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Visitors Have Been Waiting Up to 5 Hours to Get Into Arches National Park

Timed entry may be over for the year, but so many people have visited this week that the park has been reaching capacity by 8:30 or earlier.

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Think the end of timed entry for the year means that you’ll have an easier time getting into your favorite national park? That’s not the case at Arches National Park, where long lines have left visitors waiting, sometimes for hours, since October 4.

High crowd levels and congested parking lots have led to long entry lines and delayed entries, sometimes beginning as early as 8:25 a.m. 

Starting October 4, the park no longer required a timed-entry pass. The experimental program, which began April 3, was meant to help the park service assess visitor use patterns and manage them more efficiently in the future. When the program ended, Arches warned guests of long wait times or delayed entries, and the prophecy has been fulfilled. 

This fall, park representatives will meet with partners and stakeholders to see if timed entries are a viable solution to congestion management. In the coming months after these decisions, the park will announce whether it will continue with them in 2023. 

“The pilot met many of the goals we set out to achieve, including distributing visitation throughout the day and improving visitor experiences, and it provided data that will inform our next steps,” said Arches Superintendent Patricia Trap in a news release.

More than 1.5 million visitors flock to Arches every year, with surges between March and October. During these months, visitors can expect long wait times and completely full parking lots at popular trailheads, with limited spaces throughout the rest of the park. Arches’s website recommends that visitors find alternate activities in the area because of the very likely chance of restricted access during that time. 

The park also encourages guests to arrive early in the morning or in the late afternoon. At those times, the lighting is better for photography, the temperatures are cooler, and visitors often don’t have to fight so much for a parking spot or for solace on the trail.


From 2022