The human spirit yearns to get outdoors. As the weather gets nicer and nicer, more and more of us are heading into the great outdoors. If you are planning a trip to a national park this summer, you should plan ahead.
We always think it’s important to plan for any trip to the parks. To have a great visit, you need to know the rules of what you can bring, where to park and what gear you might want to bring along. Whether you’re going for a hike, walk, camp or picnic, you’ll need things to have a great time, and planning can be part of the fun — you take a mental vacation before the real one.
But, this year, you also need to know what the pandemic rules are. Many parks have changed their policies because of COVID-19. And some are using a reservation system. After so many of us were stuck inside last year, the parks have been seeing huge swells in visitors. Everyone wants to visit our nation’s gorgeous parklands. To avoid traffic jams, you might need to make a reservation.
Some places, like Arcadia National Park in Maine, don’t require a reservation to enter. But, if you want to drive up Cadillac Mountain, you will need to reserve your spot. The mountain gives you a front-row view of the sunrise before anywhere else in the continental U.S. You can bike or hike up the mountain without a reservation. If you would like to drive up the mountain, you can make your reservation here.
Rocky Mountain National Park is trying to stop people from being shoulder to shoulder by keeping its parking lots at only 75-85 percent full. They are doing that with timed entry tickets. They are hoping to give everyone more space to move. You can select a time to visit Bear Lake Road Corridor between the hours 5 am to 6 pm or the rest of the park from 9 am to 3 pm. You have to plan ahead and arrive close to your reservation time: you have a two-hour entry time or lose your spot. You can make a reservation here.
Glacier National Park is requiring reservations to drive the beautiful Going-to-the-Sun Road. Along the journey, you’ll see waterfalls, sheep and breathtaking views. The 50-mile road takes two hours to drive — if you don’t pull off to one of the lookout points! If you have lodging, campground, boating, horseback riding or some other time of reservation within the park, you can drive the road without a reservation. Get your reservation here.
Parts of Zion will be open without reservations. But, $1 tickets to the shuttle that take people to the harder-to-access views of the park will be available by reservation only. You can check the park’s website for availability. The shuttle will be socially distanced. With your ticket, you’ll have access to the shuttle all day.
Yosemite is planning on requiring reservations for visitors just to keep the paths quiet. While you won’t need a reservation if you have booked a hotel or Airbnb inside the park, there will be an entry fee.
If you are lucky enough to be visiting Haleakala National Park on Maui this summer, you will need a reservation to drive to the top of the dormant volcano to watch the sunrise from 10,000 feet. Reservations are only required between 3 am and 7 am when people are preparing to watch the sunrise. After that, the park is open to all. But, visitors have to pay $30 to enter.
The national parks give us all an incredible opportunity to see things that we would never witness in our own neighborhoods. But, this year especially, you have to prepare for your trip. Make sure you are all squared away before hitting the road. Visit the park’s website and check that you have any reservations or special gear you might need to enjoy your trip!