It’s Time To Make Summer 2022 Reservations At These National Parks

Believe it or not, it’s already time to start booking your summer 2022 National Park travel. Why so soon? Because over the past two years, National Parks have absolutely boomed — with many parks experiencing record visitation.

To accommodate demand and prevent over-tourism, there’s been a move towards more reservation and permitting systems at some of the heavily impacted parks. While some call this the end of spontaneity, as a frequent National Park traveler, I can tell you that the hassle on the front end is usually worth it. Reservations and permits lead to fewers crowds and frustrations, just what you want on a summer trip.

Here’s exactly what you need to do to start planning your next trip today.

Arches National Park – Utah

This is the pilot year for timed entry tickets at Arches National Park. As a frequent visitor to Moab, where the park is located, I understand why. Arches is one of the smaller National Parks by land size at 76,518 acres, but has become significantly more congested over the past few years – always landing in the top 20 most visited parks.

In an attempt to make the experience more enjoyable, you’ll now have to secure a timed entry permit before arrival.

How It Works:

If you’re visiting from April 3 – October 3 you’ll need a timed entry permit. For a $2 processing fee, permits are available three months in advance on a first-come, first-serve basis. Timed entry passes are already available for April, with the next release date of February 1 for permits for May visits. They become available at 8am MST on the release dates here.

What if I Don’t Get a Reservation?

Tickets are only necessary until 5pm – so spend the day at the nearby Canyonlands National Park or Dead Horse State Park until after that time.

Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado started requiring timed entry tickets during the high visitation season last year. This year the park is continuing the program — which will operate very similarly to last year.

How It Works:

There are two timed entry ticket options for entering the park between May 27 and October 10 of this year. The first option is full park access that includes Bear Lake Road – which gets you to some of the park’s most popular and epic hiking trails. You’ll need a reservation between the hours of 5am to 6pm.

The other option is park access without Bear Lake Road – which still includes a huge amount of space to explore. These reservations are needed to be in the park between 9am and 3pm. Permits are released monthly for the following month starting on May 2 at 10am MST for May 27 – June 30, then continuing thereafter. Initially, 25-30% of the permits will be held back from reservations to be released at 5pm for the next day.

Permits can be reserved here.

What if I Don’t Get a Reservation?

It’s a little simpler to visit Rocky Mountain without a reservation, as you can access the park after 3pm and then Bear Lake Road after 6pm.

Glacier National Park – Montana

Last year the hottest National Park Reservation to score was undoubtedly for the Going to the Sun Road at Glacier National Park in Montana. This year, the park is banking on the same enthusiasm and crowds, and is continuing it’s reservation system for the road and also a new area of the park.

How It Works:

From May 27 to September 11 vehicles will once again need a permit to access Going To The Sun Road. If you’ve never visited Glacier it may not seem like a big deal not to have access to just one road, but the thing is, almost every gorgeous vista, trail, or lake you have seen on Instagram is accessed through that road.

This year, Glacier is also instituting a reservation permit system for the North Fork Area that is accessed through the Polebridge Ranger Station.

Tickets will be available here by early March – costing $2 for processing and valid for just three days for Going to The Sun Road and just one day for North Fork (changed from seven last year). Each area of the park will require their own permit for entry.

What if I Don’t Get a Reservation?

You can still drive the road after 5pm without a ticket. Not a great solution for someone hoping to hike, but definitely still a great way to watch some epic sunsets.

Yosemite National Park – California

Yosemite is a crown jewel of the National Park system, and it’s no surprise the valley has experienced overcrowding for years. Despite that, there is still no official word on permitting or reservations to simply enter the park this summer (yet). For now, there are only reservations required to hike Half Dome and to camp in any campground or the backcountry.

How It Works:

Permits are required to hike the iconic Half Dome whenever the cables are up – which is traditionally the Friday before the last Monday in May through the second Monday in October. Only up to 300 hikers are allowed past the base of the subdome each day, so securing a permit in advance is crucial.

There is a one day hiker lottery that will take place in March, with 225 permits being issued each day.

What if I Don’t Get a Reservation?

There are daily lotteries for permits the next day that can be secured here during the season.

Acadia National Park – Maine

Acadia National Park has long been a favorite for summer road trippers. Less than a day’s drive from NYC and Boston, it is accessible for huge parts of the United States population. It is also just 65 square miles. So it can, and does, get very crowded.

Due to this, Acadia has had a reservation system for just one popular part of the park the past couple of years – Cadillac Mountain Road.

How It Works:

If you want to drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain between May 25 and October 22 you will need to secure a permit in advance. Thirty percent of the permits are released 90 days ahead of time and the other seventy percent are made available at 10am EST two days before they are valid.

Tickets are $6 and can be reserved here.

What if I Don’t Get a Reservation?

You can still hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain to catch one of the first sunrises in the US (the first sunrise can be seen between October 7 – March 6) or the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen. The hike is just 2.2 miles each way and rated as moderate.

Zion National Park – Utah

Zion, like many National Parks, has become increasingly popular over the past few years. It’s impressive rock formations draw visitors from all over the world, and many of them are interested in one particular hike – Angel’s Landing. The hike is just 2.4 miles each way, but up a 1,488 ft rock formation with an extreme amount of exposure (and views). It’s become a social media sensation and bucket list item for many travelers.

How It Works:
If you want to hike the iconic trail after April 1 you will need a permit to do so. The seasonal lottery for April 1 – May 31 is already closed, but you have plenty of time to get into the June 1 through August 31 lottery that runs from April 1-20.

The permits are non-transferable and will cost you $6 to apply.

What if I Don’t Get a Reservation?

There are also permits available the day before they are valid. These open each day after March 31 at 12:01am until 3pm MST. The permits that are granted are then issued at 4pm that day via email and a $3 charge.