Arches National Park Packed to Capacity With New Entry System

by Lauren Boisvert
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(Image Credit: Cavan Images/Getty Images)

Arches National Park in Utah has reverted back to its first come first served method of park entrance, and visitors should expect long wait times and crowded parking lots as a result. Currently, visitors are experiencing traffic backups at the entrance lasting upwards of 5 hours.

Previously, the park was utilizing timed entry tickets, but did away with that system for the time being last week. It’s possibly they could go back to that system during the busy season or utilize a different system.

Arches National Park updated their website to reflect the new system, writing, “Parking lots at trailheads may fill before 9 am, causing the park to temporarily restrict access until congestion lessens. Periods of restricted access can last 3-5 hours.”

On Friday, Oct. 7, the park reached capacity at 8:25 am, the earliest so far. Around 12:30 pm, the park opened for more visitors when the congestion had lessened. Currently, Arches is heading into its peak fall season, and recommends visitors arrive between 6 and 7 am or 3 and 4 pm.

Arches National Park Does Away With Timed Entry Tickets

Back in April, Arches National Park implemented their timed ticketed entry system, hoping to ease park entrance and avoid crowding in parking lots and at trailheads. Just last week, the park reverted back to their old system of an entrance free-for-all, letting in the first wave of visitors until the park reaches capacity.

The ticketed system did help ease some of the crowding, but park analysts speculate that it could also have contributed to low visitation this year. Arches saw a 15% dip in visitation from July to Augusts, and while visitation is low at other parks as well, Arches wants similar numbers this year to the 1.8 million visitors they had in 2021. But, not all the data has been analyzed from the past few months. There’s really no telling what the data will reveal about the ticketed system as yet.

There’s a chance that the ticketed system may be implemented again in the future, especially as the park moves into peak season. Park analysts could also implement a different system altogether. Additionally, park officials will speak with Utah residents about their experiences and consider visitor feedback as well.

Arches Sees Massive Wait Times at Entrance, Monday’s Holiday is Partially to Blame

On Monday, Oct. 10, Arches National Park was full to bursting with visitors. The park had to close its doors for a few hours, turning people away at the entrance and posting on social media that they should “Consider visiting nearby attractions” instead. Wait times soared to 5 hours at the most, and the holiday on Monday is partially to blame for those massive crowds.

Monday was Indigenous Peoples Day as well as Columbus Day. Many banks, post offices, and city government offices were closed, and people flocked to the National Parks to enjoy the October air in the great outdoors. For Arches, this caused backups and crowding.

Will Arches go back to their timed ticketing system? Possibly, and possibly not. The park will analyze the data from the past few months and make a decision then.

Outsider.com