Entrance Fees for 7 of the Most Popular National Parks in 2022

View from Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah.
evenfh / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Of the 423 sites within the National Park System, only 108 of them charge entrance fees, ranging from $5 to $35 for a vehicle, which includes all passengers inside. Camping, tours and shuttles have additional charges. To avoid the fees altogether, you can visit on one of the year’s remaining three free admission days: Aug. 4 (Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act), Sept. 24 (National Public Lands Day) and Nov. 11 (Veterans Day). 

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If you’re headed to one of these popular parks, though, be aware of crowds — many continue to see record-breaking numbers of visitors, growing more each year. To manage capacity issues, some are also requiring advance reservations and timed entries, including lotteries, so be sure to research your park destination before you go. 

If you plan to visit multiple parks over the course of a year, the America the Beautiful Pass may be the way to go, covering entrance fees for unlimited visits for $80, including access to 2,000 federal recreation areas. If that’s not the way you want to go, then check out the fees you can expect to pay at these popular national parks.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina, Tennessee) 

  • Visitors last year: 14 million
  • Entrance fees: Free — a federal law prohibiting tolls on the park’s primary roads prevents the park service from being able to charge fees.
  • More info: America’s most-visited park is a gem of Southern Appalachia straddling North Carolina and Tennessee. One of its biggest attractions comes yearly from late May to early June, when Photinus carolinus, a species of synchronously flashing fireflies, lights up the night forest. Entry to the park for these viewings is by lottery only.  

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Zion National Park (Utah)

  • Visitors last year: 5 million
  • Entrance fees: 
    • Per person: $20
    • Per vehicle: $35
    • Per motorcycle: $30
    • Park-specific annual pass: $70
  • More info: Hikers wanting to visit the popular but treacherous Angels Landing must also obtain a permit, available only through an online lottery. This 5.4-mile hike (round-trip) is not for the faint of heart (at least 13 people have reportedly died while hiking here) but is nonetheless highly coveted. 

Yellowstone National Park (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming) 

  • Visitors last year: 4.9 million
  • Entrance fees: 
    • Per person: $20
    • Per vehicle: $35
    • Per motorcycle: $30
    • Park-specific annual pass: $70
  • More info: Yellowstone was declared the world’s first National Park in 1872. It holds about half of the world’s active geysers and features its own “Grand Canyon” — the stunning Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
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Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) 

  • Visitors last year: 4.5 million
  • Entrance fees: 
    • Per person: $20
    • Per vehicle: $35
    • Per motorcycle: $30
    • Park-specific annual pass: $70
  • More info: The Grand Canyon, formed by the Colorado River over the course of 3 million-6 million years, is 277 miles long and 18 miles across at its widest points. Weather here can swing to extremes, with the most pleasant conditions between April and June, while July and August bring heat, rain and bigger crowds.

Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) 

  • Visitors last year: 4.4 million
  • Entrance fees: 
    • Per person: $20
    • Per vehicle: $35
    • Per motorcycle: $30
    • Park-specific annual pass: $70
  • More info: Elevations within the park range from below 8,000 feet to more than 14,000 above sea level. It’s also home to the highest continuously-paved roads in North America. Timed entry reservations are required between May 27 and Oct. 10, available at recreation.gov. If you’re visiting the park with a camping reservation, on a guided trip or with a commercial tour, you don’t need to reserve in advance. 

Acadia National Park (Maine) 

  • Visitors last year: 3.5 million
  • Entrance fees: 
    • Per person: $15
    • Per vehicle: $30
    • Per motorcycle: $25
    • Park-specific annual pass: $55
  • More info: Each year, the park welcomes peregrine falcons for their nesting season, during which certain trails and areas are closed to humans to protect the birds. Its rocky Atlantic coastline area encompasses 27 miles of historic driving roads, as well as 45 miles of rustic carriage roads, gifted by John D. Rockefeller Jr., which visitors can travel on horseback or carriage ride.
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Yosemite National Park (California) 

  • Visitors last year: 3 million
  • Entrance fees: 
    • Per person: $20
    • Per vehicle: $35
    • Per motorcycle: $30
    • Park-specific annual pass: $70
  • More info: Reservations are required to enter the park between the peak hours of 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily. Famous for its waterfalls, the best time to see them at their peak strength is in the spring when the winter snow is melting. 

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About the Author

Cody Bay is an award-winning writer, editor and media ace based in Seattle, WA. With a focus on social good storytelling and content strategy, she recently led the Microsoft News for Good initiative at MSN, creating content experiences to inform and empower readers to take action on the causes they care about. She has contributed to a wide variety of local and national publications, including Microsoft’s IT Showcase, The Seattle Times, Seattle magazine, The Travel Channel and the Puget Sound Business Journal, and was previously a multimedia editor at The Associate Press in New York.
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