Yosemite National Park unveils when reservations will be required in 2024

Yosemite National Park is known for its giant sequoias and was one of the first wilderness areas that was federally protected. A popular attraction is Horsetail Fall that glows as if it is on fire in February. The National Park Service estimated more than 3.6 million visitors entered the park in 2023.

MARIPOSA, Calif. – One of the most well-known parks in the country is reinstituting reservation requirements in 2024 in an effort to stem traffic during peak periods and improve visitors’ experiences.

The National Park Service recently released the 2024 dates that take place during the winter, spring, summer and fall when reservations will be required to drive into the park of nearly 750,000 acres.

The reservation system originally launched in pilot form in 2020 and was used during several seasons following the Covid-19 pandemic both in the California park and several NPS sites around the country.

For most of 2023 in Yosemite, reservations were not required, but rangers said they took public and community feedback in determining operations for the upcoming year.


When reservations will be required:

  • February 10 - 25: On Saturdays, Sundays and on Washington's Birthday (Monday, February 19)
  • April 13 - June 30: From 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and on holidays
  • July 1 - August 16: 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily 
  • August 17 - October 27: 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and on holidays

"We strongly support the return of Yosemite’s reservation system in 2024, particularly following a summer where no limitations at park gates led to frequent hours’ long traffic jams, Valley closures, and untold damage to natural and cultural resources," Mark Rose, a program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement. "Visitors to Yosemite, especially those from underrepresented communities, deserve a positive experience, not gridlock traffic. Beyond 2024, we urge the Park Service to move once and for all towards a permanent reservation system."

Reservations will revolve around two popular events at the park - Horsetail Fall’s ‘firefall’ in the winter and the peak visit season in the summer.

In February, hundreds visit the park to take a photo of a naturally flowing fall that appears to resemble molten lava.

The water never changes state, but the angle of the Sun’s rays illuminate the runoff so that it appears bright orange.

Visitor traffic generally falls during the early spring, only to pick up again during the late spring and summer, as people seek the warmer weather to catch a glimpse of the ancient sequoia trees and the granite cliffs.


In 2023, August was the most popular month for visitors, with nearly 600,000 people, which caused scenes of gridlock and long lines.

"Yosemite, along with Arches, Glacier, and Zion are among the parks that charted a new course over the last several years with visitor management systems," Cassidy Jones, a Senior visitation program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement. "Reservations for our busiest parks offer visitors an experience to match their expectations. Visitors come to parks to feel the invigorating mist of Yosemite’s waterfalls not the stress of circling parking lots. Across the country, we applaud the Park Service for adapting for current and future visitors’ needs and urge them to make these systems permanent."

The NPS said it expects reservations to go quickly and will be available starting on January 5 at Recreation.gov.