Many of the popular National Parks in the American West require reservations for lodging, camping, backpacking, and other activities often months in advance. We suggest you consider which parks you wish to visit and make reservations long before your trip! (Click on any of these links below for more information.)
Reservations are strongly recommended for lodging, car camping on the rims, backcountry camping (overnight hiking) within the canyon, hiking with an overnight stay at the Phantom Ranch, mule trips, and raft trips. The North Rim has only one lodge and one campground. The South Rim has several motels and lodges and two reservable campgrounds, with additional facilities close by just outside the park.Additional information and links:
- Grand Canyon Lodging. Includes both rims and nearby areas.
- Grand Canyon Camping. Developed campgrounds, includes both rims and nearby areas.
- Backcountry Permits (NPS). Hiking with overnight stays within the park. Not required if staying at Phantom Ranch or a developed campground on the rim.
- Phantom Ranch. Cabins and bunkhouses at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Meals are also available, and require reservations. Mule riders have a cabin included with their trip.
- Overnight Mule Trips. Includes meals and accommodations at Phantom Ranch. Height and weight restrictions for riders. Reservations essential well in advance.
- Rafting Trips:
- Guided (Commercial) Raft Trips through the Canyon. Many vendors offer trips from 3 to 18 days. Reservations a year or more in advance are advisable.
- Private (Noncommercial) Raft Trips through the Canyon. One of the hardest permits to get, with waiting period of years. A weighted lottery system gives you a reasonable chance of getting a permit eventually.
- Glen Canyon Raft Trips. Full (row) or half-day (motorized) trips on smooth water. Originates in Page, Arizona, north of Grand Canyon. Excellent, easy option with very similar scenery.
- Grand Canyon West – Hualapai River Runners. One-day trips in far west section of Grand Canyon. Includes some white water and a helicopter ride out.
Reservations are strongly recommended and essential for many activities. The park is extremely popular, and its proximity to the Bay Area and San Francisco make it easily accessible to many people. Most of the lodging and the most highly desirable developed camping is in Yosemite Valley, centrally located and site of the park’s most iconic attractions. Camping and lodging outside of the park are rather distant and not very convenient.Additional information and links: Lodging:
- Lodging, Camping, Backcountry Camping, and Food in Yosemite (NPS).
- Yosemite Lodging and Reservations:
- Yosemite Valley: The Majestic Yosemite Hotel – formerly Ahwahnee (exclusive 4-star hotel), Yosemite Valley Lodge – formerly Lodge at the Falls (full service hotel), Half Dome – formerly Curry – Village (motel rooms, cabins, tent cabins), Housekeeping Camp (rustic camping-style cabins)
- Big Trees Lodge – formerly Wawona Hotel – historic hotel at south end of park near Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.
- Tioga Road, crossing the High Sierra: White Wolf and Tuolumne Meadows (tent cabins and rustic cabins)
- High Sierra Camps – Five historic camps roughly evenly spaced along a loop trail through Yosemite’s most spectacular high country. Rustic cabins, dinner and breakfasts included. Boxed lunches are extra. The camps are accessible only by trail (foot or horseback). Allows high country hikers to travel with far less gear. Reservations are by lottery. You must submit an application in the fall of the previous year.
- Lodging Close to Yosemite National Park.
- Yosemite Campground and Campsite Information (NPS). Chart of all park campgrounds, map at bottom of the page, link to full detail page for every campground. Yosemite Valley reservable campgrounds are Upper Pines, Lower Pines, and North Pines. There are some first-come first-served campgrounds. However they fill up early in the morning from May through September and shouldn’t be counted on.
- Camping Reservation Process (NPS). A one-month block of reservations become available at 7AM on the 15th of the month, five months ahead of when you want to camp. The most desirable locations (like Yosemite Valley), May through September, often sell out in minutes.
- Make Camping Reservations at Yosemite (Recreation.gov). Online reservations for camping at Yosemite. If nothing is available, you may check for public campgrounds outside of the park. Adjacent Sierra National Forest has a number of campgrounds.
- Half Dome Hiking Reservations. The famous hike up Yosemite’s Half Dome must now be reserved. Due to high demand, a lottery is being used to award permits. Read the directions on this page carefully.
- Backpacking in Yosemite (NPS). Discussion and links for backpacking, including trail descriptions.
- Wilderness Permits (NPS). How to plan your trip before submitting a reservation for a permit.
- Wilderness Permit Reservations (NPS). How to make the actual reservation for a permit. You can always find a place to backpack at Yosemite without a reservation. However permit limits are in place on all the popular trailheads in season. Reservations can be made up to 24 weeks in advance, indicating the high demand for permits.
- Yosemite Tours and Guided Activities. A concessionaire offers a variety of guided tours and suggests that in the summer you make reservations upon your arrival at the park. The more elaborate tours such as Glacier Point or the Grand Tour should be made in advance if possible (before you come to the park).
The parks feature the world’s largest trees and some of the finest of California’s High Sierra. Due to its proximity to Southern California, weekends and holidays tend to be especially crowded. The parks are also convenient for visitors to Yosemite National Park. Reservations for the park’s limited lodging are always advisable, and for camping in the Giant Forest area on weekends.Additional information and links:
- Lodging Inside Sequoia and Kings Canyon (NPS). Descriptions of all park lodging and links for reservations. The modern Wuksachi Lodge is close to the Giant Forest in Sequoia; the three smaller, older lodges service the King’s Canyon area.
- Lodging Close to Sequoia and Kings Canyon (NPS). Lists motels and lodges within 20 miles of the parks. Includes phone numbers and links
- Camping Inside and Near Sequoia and Kings Canyon (NPS). Descriptions of all developed campgrounds and list of alternative campgrounds just outside the park. Camping is first-come first-served inside the park except for the Lodgepole and Dorst Campgrounds in the popular Giant Forest area. (Reservations are also available for additional selected group sites.)
- Make Camping Reservations for Sequoia and Kings Canyon (Recreation.gov).
- Overnight Backpacking in Sequoia and Kings Canyon (NPS). General guide with a variety of links for more detail. Links to the official Wilderness Trip Planner
- Wilderness Permits & Reservations for Sequoia and Kings Canyon (NPS). Hiking with overnight stays within the park. From May to September, quotas are in effect based on the starting trailhead for your trip. About three quarters of the permits are reservable. Download the reservation form.
- Crystal Cave Tours. Crystal Cave is a popular attraction at Sequoia National Park, with a variety of easy daily tours on trails. The Adventure Tour, 4-6 hours of very strenuous off-trail caving, is offered during the summer and is wildly popular. Reservations are mandatory.
The Far View Lodge is the only in-park lodging, and reservations are advised. The Morefield Campground has plentiful campsites but only 15 full hookup sites for which reservations are required. (Fill out the “Check Rates & Availability” form to find out which campsites are available for your visit.)
There is no lodging within this park. However there is plentiful lodging in Estes Park, just outside the park entrance. Camping on the east side of the park is always in high demand due to the proximity to Boulder and Denver, Colorado. Therefore reservations are strongly advised, especially on summer weekends.Additional information and links:
- Developed Campgrounds (NPS). Descriptions of all park campgrounds, open/close dates, links to campground maps, and information for reservations.
- Online Camping Reservations. Make reservations for east-side campgrounds.
- Backcountry Wilderness Camping Guide (NPS). Guide to backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain. Includes trip planning, rules, permits, and reservations. Permits are issued based on designated campsites, each of which allow a certain number of parties per site.
- Longs Peak – Keyhole Route (NPS). Guide to the famous hike/climb to the top of Longs Peak. The developed Longs Peak Campground (on CO-7, tents only, first-come first-served) is closest to the Longs Peak Trailhead (where it is recommended that you start at 3am for a one-day ascent and return). For those wishing to do the ascent in two days by staying at the Boulderfield backcountry campsite (#44), a reservation is strongly advised.
This remote park features spectacular mountain scenery often compared to the Swiss Alps. Lodging within the park is rather limited, and reservations are strongly advised for July and August visits. Backpacking is extremely popular here, and permit reservations are available. The famous backcountry chalets, Granite Park and Sperry, are exceedingly popular and require reservations well in advance.Additional information and links:
- Glacier National Park Travel Guide The Glacier National Park Travel Guide is a resource for those planning to tour Glacier National Park and/or Canada’s adjacent Waterton Lakes National Park. The adjacent national parks are typically visited at the same time and offer a variety of experiences. Both parks offer outstanding opportunities to view wildlife.
- Lodging in and around Glacier National Park. Descriptions of all park lodging, nearby lodging, and links for reservations. Includes the famous “railroad” lodges. Also, includes information for adjacent Waterton Lakes National Park (including the Prince of Wales Hotel).
- Granite Park Chalet and Sperry Chalet. These famous chalets are in the backcountry of Glacier National Park and are accessible only by trail (hiking or horseback). Sperry is more like a hotel with private rooms and served meals. Granite Park is more of a hostel-like shelter and has a kitchen for backpackers to cook their own food. Reservations open the previous fall for the next summer.
- Campgrounds in and around Glacier National Park. Descriptions of all developed campgrounds and list of alternative campgrounds just outside the park. Also, includes information for adjacent Waterton Lakes National Park. Most camping is first-come first-served inside the parks except reservations may be made for St. Mary and Fish Creek in Glacier National Park, as well as Waterton Townsite Campground.
There is no lodging within this park. However there is plentiful lodging in nearby Moab, Utah. The park’s Devils Garden Campground is extremely difficult to get into, and reservations are very strongly advised. All campsites at Devils Garden are by reservation only between March 1st and October 31st. For alternatives, download the Moab Area Campground Map (PDF file) showing all the public campgrounds around Moab. There are also many private RV parks and campgrounds in Moab.
There is no lodging within this park. However there is plentiful lodging in nearby Moab, Utah. The park’s limited developed camping is first-come first served (except for group camping). An early arrival is necessary to try for a site in the popular Squaw Flat Campground in the Needles. For alternatives, see the area campground map. There are also many private RV parks and campgrounds in Moab.
However Backcountry Permits (section includes reservation directions) are required. Reservations are strongly recommended for traveling the famous White Rim Road or spring backpacking in the Needles District.
The monument features some of the most exotic scenery in the American West. Due to the extremely fragile nature of this wilderness, access to Paria Canyon and the Wave is extremely limited, and permits are very difficult to obtain. For an introduction to the area, see our Trail Guide for Paria Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, Coyote Buttes, and the Wave.Additional information and links:
- The Wave and Coyote Buttes (North and South). Access to each unit, north and south, is limited to 20 individuals per day by permit. Half are allocated four months in advance by online lottery. The other half are allocated to walk-ins, available 48 hours in advance by lottery at the local BLM office. The Wave is located in Coyote Buttes North, and a permit to visit it is extremely difficult to obtain, any time of year.
- Paria Canyon and Buckskin Gulch. Permits are required for overnight camping and must be obtained in advance They are available online two months in advance. (For example, you can apply for permits anytime in April on or after February 1.)
- The Zion Lodge is the only in-park lodging, and reservations are advised.
- There are three campgrounds in Zion National Park. The large Watchman Campground has many RV sites with electric hookups as well as many tent-only sites – Reservations are accepted.
- Zion Narrows (complete guide). The through hike (top-to-bottom) of the famous Zion Narrows requires a permit and reservations (day trip or overnight) are strongly advised.
- The hike to the famous Subway requires a permit and reservations are essential.
Though adjacent to Yellowstone, Grand Teton gets substantially less visitation pressure. Reservations for lodging during the main summer season are still strongly advised. There is plentiful lodging in and around Jackson, Wyoming just south of the park. Developed camping is first-come first-served.Additional information and links:
- Grand Teton Lodging. Descriptions of all park lodging, links for reservations, and links for alternative lodging just outside the park including Jackson, Wyoming.
- Grand Teton Camping. Descriptions of all developed campgrounds and alternative campgrounds just outside the park. Camping is first-come first-served inside the park. (Reservations are available for selected group sites.) The large Colter Bay and Gros Ventre campgrounds almost always have sites.
- Outdoor Activities in Grand Teton National Park. A wide variety of organized outdoor activities are available at the park. These include: backpacking, boat rentals, climbing guides, cross country skiing, snowshoe tours, fishing trips, Snake River float trips (scenic, wildlife, and white water), horseback riding, kayaking tours, marinas, Jenny Lake shuttle, sailboating, scenic cruises.
Reservations far in advance are strongly recommended for lodging, especially within the park (At least a year in advance for peak summer logding). Last minute reservations are pretty hard to find. The most convenient alternatives to the park are in the town of West Yellowstone, Montana. Five of the park’s twelve campgrounds take reservations. However the first-come, first-served campgrounds tend to be free-for-alls in the summer, generally filling up in the early mornings.Additional information and links:
- Yellowstone Lodging. Descriptions of all park lodging, links for reservations, and links for alternative lodging just outside the park.
- Yellowstone Camping. Descriptions of all developed campgrounds, links for reservations, and alternative campgrounds just outside the park.
- Recreational Activities at Yellowstone National Park. There are various guided activities within the park for which you should make reservations when you arrive, or in advance if your time is limited.
- Backpacking and Backcountry Permits. Hiking with overnight stays within the park. Due to the park’s large size, it is almost always possible to get a permit without reservations. However the park does place limits on popular trails, and there is a reservation system for permits.