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Following two years of unprecedented growth in visitation and occasional closures due to crowding, Arches National Park announced on Friday that it will implement a timed-entry system beginning in spring 2022.
In a release, the park said that the new pilot program would begin on April 3 and run through October 3. Reservations will become available in monthly blocks, 3 months in advance, with the first block of reservations opening to the public on January 3. As with most parks utilizing the time-entry system, tickets will allow access to the park during a 1-hour window, with visitors able to leave and reenter the park on the same day once their tickets are validated. Visitors with camping permits, backcountry permits, or Fiery Furnace permits will not need a separate reservation.
“By implementing a temporary, timed entry reservation system, our goal is to better spread visitation throughout the day to reduce traffic congestion and visitor crowding,” said Arches National Park Superintendent Patricia Trap in the release. “We believe this will create a higher-quality experience while maximizing access for our visitors. Additionally, we will use data gathered from this pilot to adapt and improve this system throughout the season, as well as to inform our future responses going forward.”
Like many other national parks, visitation to Arches has soared over the past decade, rising 66 percent between 2009 and 2019 to a total of 1.6 million visitors per year. Those crowds have led to headaches for tourists and staff alike at the mostly frontcountry unit, with entry lines often stretching for hours. The congestion has led the park to periodically close its gates after reaching capacity. Arches scrapped a similar plan to implement a timed reservation system in 2019.