Will You Need A Timed Entry Reservation Pass To Enter National Parks?
Over the past year, a lot of what we took to be normal changed. Things that we may have taken for granted – like easily accessible national parks and RV parks – were closed or deeply restricted.
Luckily, we are now seeing campgrounds, RV sites, and national parks begin to open up yet again for all of us to enjoy. These amenities are not resistant to change and have been affected by the pandemic restrictions just like the rest of us.
In light of recent events, there is talk that in the near future RVers will need a timed entry reservation to enter national parks. This might make a big change for some campers. A last-minute trip may no longer be possible.
Let’s take a look at what a timed entry pass is. We will also look at if most national parks require them.
What is a Timed Entry Pass?
Timed entry passes are time slots you can arrive in to meet your reservation – in this case, at the national parks. These time zones provide a way to spread out the flow of incoming traffic.
A timed entry pass would mean that on your ticket you are designated a time period of when you are allowed to check-in. This ticket only works during your time period. This means if you come too early or too late you won’t be allowed to enter.
After the recent pandemic and activities starting to now open back up, many businesses are integrating protocols to allocate each visitor with an arrival time. This helps to avoid clustering in too large of a group. Timed entry passes are an efficient way to make sure the flow of traffic is steady throughout the day. It also offers organization to the employees of the parks.
Have National Parks done this before?
Campers have never before had restrictions on windows of when they could arrive at the national parks.
RVing is commonly a free-flowing activity and everyone tends to approach it differently. Some of us arrive early in the day to watch the sunrise on that epic hike. Some of us sleep in and arrive as we please.
Are national parks planning on doing it?
Things are now changing to force the process to be smoother and more ordered.
Some parks have already integrated timed entry reservation passes for their campers, RVers, and anybody else welcomed in. With these parks trying it out, others may integrate it after seeing how the results turn out.
With restrictions on capacity, allowing everybody to check-in at once and congregate around a reservation area was putting too much stress on the parks to ensure that they follow health guidelines. If they don’t follow these guidelines they face severe consequences that could result in even more backtracking and possibly park closures.
For the summer 2021 reservations, some national parks have already begun giving out reservation passes explaining to patrons that the arrival time is firm. This means that as you book a reservation you must also select a time period in which you plan on arriving and leaving the park.
So far, national parks are reporting that it has helped create a flowing influx of visitors and lessened the number of congregations at the check-in areas.
How will timed entry change the National Park experience for you?
You may be wondering if these timed entries are going to have an effect on your RVing life or how you visit national parks. The truth is, it might.
If the majority of national parks make it necessary for everybody to have a timed reservation to enter and exit the park, it will be a small effort added on while you’re booking your reservation. While the process is simple, you may find yourself refreshing the reservation page repeatedly trying to get a time slot.
Timed entry will cause you to plan a little more ahead when it comes to arriving at the national parks – “Plan Like a Park Ranger“. Since you have to arrive within a designated window, you’ll have to make sure to pad your travel time and arrive on time.
In all, it does seem likely that timed-entry reservation passes will tend to become more and more common. Some national parks have already integrated this into their booking system and are requiring everybody to check-in within their designated time frame.
If you frequently visit national parks, make sure you check out their booking procedures so you don’t miss out on any new updates. Also, note that parks may quickly (and without notice) change their policies. Always check the national park website for the most up-to-date information!
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