In the past couple of years, the National Park Service has seen big and small changes to our national park system. And, in 2022, from an increased reliance on reservations to the introduction of timed-entry permits and fee increases, visitors to national parks can expect to see even more changes than before.
Here's a look at some national park updates visitors can expect to see this year.
Timed-Entry Permits and Reservations
Back in 2020, Rocky Mountain National Park was the first national park to implement a timed-entry permit. It was a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and was supposed to be a temporary way to manage visitation. However, in 2021, Rocky Mountain National Park again brought back reservations for timed-entry permits, and they're sticking with them again in 2022. Which other national parks require reservations?
Yosemite and Glacier National Parks introduced timed-entry permit systems in 2021, and like Rocky Mountain National Park, they're using them again. The success of these programs has led other national parks to try them as well. Arches National Park is introducing timed-entry permits in 2022, as are Zion National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Acadia National Park, and Hawaii's Haleakala National Park.
It should be noted that the scope of timed-entry permits varies from park to park.
For instance, Glacier National Park used timed-entry permits last year for the Going to the Sun Road and will continue them for GTS in 2022 from late May through mid-September, adding them for visits to the North Fork. Meanwhile, Zion started requiring timed-entry permits in 2022 for hikers who want to make use of the Angels Landing Trail from April 1st, while Arches National Park's timed-entry permits will apply to all day-use visitors between April 3rd and October 3rd.
If you're planning an RV road trip to any of these national parks this year, they usually allow you to make timed-entry permit NPS reservations several months out, so jump on their websites and reserve a spot now.
Reservations for Camping
Of particular relevance for RV travelers is the fact that more national parks are doing away with first-come, first-served campgrounds in 2022. Which national parks require reservations for camping? Grand Teton National Park has completely done away with first-come, first-served camping, with all spots requiring online reservations.
Some national parks require reservations only for certain campgrounds, while others can be expected to follow Grand Teton's example and require reservations for all sites. Plan ahead of time, and check if your preferred campground requires NPS reservations before you head out.
Look Out for Price Increases in 2022
Visitors to Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore never previously had to pay an entry fee, but that's changing in 2022. And, per person, overnight backcountry fees for Grand Canyon National Park are going up from $8 to $12 (in addition to a $10 backcountry permit) from July 1st, 2022. Rocky Mountain National Park's single-vehicle entry fees will go up by $5 in late May, rising from $25 to $30, while Rocky Mountain's overnight winter camping fees will go up from $20 to $30 in October.
If visiting a park introducing timed-entry permits, these also often come with fees; for example, timed-entry permits are "free" at most or all parks, but all actually come with an unavoidable $2 online service charge. Meanwhile, Acadia National Park in Maine is introducing timed-entry permits for the Cadillac Summit Road at $6 per vehicle.
It's not all bad news: The National Park System has designated five fee-free days for 2022 (January 17th, April 16th, August 4th, September 24th, and November 11th), so take advantage if you can!
Be Mindful of Nature-Preserving Measures
Due to concerns about the effects of climate change, along with exponentially-increased use of national parks by the public in the past year, many national parks are taking increased measures or continuing policies to preserve their environments. You can consider the aforementioned timed-entry permits and fee increases as part of these measures, but there are other things national parks are doing as well.
More trails will likely have signs warning hikers away from venturing off-trail to protect flora and fauna. Some campgrounds might be closed for renovations, while especially in the West, prescribed fires (a.k.a. controlled burns) in places where forest or wildfires are common in summer. It's all a part of ensuring these parks' natural resources will still be around for future generations to enjoy.
Visit National Parks in 2022 With Cruise America
Now that you're in on the latest national park updates, put that knowledge to good use with a road trip. No RV? No problem! Cruise America has RVs for rent or sale that can get you to wherever you want to go. Before you make any NPS reservations, visit Cruise America to reserve your RV rental first! Get in touch with Cruise America now!