Explained: 2023 National Park Reservation System - Native Campervans

Explained: 2023 National Park Reservation System

National Park Reservation System - Zion Campervan

It’s time to start gearing up for your 2023 camper van road trip. For those of you that haven’t started trip planning yet, then you might not know that many of the popular national parks are requiring reservations this year.

Before you set off on the road this year, make sure to have all your reservations squared away for the best trip possible. We want you to get into the National Park of your dreams so purchasing a minimal-cost ticket and planning will ensure that.

To help all travelers hit the road, our team has put together a comprehensive guideline for the national park reservation system.


Why National Parks are Requiring Reservations?

In 2020 and 2021, national parks around the US saw an unprecedented number of visitors. 2021 alone had a recorded 297 million visits, which was an increase of 60 million in 2020. After months stuck indoors, Americans set out to look at something different than the four walls of their home.

The increase in visitors at national parks resulted in hour-long lines, no parking, overcrowded trails, lack of campsites, and a less than enjoyable experience for many park-goers.

To manage visitor demand, and give national park travelers the experience, solitude, and communing with nature they expect when visiting a national park; The National Park Service, The Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management had to do something. Reservation systems were their answer.

While reservation systems seem inconvenient to many travelers, they are necessary to preserve the experience visitors have when visiting a national park and preserve the park’s natural beauty itself. There are measures that must be put in place to protect the park’s features when recreation numbers increase so dramatically. This way generations of people can continue to visit. You’ll want to enter the reservation system straightaway – the reservation system is a mix of day-use reservations and timed-entry tickets. The reservation system is undeniably an essential national park preservation tool.

All it takes is a little planning, and you’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy any national park you want to! If you’re an off-season visitor, you may not have to worry about reservation systems at all!


How to Book a Reservation

Arches National Park
Credit: @vanlife.sagas

The real question is: how exactly do you book a National park through the reservation system? Surprisingly, it’s pretty simple actually.

  1. Head to recreation.gov
  2. Search the National Park
  3. Navigate to the day-use/timed entry tickets
  4. Press book now and enter in your desired date to see what is available
  5. Select your desired time entry
  6. Repeat!

The most important thing to know about the reservation system is that each park has a time release for ticket entries. If you’re planning to go during the high season or summer months, you’ll want to make sure you’re on your desired parks recreation.gov bright and early.

Native Campervan Tip: Set alarms for 10 to 30 minutes before the booking time opens.


National Parks Requiring Reservations

National Parks in a Campervan
Credit: @lukewebstr

We’ve put together a list of our favorite national parks that have implemented reservation systems.

 Zion National Park

Do you know Zion NP is only 2.5 hours from our Las Vegas Rental Office? Reserve your camper van today and hit up Zion NP!

Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road

Arches National Park

Check it out: 3 Days in Moab | Campervan Style

Rocky Mountain National Park

Everything you need to know about Rocky Mountain National Park

Acadia National Park

Haleakala National Park


These are just the National Parks we know are going to have a reservation system this year. Another thing, these things are subject to change and other national parks may jump on the bandwagon depending on visitor numbers. You should always do research as far in advance as possible before your trip. Happy traveling!

Still, have questions about comparing campervan and RV rental prices? Drop us a line and we’d be happy to help. If you’ve already chosen a campervan over an RV, explore our vans page for more advice on deciding which campervan to rent.

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