US National Parks With Timed Entry Pass Requirements – 2024 Dates You Need To Know

Our regular readers will know we love nothing better than incorporating national parks into our family road trips, but certainly the humble national park trip can come with its challenges.

National parks have always been popular with US residents and international visitors alike but recent years have seen numbers swell at many locations to unsustainable levels.

Rather than deny entry to any of the country’s 63 national parks, a timed entry system was introduced by the National Parks Service in 2020 to stem the flow of traffic throughout the day at those receiving the highest visitor numbers.

Not only can the crowds have a devastating impact on the parks that are supposed to be protected, but they can also cause overcrowding in the surrounding towns that comply don’t have the infrastructure to support the number of visitors

Whilst many parks have already operated permits for camping and other activities within the park for many years, this timed entry system applies to simply enter the park or key roads, trails, or parking lots within the parks at peak times.

These timed systems will be continuing in 2024 with a small fee for the service, booked through recreation.gov. Here’s what you need to know and which national parks will be impacted in summer 2024.

Top Tip – You can register your account with recreation.gov in advance of reservations opening to save you time when you go to make your reservation.

3 National Parks With Park-Wide Timed Entry Summer 2024

Map of USA on a phone showing the national parks with timed entry systems and a collage of national park photos

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Best Months: April & May, September & October
Hours: Open 24 hours, 365 days a year (some extreme weather closures may occur)
Regular Entrance Fee: $30 single-day vehicle pass

Reservation Cost: $2 per vehicle
Effective Dates: May 24, 2024 – October 22, 2024
Hours Required: 5:00 AM to 6:00 PM for the Bear Lake Corridor and 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM for the rest of the park (2-hour entry window)
Tickets Released:  60% of reservations can be applied for on the 1st of the month at 8:00AM MDT for the following month, i.e.

  • May 1, 2024 for May 24 – June 30, 2024
  • June 1, 2024 for July 2024
  • July 1, 2024 for August 2024
  • August 1, 2024 for September 2024
  • September 1, 2024 for October 2024

40% of reservations will now be made available the day prior at 5:00 pm

Good to Know

Three are two different reservation tickets for this park; Option 1: Park Access + Bear Lake Road Corridor will include the entire Bear Lake Road Corridor (from the junction of Trail Ridge Road to the Bear Lake Trailhead) plus access to scenic driving routes the rest of the park.

NB Option 1 does not guarantee trailhead car parking. You may still need to park your vehicle at Rocky’s Park & Ride Parking Area and use the park’s free shuttle system to access desired trailheads. 

Option 2 is ‘rest of park” access, excluding Bear Lake Corridor. This runs only until October 15, 2024.

If you have booked camping, guided trips, or commercial tours, you do not need to purchase the day-use reservation in addition. Campers must pay a $36 non-refundable admin fee for reservations from May 1 to October 31, 2024.

Timed entry does not apply after 6:00 PM/2:00 PM and outside of the peak summer season.

USA National Parks Timed Entry - Rocky Mountains NP Colorado

Glacier National Park, Montana

Best Months: July to September
Hours: Open 24 hours, but outside of summer there can be seasonal closures for snow
Entrance Fee: $35 (summer), $25 (winter) valid for 7 days

Timed Areas: Going-to-the-Sun Road, North Fork, and Many Glaciers
Reservation Cost: $2 per vehicle
Effective Dates: May 24, 2024 – September 8, 2024 West Entrance and North Fork; from July 1 – September 8 Many Glaciers
Hours Required: 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Tickets Released: Some permits are available 120 days in advance on a rolling basis. Open from 8:00 AM MST:

  • From January 25, 2024 for May 24-June 30, 2024
  • From March 1, 2024 for July 2024
  • From April 1, 2024 for August 2024
  • From May 1, 2024 for September 1-8, 2024
  • The remaining reservations will be released at 8:00 AM 24 hours in advance

Good to Know

The reservation system has been slightly altered in 2024 to cover different areas of the park that received the most vehicular traffic, Two Medicine has been removed. Each is a unique scenic drive in Montana and will require a different reservation.

While the timed tickets are only needed for parts of the park, you essentially can’t experience the national park over the summer without them.

Your permit for the Going-to-the-Sun road is now only valid for one day (was 3 consecutive days), Likewise, North Fork and Many Glaciers permits are only valid for one day. They do not guarantee the availability of trailhead parking.

Visitors staying within the park with lodging or camping reservations or those with commercial tour reservations do not need to purchase a timed entry permit.

USA National Parks Timed Entry - Glacier NP Montana

Arches National Park, Utah

Peak Visitor Months: May, June & September
Hours: 
Open year-round, 24 hours a day
Regular Entrance Fee:
 $30 per vehicle valid for 7 days

Reservation Cost: $2 per vehicle
Effective Dates: April 1, 2024 – October 31, 2024
Hours Required: 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily
Tickets Released: You can make reservations up to three months in advance from 8:00 AM MST/MDT. For example, on April 1, 2024, tickets will release for all of July 2024.

A limited number will be available 1 day prior at 6:00 PM.

Good to Know 

Your timed access ticket provides access for one private vehicle to the main Scenic Drive within Arches. Your timed ticket is only valid for entry for one hour – early or late you may be denied entry.

Once inside the park, you can stay as long as you like for one day, meaning the morning tickets are still more valuable to make the most of your time and available parking at trailheads.

If you hold a camping permit you do not additionally require a timed entry ticket. Similarly, visitors arriving on a bicycle or by foot do not require a timed entry reservation.

USA National Parks Timed Entry - Arches NP Utah

Yosemite National Park, California

Please note, park wide restrictions that were put in place during the pandemic and whilst critical infrastructure upgrade work was occurring in 2022 are no longer required in 2024. See exceptions to this below in the area-specific permit section.

5 National Parks With Area-Specific Reservations Required

Whilst there’s no park-wide entry reservation system needed for these national parks, you do need a reservation to enter some of the most popular areas of the park to prevent congestion at peak times.

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Best Months: April to July
Hours: Open 24 hours a day, all year
Regular Entrance Fee: $30 per vehicle, valid for 3 days

Timed Area: Haleakala Summit during sunrise only
Reservation Cost: $1 per vehicle
Effective Dates: 365 days a year
Hours Required: 3:00 AM to 7:00 AM
Tickets Released: 60 days in advance

Good to Know 

Haleakala National Park is home to Maui’s highest peak and watching the sunrise from the summit is the park’s most popular experience.

To ensure all visitors can get a park at the four highest elevation parking lots (Summit, Haleakala Visitor Center, Kalahaku, and Leleiwi) during sunrise hours, all private vehicles must have a valid reservation.

Visitors should arrive at least 90 to 120 minutes before sunrise to expedite entry into the park. Those arriving closer to sunrise may find they are delayed even with a timed entry permit.

Your reservation does not guarantee you parking at any particular lot, staff will guide you to available parking.

USA National Parks Timed Entry -Haleakala NP Hawaii

Acadia National Park, Maine

Best Months: May, June, July & September
Hours: Year-round, 24 hours a day
Regular Entrance Fee: $35 per vehicle, valid for 7 days

Timed Area: Cadillac Summit Road
Reservation Cost: $6 per vehicle
Effective Dates: May 22 – October 27, 2024 [open on rolling basis from February 22, 2024]
Hours Required: All-day
Tickets Released: 30% will be available 90 days in advance, 70% will be available from 10:00 (EST/EDT) 2 days in advance

Good to Know 

Cadillac Summit Road is a 3-mile scenic drive to the highest peak within Acadia National Park. It is the most popular part of the park to visit and therefore draws the most congestion.

Tickets can be purchased for either the sunrise or the daytime. You can enter for up to 90 minutes after your reserved time. You can only purchase one sunrise ticket every seven days, whereas the daytime ticket can be pre-booked as many times as you wish.

Timed reservations only apply to private vehicles; hikers and bicyclists do not require a permit.

NB RVs and any vehicles over 21 feet are not permitted on Cadillac Summit Road.

USA National Parks Timed Entry - Acadia NP Maine

Zion National Park, Utah

Best Months: May & April, September & October
Hours: Open 365 days a year, however, shuttle service is only running during daylight hours.
Regular Entrance Fee: $35 valid for 7 days

Timed Area: Angel’s Landing Trail
Reservation Cost: $6 per application (non-refundable) + additional $3 per person if you win a permit
Effective Dates: Year round, 4 seasonal lotteries (see below)
Hours Required: 24 hours a day
Tickets Released: Varies depending on the lottery you enter. There are two options:

  • Seasonal Lottery: Determines group permits for each season, opening 1 to 3 months in advance. Entry to this lottery happens right before the beginning of each new season. Each applicant can apply for up to 6 people and choose up to 7 desired time slots in order of preference.
  • Day Before Lottery: Each day before the desired hike date the lottery is open to enter between 12:01 AM and 3:00 PM. Results are advised by email at 4:00 PM.

Good to Know

This one really is a lottery; just because you apply doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want – this really is the hardest park to get into during peak times and you should manage expectations accordingly with a backup plan.

Once issued, you are given a timeframe to enter; before 9:00 AM, between 9:00 AM and noon, and after 12:00 PM.

You can apply for both lotteries, paying both sets of non-refundable entry fees. Note that if successful, you then pay for the permit PER PERSON.

  • Spring Lottery (visits April 1 to May 31, 2024) opens January 1 to 20, 2024. Results announced January 25, 2024
  • Summer Lottery (visits June 1 to August 31, 2024) opens April 1 to 20, 2024. Results announced April 25, 2024
  • Fall Lottery (visits September 1 to November 30, 2024) opens July 1 to 20, 2024. Results announced July 25, 2024
  • Winter Lottery (visits 1 December to 28 February, 2025) opens October 1 to 20, 2024. Results announced October 25, 2024
USA National Parks Timed Entry - Zion NP Utah

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Best Months: June to October
Hours: Shenandoah National Park is open 24 hours, however, portions of Skyline Drive (the only public road through the Park), can be closed during inclement weather.
Regular Entrance Fee: $30 per vehicle valid for 7 days

Timed Area: Old Rag Mountain
Reservation Cost: $1 per person
Effective Dates: March 1 to November 30, 2024
Hours Required: 24 hours a day
Tickets Released: 1 month ahead

Good to Know 

Old Rag Mountain, the most popular destination within the park, offers adventurous rock scrambles and 360-degree views.

Visitors to Old Rag Mountain, including hikers on the Saddle, Ridge, and Ridge Access trails, will need to obtain an Old Rag day-use ticket in advance. Entry does not guarantee parking space at your chosen trailhead.

USA National Parks Timed Entry - Shenandoah NP Virginia

Yosemite National Park, California

Best Months: May to September
Hours: Open 24 hours a day, all year
Regular Entrance Fee: $35 per vehicle, valid for 3 days

There will be two types of special permits needed in 2024

Permit Area: Horsetail Fall
Reservation Cost: $2 per vehicle
Effective Dates: February 10-11, 17-19, & 25-26, 2024
Hours Required: Day-Use
Tickets Released: 50% at 8:00AM PST January 13, 2024; 50% at 8:00 AM 2 days prior

Good to Know 

Horsetail Fall experiences a natural phenomena which occurs when the falls are backlit by the sunset, making them appear to be on fire.

The unique lighting effect is anticipated for mid to late February. Given the droves of photographers and curious onlookers that wish to experience this, traffic congestion and safety concerns mean a permit is now required for these specific dates over weekends.

Timed Area: Half Dome Permits (Half Dome Stewardship Plan)
Reservation Cost: $10 application fee per person, plus $10 if successful
Effective Dates: May 24 to October 15, 2024 (dependent on conditions)
Hours Required: Daily when cables are up
Tickets Released: By lottery, open March 1 to 31, 2024. Announced 11 April 2024

Good to Know 

Chains are erected to assist in this hike over the summer months. A daily quota is given for 225 day hikers and 75 overnight backpackers. Applicants can apply on behalf of up to 6 hikers in their group for a fixed date or range of dates.

There will be a subsequent daily lottery, with the number available based on daily under-use/cancellation. These will be available to apply for 2 days before, midnight to 4:00 PM. E.g. apply Thursday for a Saturday climb.

NB Overnight backpackers also need a Wilderness permit.

USA National Parks Timed Entry - Yosemite NP California

Will More National Parks Be Added In The Future?

It’s interesting to note that only one of the top 10 most visited US National Park sites in 2022 is on this year’s list of National Parks requiring reservations in 2024.

Some of the country’s most popular parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and the Great Smoky Mountains, are accessible without reservation.

This does not mean they will not require reservations in the future, nor that you may see significant congestion, lack of parking spaces, and tailbacks within the parks; if parking lots are full, rangers will close particular areas within the parks.

Information correct at the time of publication, last updated February 2024. Parks may put emergency measures in place or subsequently change their entry policy at any time, so always check information directly with NPS and recreation.gov before planning your national park visit to avoid disappointment.

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