Which National Parks Require Reservations in 2023?

Are you wondering which National Parks require reservations this year? Here you’ll find updates on Reservations plans for National Parks in 2023.

I’ll keep this page as current as possible, but also suggest you head to your National Park website as soon as you know where you are headed this year! Quick disclaimer – all the information in this post is based on the information available at the time of writing. But parks are constantly updating their programs so make sure you read through the details on each park’s website completely to avoid disappointment.

We are working on our bucket list goal of visiting all 63 National Parks. That makes it important that we keep up on this list. We know the pain of trying to get reservations and the joy of successfully booking our dates. So we are here to try to take some of that pain away from your National Park planning.

National Parks Requiring Reservations List

Here’s a quick list of National Parks that require reservations in 2023. You’ll find details about exactly what areas require reservations, how to get your tickets, and what dates and times are restricted further down in this article.

  • Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Arches National Park, Utah
  • Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  • Zion National Park, Utah

Why Do National Parks Require Reservations?

Many National Parks have been struggling with overwhelmed resources for over a decade. Overcrowding puts wear and tear on the land National Parks are designed to protect. A few parks put limits in place, but park entry reservations weren’t very widespread until 2020.

It wasn’t until the pandemic that parks were forced to find creative ways to reduce the number of visitors in the park at one time in order to continue to stay open. Since then, the busiest National Parks have been testing a variety of reservation systems. Over the past few years, those parks have continued to tweak their systems trying to find a balance that works for everyone.

National Park Reservation Systems are definitely a work in progress. For us, as visitors, it creates several challenges. First, with the rules changing each year it’s hard to know exactly which parks require reservations. And second, we have the challenge of getting that reservation, especially if we aren’t super organized travel planners!

What about Camping and Lodging Reservations?

A big change over the last few years has been the conversion of campgrounds within National Parks from First Come First Serve (no reservation required) to Reservation Campgrounds. At this point assume you need reservations. Go to the park’s website or Recreation.gov to confirm. There are a lot of inaccurate articles out on the web about reservations for camping in the parks because this has changed so fast. We update our campground information every spring to ensure you have the most accurate info.

Hotels within the parks have long required reservations far in advance. The demand far outweighs the number of hotel rooms available.

List of National Parks Requiring Reservations in 2023

I’ve covered the reservation or timed entry requirements for each National Park so you can easily determine if you need one. However, please go to the individual park’s web page as linked in the list for more details and to order your tickets. Just a quick note about a couple of things that might be confusing

  • Dates and time of day – if you arrive at the park outside the listed date or time window then you do not need a reservation. For example, if you arrive at Arches National Park at 6:30 am or at 5 pm, both times outside their reservation window, you can enter the park without a ticket.
  • Some parks require a pass for the whole park during their reservation period while others only require reservations for specific areas.
  • Every park has a different date when tickets become available. It’s important that you note when you can buy your passes. They usually go fast just like tickets to your favorite concert.

Acadia National Park Reservations To Drive Cadillac Summit Road

Dates: From May 24 to October 22, 2023
Location: Only to drive Cadillac Summit Road
Time of Day: All Day

If you wish to drive to the Summit of Cadillac Mountain to see the amazing view, including sunrises Acadia National Park will once again require a reservation for just this drive. There is no reservation required for any other part of the park.

There are two different types of reservations for the Cadillac Mountain Summit.

  • The first is for a Sunrise Entry which is in pretty high demand. The time of Sunrise Entry varies as the time of actual sunrise changes. Your ticket will clearly state your entry window if you wish to see the sunrise.
  • And the other type of ticket is for entry during the day, after sunrise.

May 24 through June 30 – 100% of the Cadillac Summit Road Sunrise and Daytime vehicle reservations will be available for purchase at 10:00 am (ET) two days in advance of the reservation date.

July 1 through October 22 – 30% of the Cadillac Summit Road Sunrise and Daytime vehicle reservations will be available for purchase 90 days in advance of the reservation date. And then 70% of the Cadillac Summit Road Sunrise and Daytime vehicle reservations will be available for purchase at 10:00 am (ET) two days in advance of the reservation date.

What if you don’t have a Reservation to Cadillac Summit?

You can enter the rest of Acadia National Park without reservation. There are tons of other fun things to do so don’t stress over it… just enjoy this gorgeous park.

More about Acadia National Park

Arches National Park Timed Entry Tickets

Dates: From April 1 to October 31, 2023
Location: Whole Park
Time of Day: Between 7 am to 4 pm

From April 1 to October 31 a timed entry ticket is required between 7 am and 4 pm.  The Arches National Park Timed Entry Tickets go on sale in a full month block 3 months in advance. That might be a little confusing so here are the dates tickets become available as shared on the park service website.

  • January 10 at 8 am MST: all April reservations open (April 1–30)
  • February 1 at 8 am MST: all May reservations open (May 1–31)
  • March 1 at 8 am MST: all June reservations open (June 1–30)
  • April 1 at 8 am MDT: all July reservations (July 1–30)
  • May 1 at 8 am MDT: all August reservations open (August 1–31)
  • June 1 at 8 am MDT: all September reservations open (September 1–30)
  • July 1 at 8 am MDT: all October reservations open (October 1–31)

A limited number of tickets will be available one day prior to entry at 6 pm MDT for a last-minute purchase.

What if you don’t have a timed entry ticket?

When you place your order, you must select a one-hour window to enter the park between 7 am and 4 pm. You can enter without a ticket before 7 am or after 4 pm. I want to share a word of caution that on the busiest days of the year the park might still be full at 4 pm and the rangers won’t open the gates until a few people leave. So be patient.

The good news is that in the heat of the summer, you should start your hike well before 7 am as it is boiling by 9 am. And evenings are a great time to explore and stay for the gorgeous sunsets.

More About Arches National Park

Glacier National Park

Dates: Varies for each area, see chart below
Location: Varies, see chart below
Time of Day: 6:00 am to 3:00 pm

Glacier National Park Entry Tickets will be offered as 5 different tickets this year, each for a different area of the park. So it is possible that you might need to book 5 tickets if you are planning to visit every corner of Glacier.

AreaDates RequiredTime of Day# of Days Covered
Going to Sun Rd West EntranceMay 26 through September 106 am to 3 pm3
Going to the Sun Rd East EntranceJuly 1 through September 106 am to 3 pm3
Polebridge – NorthForkMay 26 through September 106 am to 3 pm1
Many GlacierJuly 1 through September 106 am to 3 pm1
Two MedicineJuly 1 through September 106 am to 3 pm1

Passes are being released in 2 batches. The first batch is a block offered about 120 days in advance according to the chart below. Then another batch will be offered 24 hours before entry. If you are visiting the park before or after these dates you do not need a reservation.

Release Date 8 am MTFor These Admission Dates
February 1, 2023May 26 through June 30
March 1, 2023July 1 through July 31
April 1, 2023July 1 through July 31
May 1, 2023September 1 through September 10
Daily Subset ReleaseNext Day Tickets
Map showing roads that require reservations in Glacier National Park
Map of Areas Requiring Reservation in Glacier – Source NPS

What if you don’t have a timed entry ticket?

Before and after the window of July 1st and September 10th: There are big sections of the park that can be accessed without a reservation. However, keep in mind that Going to the Sun Road is usually not cleared of snow and opened to visitors until early July.

During the window of July 1st to September 10th: If you can’t get a reservation in advance, be prepared to day before to grab one of those last-minute ones. You’ll have to be online and ready at 8am MT. Be flexible. Although we all have our favorite areas of Glacier National Park, there is so much to see and do in each section. So jump in and enjoy where you can.

Worst case… you can’t get any reservations anywhere. Here are a few plan B options:

  1. Enter the park early or late.
  2. Spend the midday hiking in the nearby National Forest or White Water Rafting, then enter the park after 3 pm.
  3. Enter at the St. Mary Visitor Center and hop the shuttle across Going to the Sun Road. The lines for the shuttle can be long so be patient.
  4. Book a tour, that will give you access to that section of the park.

If you have campground or lodging reservations, that will act as your entry reservation for that particular section of Glacier, but not the whole park. For example, if you have a lodging reservation at McDonald Lake Lodge, that will let you in on Going to the Sun Road. But it would not serve as your reservation ticket to Many Glacier Area.

More About Glacier National Park

Haleakala National Park Sunrise Viewing Reservations

Dates: All Year
Location: All Vehicles Entering the Park for Sunrise
Time of Day: 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m

If you are planning to see an amazing sunrise, Haleakala National Park requires sunrise entry reservations. Entry into the park after 7 am does not require a reservation.

Tickets for Haleakala are released on a 60-day rolling at 7 am HST. This means that you can book your ticket 60 days in advance of your arrival date at 7 am HST. Another group of tickets is released 2 days in advance. These go within minutes and it is recommended that you are logged in and ready to buy as soon as tickets are released.

Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry

Dates: May 26 through October 22
Location #1: Bear Lake Road Corridor plus the Rest of Park
Time of Day: 5:00 am to 6:00 pm
Location #2: All the park except Bear Lake Corridor
Time of Day: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

Rocky Mountain National Park has extended their time entry system through the fall season. It is now May 26 through October 22, 2023.

There are 2 types of passes for Rocky Mountain National Park. The first is a pass that lets you enter everywhere except the Bear Lake Corridor. And even if you can’t get one of these passes, the restricted hours are only 9 am to 2 pm so it’s pretty easy to enter before or after that window.

The second pass is the Bear Lake Corridor Pass. Bear Lake is the most popular area in the park and even though it can handle a lot of cars and people, it’s always overcrowded on peak days. So these tickets are harder to get. My advice is to be flexible and you can likely get a ticket for this area. And if not? There are many more areas worth exploring in the park.

60% of passes are released in advance on a rolling schedule (below) at 8 am MT. The other 40% are released at 5 pm MT the day prior, so have your finger over that buy button!

Release Date at 8 am MTFor these dates admission
May 1, 2023May 26 through June 30
June 1, 2023July 1 through July 31
July 1, 2023August 1 through August 31
August 1, 2023September 1 through September 30
September 1, 2023October 1 through October 26

More About Rocky Mountain National Park

Shenandoah National Park: Old Rag Day Use Tickets

Dates: March 1 to November 30
Location: Old Rag Area Only
Time of Day: All Day

The only reservations for Shenandoah National Park are for Day Use Tickets for the Old Rag Area between March 1st and November 30th. If you are planning to hike Old Rag, one-half of the day-use tickets become available 30 days prior and the other half is released 5 days prior at 10:00 am ET.

Zion National Park: Angels Landing

Dates: All Year
Location: Angels Landing
Time of Day: All Day – Specific Time Slots will be Allotted

Hiking Angels Landing is the only activity in Zion National Park that will require a reservation. Reservations for Angels Landing are awarded through a lottery system. There are 2 types of lotteries.

The first is the day-before lottery which you can enter between midnight (12:01 AM) and 3:00 PM MT. You will be notified of the results by email by 4:00 PM. Applicants may apply for a permit for up to six people (including the applicant).

The other lottery is the Seasonal Lottery, where you can enter months in advance. The advantage of the seasonal lottery is you can request up to 7 dates or times giving you a greater chance of getting a reservation. Each season has a unique window to enter the lottery which is clearly defined on the Zion Reservations Page on Recreation.gov.

Our advice? Enter the seasonal lottery as soon as you know you want to go to Zion!

Related Note – The Zion Shuttle system is currently not planning to require reservations in 2023. (It has the past few years) We don’t expect that to change based on what the park service is sharing.

More About Zion National Park

Other Fee Changes in National Parks for 2023

Great Smoky Mountain National Park is implementing a parking fee of $5 per day, $15 per week or $40 annually this year.  It’s not a reservation for a specific time, it’s just a simple fee to park in the park to hike or picnic. You can order your Great Smoky Mountain National Park Parking Tags in advance or purchase them at the visitor’s center upon arrival in the park.

Because a major highway runs right through the park, there has never been an entrance fee to GSMNP. If you are just passing through and not stopping in any one spot for more than 15 minutes you won’t need a parking tag. Fees from the new parking tag will support park maintenance and trail improvements. 

Yosemite National Park Update: No Reservations this Summer

Yosemite National Park required reservations last summer and has indicated that they WILL NOT require reservations for 2023. Crossing my fingers that will stay true since it is on our vacation list.

FAQs for National Park Reservations

When should I purchase my reservation tickets?

Be ready to buy your passes or tickets on the day and time they become available. Many are in such high demand that they sell out immediately. Create your Recreation.gov account in advance and log in. For our road trips, I mark my calendar for each park with notes about reservations both for entry passes and for campgrounds to ensure I don’t miss out.

Can I get last-minute passes?

Each park is different so check their recreation.gov page. However, most set aside a portion of their passes to offer 1-5 days in advance. Very few have a same-day option.

Does my ticket include the entrance fee to the park?

No, if the park has an entry fee that needs to be paid separately.

What do I need to prove that I have a reservation?

You will need a copy of your confirmation email with the reservation number and a photo ID that matches the reservation. Reservations are not transferrable. The best practice is to print out your reservation since internet access is very limited or non-existent in most National Parks.

More to come as I get updates! I hope you have an amazing National Park adventure. Use these charts to make sure you know which National Parks require reservations.

Wondering which National Parks are going to require reservations this summer? Here's the detailed list of those parks with a guide to how to get your reservations.