The reservation system will be tested at Arches National Park next year

A visitor reservation system will be tested at Arches National Park next year.

In order to reduce congestion and assure visitors that they will be able to enter the park, Arches National Park will use a reservation system in 2022 to see if it fixes these issues.

Such a proposal was raised in 2017, when the park published a draft road congestion management plan. However, fears that it could cost the Moab area more than $ 22 million in lost economic spending prompted the National Park Service to consider several other options for handling the traffic. Among the options that park staff said they would consider were a shuttle system, which was previously deemed impractical, and a side entry route, which the Utah governor had suggested.

From now on, the park returns to the reservation option.

In recent years, the increase in visits to the park in Southeastern Utah has caused problems both navigating the park’s main road and finding parking inside the park, as well as on the entrance road when traffic was blocked to US 191. In severe cases, the Utah Highway Patrol forced the park to close its entrance until the traffic jams were resolved.

“By implementing a temporary and timed entry reservation system, our goal is to better distribute visits throughout the day in order to reduce traffic jams and visitor congestion. We believe this will create a better experience while maximizing access for our visitors, ”Arches Superintendent Patricia Trap said on Friday. “Additionally, we will use the data collected from this pilot to adapt and improve this system throughout the season, as well as to inform our future responses going forward. ”

The pilot will run from April 3 to October 3, 2022. Visitors can book reservations on a first come, first served basis on starting at 8:00 a.m. MST on January 3, 2022.

The park will release reservations three months in advance in monthly blocks. On January 3, reservations will open from April 3 to April 30. On February 1, reservations will open for the month of May and all remaining reservations that were not booked for April. The additional months will continue the same pattern according to the following schedule:

  • April reservations (April 3-30) are open on January 3.

  • May reservations (May 1 to May 31) are open on February 1.

  • June reservations (June 1 to 30) are open on March 1.

  • July reservations (July 1 to July 31) are open on April 1.

  • Reservations for the month of August (August 1 to August 31) are open on May 1.

  • September reservations (September 1 to 30) are open on June 1.

  • October reservations (October 1 to 3) are open on July 1.

After booking a reservation, visitors will receive a timed entry ticket. Timed entry tickets will be required to enter the park from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and will allow visitors to enter the park during a specified window of availability of one hour. Once entered, visitors can stay in the park for as long as they want for the rest of the day. Reservation holders can exit and re-enter the park on the same day with a properly validated ticket.

For those who have not booked in advance, a limited number of additional bookings will be available for purchase at 6 p.m. MDT the day before entry through Reservations must be purchased online or by calling before entering the park and will not be available at the park entrance. Timed entry reservations will not be required for holders of Camping Permits, Backcountry Permits, Fiery Furnace Permits, Special Use Permits, Concession Contracts or Commercial Use Authorization . All reservations should sell out quickly and visitors are encouraged to plan ahead.

From 2009 to 2019, annual visits to Arches increased by over 66%, from 996,312 to 1,659,702. This high level of visitor use creates congestion and congestion which can have a negative impact. on public safety, visitor experiences and park resources. The National Park Service met with the public in two virtual meetings in September to discuss potential solutions to these challenges and solicited comments on congestion management during a 30-day comment period. In addition, park leaders worked closely with the local community and other stakeholders in the implementation of this pilot project.

After analyzing visitation patterns and taking into account public and stakeholder comments, the National Park Service determined that a temporary temporary entry pilot could reduce vehicle congestion and visitor crowding by regulating traffic. proactively visiting the park. The park expects timed entry reservations to provide visitors with a more reliable and enjoyable experience while protecting the extraordinary landscape of the park. In addition, data collected during the duration of the pilot will help determine the viability of the planned entry as part of a longer term visitor access strategy.

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