If fresh air, nature, and wide open spaces have provided you a desperately needed respite over these past few years, you’re not alone. Last year, national parks saw 297 million visitors, and many beloved parks—including Arches, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Zion—blew past their previous visitation records. To both preserve natural resources and quell the recent overwhelming amount of visitors at popular parks in the West, many sites have introduced reservation systems that require visitors to book entry, permits, or campsites ahead of time.
Some systems are temporary as popular parks seek more permanent solutions. However, many reservation systems—such as at Haleakalā and Muir Woods—are expected to remain as they are. Here’s what you need to know before planning your next trip to a national park or monument.
Yosemite National Park in California
For a second year, an entrance reservation is required for those driving into Yosemite between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m from May 20 to September 30. Seventy percent of reservations for all dates will be available on recreation.gov or over the phone at 877-444-6777 on March 30. The remaining slots will be available seven days before the arrival date.
Plan ahead because spots are booked almost immediately. However, if you have lodging, camping, or in-park vacation rental accommodations or a wilderness permit, you do not need an additional reservation. Bring your photo ID, proof of reservation, and either a Park Pass or $35 entrance fee.
Muir Woods National Monument in California
Back in 2018, Muir Woods started requiring year-round parking and shuttle reservations due to limited parking and high visitation. You can reserve your spot up to 90 days in advance (released on a rolling basis) at gomuirwoods.com or by calling 1-800-410-2419. A limited number of reservations are released five days in advance. Parking costs $9 and a shuttle seat costs $3.50 per person over 16.