End of timed entry experience at Arches

The temporary timed entry program at Arches National Park will end on October 4th. Reservations will no longer be required to enter the park, but will the timed entry system return? NPS officials say data collected through the program, which began in April, and meetings with stakeholders will inform next year’s plan. The 2023 congestion management strategy is expected to be announced in the coming months.

The timed entry reservation system is the National Park Service’s attempt to address overcrowding in Arches National Park. From 2009 to 2019, attendance at Les Arches increased by more than 66%. In 2021, the park broke its attendance record with more than 1.8 million visitors.

With such high visitor numbers, parking lots at trailheads were overflowing and the line to enter the park sometimes backed up on Highway 191. Park officials began closing entrance gates when parking lots internal have reached their capacity. During some months of heavy traffic, the gates were closed for hours and visitors who showed up at the wrong time were turned away.

For years, officials have been urged to try a timed-entry system similar to other national parks like Yosemite, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Acadia. There was also fierce opposition from some business stakeholders. In 2021, the Moab City Council and Greater County Commission called for a timed entry system, while the same year the United States Travel Association argued that reservation systems made it difficult for international travelers to visit.

“With the conclusion of the Timed Entry Pilot Project, we would like to express our gratitude to visitors, local community members and park partners for their support of this program,” said Arches Superintendent Patricia Trap. , in a press release. “The pilot achieved many of the goals we set out to achieve, including spreading visits throughout the day and improving the visitor experience, and it provided data that will inform our next steps.”

NPS officials warn that with the end of the timed entry program, visitors could once again face increased traffic, crowds and 3-5 hour delays at the entrance gate.

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