As a result, several parks are implementing ticketed entry systems for day visitors to facilitate social distancing and prevent overcrowding. Visitors should bear in mind that most tickets will have to be purchased in advance. Here are the details of the requirements from some of the country's popular parks.
Acadia National Park
The popularity of Acadia National Park in New England means that it is one of the most frequented sites in the country. Visitors can enjoy watching the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain, which gives amazing views over the Atlantic, but vehicle reservations will be required for access from May 26 through October 19. There are two options, the first of which is a two-hour “sunrise” reservation, with the time frame changing from 3:30am to 5:30am as daybreak times alters.
There is also a daytime reservation with a 30-minute entry window, with 30% of entry slots being released 90 days in advance and the remainder two days prior to each date. Reservations cost $6 and do not include park entry fees. Tickets are available online here.
Glacier National Park
Glacier is one of the most spectacular national parks and is located in the Rocky Mountains. It is implementing a ticketed vehicle entry system from May 28 to September 6 for its historic Going-to-the-Sun Road, the 50-mile, vista-laden strip of asphalt, which offers drivers access to some of the most astounding sights in the Rockies.
A $2 entry reservation ticket must be purchased—in advance—by day visitors entering by car or motorcycle via Camas Road, St Mary or West Glacier between 6am and 5pm, in addition to park entry fees. The tickets are valid for seven days, and 75% of the reservations will be available 60 days in advance from April 29, with the remaining 25% available here two days in advance.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park in California is famous for its spectacular waterfalls and massive granite rock formations, notably El Capitan and Half Dome. It is implementing a ticketed system for day visitors entering by private vehicle from May 21 through September 30.
Each $2 permit is valid for three days between the hours of 5am and 11pm and doesn't include park entrance fees. Initial ticket sales open on April 21 here, and a limited number of reservations will become available seven days before the desired entry date.
Rocky Mountain National Park
The crown jewel of Colorado's national parks, Rocky Mountain National Park is hugely popular. To avoid overcrowding, it is introducing a two-tiered permit system from May 28 to October 11. The regular day reservations are for entry between 9am and 3pm, and they exclude access to the busy Bear Lake Road.
Permits for the Bear Lake Road Corridor allow for entry between 5am and 6pm. The $2 day entry permits will go on sale on 1 May, and the park will sell 75% of permits in advance and the remainder at 5pm on the day prior to entry.
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park is famous for the soaring red-and-white cliffs of Zion Canyon, one of southern Utah's most dramatic natural wonders. Adventurous travelers can enjoy hiking downriver through the Narrows gorge or peering beyond Angels Landing after a 1500ft ascent.
Some parts of Zion require reservations this summer. The upper Zion Canyon and Scenic Drive are closed to cars, and visitors must make a reservation for the park's $1 shuttle service to access the sights there. Tickets are released on the 16th and the last day of each month, and some are available online at 5pm one day in advance. Once visitors board at the main visitor center, it is possible to hop-on and hop-off for the day. A limited number of shuttle tickets are also available at the visitor center between 2pm and 4pm daily.
Further information can be found on Recreation.gov's website here.
This article was first published on April 23, 2021 and updated on April 29, 2021.