National Parks & Ticketed Entries
Outdoor recreation patterns have changed dramatically since the start of the pandemic. It has altered the way people interact with nature, and the importance of being outside has made its way to the top of many people’s priorities list. As human traffic (and the subsequent impacts this brings) continues to rise at unprecedented levels within our park system, National and State Parks are working diligently trying to find that delicate balance between “access for all” and protecting the environment against irreparable ecological damage.
One of the ways to help control this increased visitation to our parks has been to regulate vehicle traffic in some of the most congested areas in our busiest national parks. There are many popular sites that people love to visit year after year. With this overflow of love from visitors, the lands and attractions are obviously impacted in a variety of ways. For instance, with the popularity of Angels Landing, a popular hike in Zion National Park in Utah, the National Park Service initiated a ticketed lottery system to control the flow of human foot traffic.
Beginning April 1,2022 all hikers going to Angels Landing will be required to have a permit. There are three ways to obtain your permit for Angels Landing. The first way is to enter a lottery system, where you enter seven dates and times that you are hoping to hike; then, hope for the best. The second way to get a permit is to apply for the day-before lottery. So, if you intend to hike on a Wednesday, you will need to visit recreation.gov between 12:01 AM and 3 PM MST on Tuesday, the day before. Your permits will then be issued by 4 PM on that Tuesday. All permits are $6 and are good for a group of up to six individuals.
To find out more about Zion’s ticketed entry system be sure to visit their website here:
Like Zion, Glacier National Park in Montana has had to regulate vehicle traffic along the world-famous Going To The Sun Road; the only vehicle route that traverses the park. After 2020, when National Parks around the country saw record breaking attendance, many parks had to rethink how to accommodate the many new visitors to their parks. In 2021, Glacier initiated their ticketed entry system for the GTTSR.
Visit Glacier National Parks website to learn more about how to secure your pass for the Going to The Sun Road!
Most recently, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has proposed a new, park-wide parking fee starting in 2023. Currently, the park is taking public input for this new concept. As the country's most visited park with over 14 million annual visitors, the Great Smoky Mountains see a lot of vehicle and foot traffic. In the park’s conception, it was agreed that the park would remain free to the public. This was due partially to the fact that a main highway ran through the park connecting North Carolina and Tennessee. The new park fee for GSMNP would be $5 per day, $15 per week or $40 annually.
For more information about the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and their proposed parking fee visit their website here:
It’s always a good idea to know before you go, so stay informed and find your park! Happy trails!