2024 National Park Permits and Reservation Dates for the Top 12 National Parks

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Don’t miss your opportunity to visit some of the most sought-after National Parks in the United States. From Zion National Park to Rocky Mountain National Park permit, we’ve got you covered.

We have compiled all of the national park permit information for the 12 most popular National Parks to ensure you get every opportunity to secure the necessary permits if you plan to hike or camp overnight.

Yellowstone National Park Campervan Family

What permits do I need?

Permit requirements will vary from park to park. Not all National Parks require permits. Some may require them just to enter the park, like Rocky Mountain National Park, and others may just require permits to access specific trails, like Angels Landing in Zion National Park. Permit types can include hiking permits for some popular day hikes, backcountry/wilderness permits for overnight hikes, or car reservations for entrace.

Day hiking vs. backcountry overnight camping.

Most of the time you won’t need a permit for day hikes. There are just a handful of day hikes that require a permit, such as the Half Dome cables, Angels Landing, and the Wave.

Popular backcountry camping trails such as the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim trail or the John Muir trail can be difficult to secure permits for. We recommend setting a calendar reminder so you are able to apply as soon as they are available.

When Do I Need a Permit?

Most day hikes do not require permits. However, some popular trails in Zion National Park and Yosemite National Park do require them.

Day Hikes That Require Permits

  • Angels Landing – Zion National Park5 miles
  • The Narrows – Zion National Park – 16 miles
  • The Subway – Zion National Park – 7 miles
  • Half Dome, when the cables are up – Yosemite National Park – 16 miles

Backcountry (Wilderness) Permits

Permits are required to camp overnight in the backcountry almost everywhere. The only exception is Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, where you do not need a permit to backcountry camp.

On the other hand, there are two parks that prohibit backcountry camping. They are Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Acadia National Park.

Timed Entry or Car Reservation Systems

In an effort to control crowds, some National Parks have implemented a timed-entry system. Make sure you check to make sure you have a slot before leaving because they will NOT let you in without one, and you may not be able to enter the park at all if all of the slots are sold out.

National Parks With a Timed-Entry System in Place:

  • Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
  • Arches National Park, Utah
  • Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • Yosemite National Park, California
  • Haleakala National Park, Hawaii (sunrise only)
  • Acadia National Park, Maine (for Cadillac Summit Road only)

Your Complete Guide to Permit Requirements for the Top 12 National Parks

Visit the National Park Service Website

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Sunset

Blue Ridge Parkway Scenic Landscape Appalachian Mountains Ridges Sunrise Layers over Great Smoky Mountains

Closest Hub: New York

Hiking Permits: Not required for day hikes.

Backcountry Permits: Required to camp overnight, year-round, and in designated campsites only.

Apply for the permit up to 30 days before your first night on the NPS backcountry permit website for up to a 7-night permit.

Parking: Starting March 1, 2023, all park visitors parking for longer than 15 minutes must purchase parking tags.

Yellowstone National Park

Pexels Pixabay 261397

Closest Hub: Salt Lake City and Denver

Hiking Permits: Not required for day hikes.

Backcountry Permits: Backcountry Permits are required year-round, but the process of getting the permit varies by season.

Peak Season Backcountry Permits (May 15th – October 31st): Permits are available through an early access lottery system on Recreation.gov, which runs from March 1st to March 20th. Then there is a general on-sale period which begins on April 26th for the remaining permits.

Non-Peak Season Backcountry Permits (November 1st – May 14th): Permits are available via Recreation.gov beginning October 6th.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park permits are required for entry during peak season.

Closest Hub: Denver

Hiking Permits: Rocky Mountain National Park permits are not required for day hikes.

Backcountry Permits: Required year-round. Summer 2024 permits are available beginning on March 1st via Recreation.gov.

Timed Entry Permits: Reservations are required to enter the park from May 26th to October 22nd. One permit is for the Bear Lake Road Corridor, and a separate permit is for the rest of the park. So do your research to ensure you can access the hike you plan to do with the permit you apply for. Timed-entry permits are available beginning May 1st.

Zion National Park

Pixabay Image

Closest Hubs: Salt Lake City and Las Vegas

Hiking Permits: Beginning in 2024 Wilderness permits will be required for day-long activities. This includes canyoneering trips to the Left Fork (Subway) and the top-down route of the Virgin River Narrows. Permits are also required to attempt Angels Landing. Visit the park site for the most up-to-date information.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Closest Hub: Las Vegas

Hiking Permits: No permit required for day hikes.

Backcountry Permits: Permits are required for any camping in the backcountry, except for the developed campsites on the North and South Rims

Beginning in 2024 there is a new application process. Permits are available via a monthly lottery and can be purchased up to 6 weeks before your start date. Permits are available at Recreation.gov. After the lottery, any remaining permits will be available for reservation.

Grand Teton National Park

Nature Landscape

Closest Hub: Salt Lake City and Denver

Hiking Permits: Not required for day hikes.

Backcountry Permits: Permits are required for all overnight hikes. Summer reservations are available for hikes from May 1st to October from the park’s website. They are available for reservation from January 10th to May 15th only. If you miss these dates, permits are available in-person on a first-come first-served basis.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Beach Campervan Joy

Closest Hub: Chicago

Hiking Permits: Not required for day hikes.

Backcountry Permits: No backcountry camping is permitted at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Furthermore, there is no camping available anywhere in the park.

Acadia National Park

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Closest hub: New York

Hiking permits: Not required for day hikes.

Backcountry Permits: Backcountry camping is not permitted in Acadia National Park.

Vehicle Reservation for Cadillac Summit Road: Vehicle reservations are required from May 22nd to October 27th. Reservations open February 22nd.

Olympic National Park

Pexels robert schrader

Closest hub: Seattle

Hiking Permits: Not required for day hikes.

Backcountry Permits: Permits are required year-round for all overnight stays in the backcountry. Permits are available on a rolling basis, up to six months in advance.  Reservations for the summer season open on April 15th.

Joshua Tree National Park

Campervan by lake with mountain backdrop

Closest Hub: Los Angeles

Hiking Permits: Not required for day hikes.

Backcountry Permits: Permits are not required for backcountry camping within the park or the surrounding area.

Yosemite National Park

 

Mountain Adventure Campervan

Closest Hub: San Francisco

Hiking Permits: Permits are not required for most day hikes. However, permits are required to attempt Half Dome when the cables are up.

Half Dome Permits: Permits are available via a lottery system for all visits from May 24th to October 15th. The preseason lottery runs from March 1st – 31st and the daily lottery runs from May 22 to October 13th, and you must apply two days in advance.

Backcountry Permits: Permits are required to camp overnight in the backcountry. They are available via lottery at least 24 weeks in advance.

Glacier National Park

Campervan adventure - cole-allen-2cB599inAew-unsplash

Closest Hub: Seattle

Hiking Permits: Permits are not required for day hikes.

Backcountry Permits: Wilderness permits are required to camp in the backcountry in Glacier National Park. These permits are on sale from May 1st to September 3oth, and are available in-person or online.

Vehicle Reservations: Beginning May 2024, reservations will be required for the west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road and North Fork. In addition, Many Glacier goes live on July 1st.

Start Planning Your Trip!

Now that you are armed with all the permit and reservation information for the 12 most popular National Parks, you can begin planning your adventure. Escape Camper Vans has many professionally curated itineraries from all our locations, and they are the perfect starting point for any trip.

 

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