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Avoiding Crowds By Booking Reservations: Here’s Everything You Need to Know to Visit Popular National Parks in 2024

The National Park Service is planning for the busy 2024 visitor season, and part of that is handling crowds. Many parks continue to see record-setting attendance and busy roads. While more people outdoors is always good, national park officials must also consider conservation and safety. That means many parks are once again using a reservation system.

Reservations for Rocky Mountain National Park

national park reservations
(Source: NPS)

Rocky Mountain National Park announced their continued use of their reservation pilot system this week. Reservations are timed entry permits and will be needed at this Colorado park beginning May 24 and running through mid-October. 

The system will be the same that the park used in 2023. Visitors can purchase a Bear Lake Corridor pass or a pass for the “rest of the park.” The Bear Lake pass also allows visitors in other parts of the park, but the popular entrance is blocked for other visitors. Passes go on sale a month in advance, with a select few passes held for the day before.

Rocky Mountain officials reported a 44% increase in visitors from 2012 to 2019. The biggest year was 2021, when 4.4 million people headed to this popular park. 

The park began testing some visitor reservations in 2016 and used the summer entry plan in the last few years. Rocky Mountain National Park is asking for feedback on how to protect the park for future generations.

Reservations for Glacier National Park

do i need a reservation for a national park
(Source: NPS)

Glacier National Park is also doing a timed entry system for three different gates. However, the Montana park is changing its permits for 2024. Each purchased reservation is now only valid for one day. Previously, the pass was for three days.

“Our balanced approach for the 2024 pilot reflects feedback from Tribes, the public, partners, and stakeholders, particularly regarding access to the Apgar Village area and Two Medicine,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Dave Roemer in a press release. “We also heard that knowing what park operations and access will look like sooner rather than later is important.”

The West Entrance and North Fork reservations run from May 24 to September 8. The Many Glacier Valley entryway requires reservations starting July 1.

Park officials say another change for 2024 is no reservations needed for access to the popular Going-to-the-Sun Road if you’re entering from the east side beyond Rising Sun.

Like other parks, reservations will cost $2 plus the park entry fee when you arrive.

Reservations for Arches National Park

timed entry for arches
(Source: NPS)

Arches National Park is repeating their 2023 method as well and plans to keep the same reservation system in place for the summer of 2024. Unlike other parks that allow guests to book one month out, visitors to Arches can get a timed entry permit three months in advance. 

Park officials say they’ve had positive feedback from visitors who appreciate the guaranteed entry.

“We received many positive comments from people who enjoyed the guaranteed arrival time and reduced congestion they experienced during the 2023 vehicle reservation pilot,” said Arches National Park Acting Superintendent Brendan Bray in a press release. “A repeat pilot program in 2024 will help us learn more about how such systems can provide visitors with the opportunity for enjoyable experiences while protecting the extraordinary landscapes they come to see.”

The reservations begin in April, meaning April passes are available starting in January. The park will use timed entry through October.

Arches National Park is also taking public feedback for their reservation system. Visitors can send feedback online.

All reservations for the National Park System can be made on Recreation.gov when they become available.

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