you need to know about national park reservations for summer 2021.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of the popular national parks managing attendance through a reservation system this summer. Reservations are required to enter Yosemite every day through Sept. 30. If you're driving into the park, you'll need to pay an entrance fee ($35 for cars with 15 or fewer passengers) and have either a day-use reservation, a campground reservation, a park lodging or hotel reservation, a private lodging or vacation rental reservation in Foresta, Yosemite West, or Wawona, a Yosemite wilderness permit, a Yosemite Half Dome permit, or commercial use authorization. Once you show proof of one of these reservations, you'll receive a vehicle permit to enter the park that is valid for three consecutive days. This only applies to people driving to the park - those arriving via a Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System bus, bike, on foot, or on horseback don't have a make reservation to enter. Annual and lifetime pass holders will need reservations, too. Make a day-use reservation at recreation.gov, and visit the Yosemite website for more details.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Now through Oct. 11, timed entry permits are required to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. There are two types of reservations available - one for the Bear Lake Road Corridor, which includes access to the rest of the park, and one for the park excluding the corridor. Reservations aren't required on the Bear Lake Road Corridor before 5 a.m. or after 6 p.m, and they're not mandatory for the rest of the park before 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m. Last year's system limited reservations to about 60% of the park's total capacity, but this year, they'll be based on 75 to 85% of the total capacity, allowing more visitors to visit the area's stunning mountain landscapes. Make your reservations on recreation.gov, and find more details on the Rocky Mountain National Park website.
Acadia National Park
Guests visiting Acadia National Park through Oct. 19 will have to make reservations to drive Cadillac Summit Road. Reservations are $6 and can be made on recreation.gov up to 90 days in advance. There are two options available: sunrise reservations with two-hour entry windows and daytime reservations with 30-minute entry windows. The sunrise times vary by month, so visit Acadia's website for exact details. You'll also need a park pass, which costs $30 per private vehicle.
Glacier National Park
No summer visit to Glacier National Park is complete without a drive down Going-to-the-Sun Road, but visitors will have to do a little extra planning to enter this scenic stretch of the park. Through Sept. 6, guests entering Going-to-the-Sun Road at West Glacier or St. Mary or via the Camas Road with a private vehicle or motorcycle between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. will need a park pass (the typical seven-day vehicle permit is $35) and $2 entry reservation ticket or service reservation. Service reservations include overnight accommodations and various activities and tours. Find more information on Glacier National Park's website, and make reservations at recreation.gov.
Haleakalā National Park
Years before the pandemic, Haleakalā National Park instituted a reservation system for guests hoping to watch the sunrise from the park's summit, so those visiting the national park now and in the future will need to do a little extra planning to witness the unforgettable sight. Reservations are required for vehicles entering the park between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. - find them at recreation.gov up to 60 days in advance.