Hello fellow national park enthusiasts! I posted this last week but have added a few clarifications.
I’d like to bring to your attention a big change to the confusing entry requirements for Glacier National Park and Yosemite National Park starting this year.
National parks usually require some type of entrance fee unless you have an annual pass or a senior pass (i.e., America the Beautiful pass; there are a few other types of passes with which you might be familiar). This is still required at Glacier and Yosemite.
Starting this year—May 6 for Glacier and May 21 for Yosemite—through September 2021, both parks are requiring an additional entry reservation ticket.
LET ME REPEAT. To get into Glacier and Yosemite National Parks this summer (and most likely all future summers), you will need a park pass (or pay an entrance fee when you arrive) AND a reservation (with an entry reservation ticket in hand or on phone).
This is most likely a result of the increasingly high volume of visitors national parks are experiencing, and it will not surprise me if other parks follow suit in the future. So keep a look out for this, and do your research well in advance.
A FEW NOTES AND EXCEPTIONS
- Ticketed entry reservations are $2.00 per vehicle/motorcycle, and they must be reserved in advance.
- If you are lucky enough to get one, at Glacier it will be good for 7 consecutive days. At Yosemite, it will be good for 3 consecutive days.
- Reservations cannot be made at the gate. They need to be made in advance by either calling or by purchasing them through Recreation.gov.
- There are a limited number of reservations available—Glacier has 435 tickets available for each day; Yosemite has at least 562 available for each day. Because we plan to go to Glacier this summer, we have discovered that those tickets go SUPER FAST (see below for more details). For Yosemite, Recreation.gov has a schedule for when tickets become available. As I was writing this (May 2, 2021), tickets were available from May 21 through July 31.
UPDATE: At Glacier, the ticketed entry reservation is needed to enter between 6:00am and 5:00pm each day. If you enter before 6:00am or after 5:00pm, you only need the park pass (i.e., annual pass, senior pass, America the Beautiful pass, or the entrance fee). At Yosemite, the entry reservation is needed to enter between 5:00am and 11:00pm.
For either park, you will need to set up a free account at Recreation.gov. Once you do that, search for “ticketed entry” on that site, and both Glacier and Yosemite will appear.
For Glacier specifically, you will see the following:
When you click on BOOK NOW, you will go to the next page (see below), and select the date and type and number of vehicles.
HERE’S THE CATCH: Glacier makes available 435 tickets each morning at 8:00am MDT for ONE day sixty days into the future. As an example, on May 1 at 8:00am MDT, I logged into my account at Recreation.gov, went to the ticketed entry reservation page for Glacier (“Going-to-the-Sun Road Entry Ticket”), and selected June 30 and 1 auto. It showed how many tickets were still available for that day, and I clicked “Add to Cart.” Of course, it didn’t go through, so I refreshed the screen and started again, seeing the number of available tickets dwindling before my eyes. I kept refreshing the screen, trying to order one, until they were all gone for that day. My order never went through, and I had to begin again the next morning for the next available day.
THERE ARE WORK AROUNDS!
Glacier and Yosemite both have “work arounds” (my term) to having a ticketed entry reservation, so check the websites (links provided below) to see what these are. At Glacier, for example, if you have a campsite or lodge reservation within the park, or if you have booked an excursion or tour in the park, a ticketed entry reservation is not needed. Just double check with the company through which you book a tour!
We ended up booking a boat tour on St. Mary’s Lake at Glacier NP through a company called Glacier Park Boat Company. It clearly stated on their website that our receipt could be used in lieu of the high-demand $2.00 ticket.
UPDATE: If you book some type of tour or excursion for Glacier National Park, the confirmation letter/receipt can be used in lieu of the entry reservation ticket FOR THAT DAY ONLY. If you are staying outside of the park and want to enter on multiple days, you will need to have a ticketed entry reservation OR you will need to enter before 6:00am or after 5:00pm.
You can call Recreation.gov to make your reservation, but it will come from the same pool of 435 (for Glacier) or 562+ (for Yosemite). And you will most likely get a busy signal. Your best bet is to order through Recreation.gov. Better yet, if you have another human traveling companion (or an extremely smart pet! Haha!), each of you can create an account at Recreation.gov and simultaneously try each morning to get one of these tickets.
ANOTHER INTERESTING DETAIL: For Glacier, two days before any given day during the busy season, Recreation.gov will release 145 additional tickets for reservations. Again, at 8:00am MDT, and they will most likely get snapped up fast.
To get more detailed information straight from NPS.gov and Recreation.gov, please visit and read the following links thoroughly:
Reservations at Glacier National Park and Yosemite National Park ARE REQUIRED this summer. You will need
- A park pass (or pay the entrance fee when you arrive)
- A $2.00 entry reservation ticket OR a reservation of some other kind in the park
I hope this blog has been helpful. If I left anything out, please let me know. Enjoy your travels!