National Park Timed Entries and Lotteries 2022/2023

[This blog post will be continuously updated with new information. Last Updated Mar 2, 2022]

As more and more national parks institute timed entries, reservations and lotteries, planning your national park trip requires more advance planning than ever. I have yet to see all this information in one place, which inspired me to do it! To compile it, I visited each national park website in addition to relying on my own experience visiting 29 of the 63 parks. I’ve also linked up the relevant Recreation.gov site for tickets. If I’ve missed anything, please let me know!

Angel’s Landing at Zion is the latest hike to become permitted starting April 3, 2022. Overcrowding here has been drawing criticism for a long time due to the treacherous chain section

I’ve split the information into five parts:

  1. Parks that require lotteries or timed entries for either the entire park or its most popular activities
  2. Parks with popular lodging that requires lottery, waitlist or competitive advance reservation
  3. Parks that require special transportation due to their locations
  4. Parks with impacts/closures due to COVID
  5. Parks with other special considerations before you visit

Park: Acadia
What: sunrise at Cadillac Mountain
When: mid-May to mid-Oct
Reserve: 90 days in advance for 30% of the capacity; 10 am 2 days ahead for the remaining 70% https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/400000

Park: Arches
What: timed entry for the entire park
When: April 3 to Oct 3, 2022
Reserve: each month opens 3 months in advance, so April opens Jan 3, May opens Feb 1 and so on https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10088426

Park: Arches
What: Fiery Furnace tours
When: always
Reserve: 7 to 2 days in advance. Currently self guided, not ranger-lead. Info at https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/fiery-furnace-permit.htm; tickets at https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/234668/ticket/10087108

Park: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
What: Inner Canyon wilderness
When: always
Reserve: in person, at the South Rim visitor center and North Rim ranger station
https://www.nps.gov/blca/planyourvisit/innercanyon.htm

Park: Carlsbad Caverns
What: Caverns
When: temporary due to COVID
Reserve: 30 days before the date desired https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/234637/ticket/10086811

Park: Congaree
What: 2022 Synchronous Fireflies Viewing Event (see also Great Smoky Mountains)
When: May/June
Reserve: timed entry via lottery expected (similar to 2021) – see website for latest info https://www.nps.gov/cong/fireflies.htm

Park: Crater Lake
What: boat tours of the lake
When: TBD; Boat tours did not operate in 2020 or 2021.
Reserve: TBD for 2022 – see website for latest info https://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/boat-and-trolley-tours.htm

Park: Gateway Arch
What: tram ride to the top of the arch
When: always
Reserve: typically 30 days before the date desired https://www.gatewayarch.com/#

Park: Glacier
What: Going-to-the-Sun road and Polebridge Ranger Station (2 separate tickets)
When: May 27 to Sept 11, 2022
Reserve: A portion of tickets are released on a rolling basis for up to 120 days in advance of travel date starting Mar 2, 2022. The remaining availability will be released the day before the travel date. https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/gtsrticketedentry.htm

Park: Great Smoky Mountains
What: 2022 Synchronous Fireflies Viewing Event
When: exact dates TBD but in 2021 they were June 1-8, 2021
Reserve: lottery for vehicle passes opens on April 29, 2022 at 8 AM EST at https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/233374. It closes on May 2, 2022 at 8 PM EST and lottery winners will be notified on May 12. More info: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm

Park: Great Basin
What: Lehman Cave tours
When: always
Reserve: up to 30 days in advance https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/251853

Park: Haleakala
What: sunrise at the top
When: every day if entering between 3 am and 7 am
Reserve: up to 60 days in advance; if inventory left, 2 days in advance at 7 am HST https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/253731

Park: Kenai Fjords
What: boat tours of the fjords
When: reservations recommended but not required
Reserve: https://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/boattours.htm

Park: Mammoth Cave
What: Cave tours
When: reservations recommended but not required
Reserve: up to 6 months in advance https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/234640

Park: Mesa Verde
What: Cliff dwellings (ranger-lead)
When: dwellings open May to Oct, reservations recommended but not required;
Reserve: available up to 14 days in advance https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/233362

Park: Rocky Mountain
What: timed entry for the entire park
When: May 27 – Oct 10, 2022
Reserve: Starting May 2 at 10 am MDT, then on the 1st of the month at 10 am to reserve up to 2 months in advance. This is for 70-75% of all slots. The remaining 25-30% will be available at 5 pm the day prior. https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10086910

Park: Shenandoah
What: Old Rag Mountain
When: March 1 – Nov 30, 2022
Reserve: 10 am 30 days in advance for 50% of the inventory (400 slots), then 5 days in advance for the remaining 50% at https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/10088450/ticket/10088451. More info here.

Park: Wind Cave
What: Cave tours
When: always
Reserve: first come, first serve in person on the day of the tour; they sell out quickly

Park: Yosemite
What: timed entry for the entire park
When: TBD but it in 2021 it was in place May 21 – Oct 31
Reserve: TBA but in 2021, it opened on April 21, 2021 at 8 am PT for arrivals May 21st through June 30th, then each week a new month was available. https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10086745

Park: Yosemite
What: Half Dome permits
When: usually Friday before Memorial day to second Monday in October
Reserve: pre-season lottery March 1 – 31; then starting May 25, daily lottery 2 days in advance of hike https://www.recreation.gov/permits/234652

Park: Zion
What: Angel’s Landing
When: April 1 2022 to Feb 28, 2023
Reserve: pilot permit lottery runs Jan 3-20 for the months of April and May. Then, the lottery will run from the 1st to the 20th of the month for hiking the in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th month after that.
https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/angels-landing-hiking-permits.htm

Park: Grand Canyon
What: Phantom Ranch lottery
When: always
Reserve: enter online lottery 15 months in advance from the 1st to the 25th of the month. Drawing takes places in the 14th month before the visit. Unsold or unclaimed inventory opens to the general public on the 13th month prior to the stay month
https://secure.phantomranchlottery.com/phantom-ranch-lottery

Park: Katmai
What: Brooks Lodge lottery
When: June- September every year
Reserve: enter lottery Dec 1 – 31, 2022 for visits in summer 2024. Lottery closes on Dec 31 at 5 pm AST. https://katmailand.com/brooks-lodge-lottery/

Park: Katmai
What: Brooks Camp Campground reservations (not a lottery but they do go fast)
When: May 1 – Oct 31, 2022
Reserve: starting Jan 5, 2022, 8 am AKST (9 am PST, 12 pm EST) at https://www.recreation.gov/permits/249991

Park: North Cascades
What: Ross Lake Resort waitlist
When: May – Oct
Reserve: Join the waitlist now: https://www.rosslakeresort.com/stay

Park: Sequoia
What: Bear Paw High Sierra Camp
When: Closed for 2022; usually open mid-June to mid-September
Reserve: 366 days in advance https://www.visitsequoia.com/lodging/bearpaw-camp

Parks that require special transportation due to their locations
Parks with COVID-related impacts or closures

The following parks are epxeriencing modifications/closures due to COVID. Please check the official park website for latest info.

  • American Samoa – must spend 14 days in Hawaii and acquire health clearance 3 days before entry into American Samoa
  • Badlands – the south unit of the park is closed in accordance with Oglala Sioux Tribe ordinances
  • Everglades – some concession-operated tours and services have modifications in place
  • Carlsbad Caverns – timed reservations temporarily required for self-guided tours, see popular activities section
  • Gates of the Arctic – due to Anaktuvuk Pass travel restrictions and COVID-19 cases in the community, no recreational access into the village is allowed at this time
  • Glacier – as we draw closer to summer, check park website to see if there is a COVID closure on the Blackfeet nation, impacting access to the east side of the park
  • Grand Canyon – dormitories at Phantom Ranch are currently closed, only cabins are available. No date for reopening as of yet
  • Hot Springs – The Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center is closed until further notice
  • Kobuk Valley – Northwest Arctic Heritage Center Closed
Parks with other special considerations before you visit
  • Big Bend – valid (unexpired) passport required to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico at the Boquillas Crossing
Most unique border crossing – with a row boat over the Rio Grande at Boquillas Crossing in Big Bend National Park

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