You’ve heard the phrase “We’re loving our parks to death,” and it’s true. Arches National Park will be the latest to combat this trend.
“We’re not trying to limit visitation, we’re just trying distribute it,” says Arches National Park spokesperson Kait Thomas. Her park is seeing the same critical overcrowding as the Smokies, Yellowstone, and many others as visitors continue to flock to our national parks in a time when indoor activities are still a touchy proposition.
But Arches specifically has been experiencing an upward trend even before the pandemic. According to the Associated Press, Arches National Park has seen an unbelievable 66% increase over the last decade. Still, 2021 would top all previous years with a record 1.7 million visitors as of October’s end, Thomas says.
To combat this, the NPS has closed gates of entry “for hours” in order to prevent overcrowding. Even overcrowding, however, isn’t the worst symptom of America’s newfound love for our national parks. It’s what said overcrowding does to our national parks.
Utah’s Arches is famous for the thrilling, brilliantly unique sandstone arches for which the park is named. Too many curious visitors clamoring over one another, though, leads to destruction of natural wonders. No one wants to visit a park that’s to-the-gills with people, sure. But if the NPS sits by and lets swaths of tourists essentially mow down the lands we’re working so hard to preserve, then no one at all will be able to enjoy them before long.
Thankfully, Arches National Park isn’t idling and allowing this scenario to take place. The fix? Timed entry tickets.
Arches National Park to Implement ‘Timed Entry Tickets’
Arches will be the second Utah park to implement timed entry tickets for visitors (following Zion National Park). Such reservations will only be necessary between April and October of 2022, however, not the entire year. This is, as many NPS lovers know, the busiest season for our parks.
If you plan to visit Arches National Park during peak season in 2022, you’ll need a timed entry ticket for any visitation from 6 AM to 5 PM park time. If you’re visiting outside April or October, no ticket will be necessary at any time.
In doing so, the purpose isn’t decrease visitation or deter tourists. Instead, Arches hopes to spread out visitors over the course of a day. This will both protect the park and give visitors a far better experience. It sounds cumbersome, but it should lead to a far more enjoyable experience for all.
A maximum of 2,700 vehicles per day will be granted tickets for Arches National Park for 2022’s peak season. To book a reservation, which are first-come, first-served, visit recreation.gov. Tickets are available as lates as the day before a visit.