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9 US national parks that require a reservation in 2024

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

America’s outdoor spaces are becoming increasingly congested, so more US national parks will require a reservation in 2024

In 1872, the US established Yellowstone National Park, the first protected site in the country and only the second in the world after Bogd Khan Uul in Mongolia. Yellowstone soon became the international standard for the preservation of biodiversity and cultural history; a standard that has since been widely replicated around the globe.

In 2021, Yellowstone received a staggering 4,860,537 recreation visits, up 28% from 2020 (3,806,306 visits), making it the busiest year on record as pandemic-weary Americans headed for the nation’s outdoor spaces. May, June, July, August and September of that year were all the busiest months on record. In addition, July was the busiest month in Yellowstone’s history and the first time visitation exceeded one million visits in a single calendar month.

Despite a dip in 2022 because of early summer flooding, last year saw another hike in visitor numbers. October 2023 saw a 26% increase from the same period the previous year with 299,127 recreation visits in the month. Up to November 2023, the park had hosted a total of 4,446,509 recreation visits, up 37% from 2022.

The increase in visitors once again led to reports of overcrowding, parks closing their gates and local towns overrun with tourists. While Yellowstone has not begun a formal process yet, park managers have not ruled out introducing management strategies such as timed-entry systems or reservations in the future to counteract the unsustainable rise in visitor numbers.

As such, several parks have introduced systems including day-use reservations and timed-entry tickets designed to cut crowds and preserve the fragile landscapes, wildlife and ecosystems the parks were created to protect.

US National Parks that require a reservation

There are now nine national parks that have implemented ticketing procedures in some form. Below, we take a look at the US National Parks that require a reservation in 2024 along with details of when, where and how to organise the permits.

1. Acadia National Park

Location: Maine
Timed-entry for cars on the Cadillac Summit Road
When: 24th May to 22nd October 2024.
More info:

Shutterstock Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

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