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6 Things To Know Before Visiting A National Park This Summer

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s shaping up to be another busy summer at America’s national parks. In fact, a couple of the country’s most popular parks have already seen record visits this spring.

Even though Europe is opening its borders to Americans, and it looks like cruise ships will soon head to Alaska, the great American road trip continues to reign.

A recent national survey by Priceline found that seven out of 10 Americans would like to take a road trip this summer. Meanwhile, a national survey by the RV Industry Association reports that national parks are a top vacation destination for both leisure travelers and RVers alike.

Combine an interest in recreating in the great outdoors with some lingering COVID-19 capacity restrictions, and you’ve got a recipe for a potentially crowded visitor experience at national parks from June through September, and even into October.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! With a little patience and a lot of planning, you can certainly have a satisfying trip to one of the 63 national parks in the United States in the coming months.

Below, FAQ-style, we’ll answer some key questions about visiting national parks this summer.

Do I Need Reservations To Enter A National Park This Summer?

It depends on which park you’re visiting. The vast majority of the 63 U.S. national parks don’t require reservations. However, at least five popular parks require reservations for timed entry, and the parameters vary:

  • Acadia National Park in Maine requires timed vehicle reservations to drive the popular Cadillac Summit Road through October 19.
  • Glacier National Park in Montana requires visitors to buy timed tickets for Going-to-the-Sun Road if they’re entering via certain locations through September 6. You can forgo the timed ticket if you have a lodging, camping, or activity reservation in the park.
  • Haleakala National Park in Hawaii has had a reservations system for viewing the sunrise at its dormant volcano for the past five years. Reservations are required year-round.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is selling timed permits daily through October 11. The permits allow entry in 2-hour windows.
  • Yosemite National Park in California requires reservations to drive into the park through September 30. If you have reservations for in-park lodging or camping, or if you have a wilderness or Half Dome permit, you don’t need a timed reservation.

Note that in addition to these reservation requirements, you’ll still need to purchase an entrance pass to display on your vehicle’s dashboard. To save time, find out if your park offers passes to buy online, or consider getting an annual National Park Service pass (more on that below).

Pro Tip: Some of the parks without timed entry reservations remain wildly popular and crowded. For example, over Memorial Day weekend Arches National Park reached capacity at 7:30 a.m. Rangers had to turn away visitors, but they allowed people to enter later in the day when the parking lots were less congested. Consider visiting national parks during the week, and be prepared to get up early to catch that worm!

Check out the rest of the article from Travel Awaits here.

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