Arches National Park to Stop Requiring Tickets for Entry

by Lauren Boisvert
(Image Credit: Franz Marc Frei/Getty Images)

Arches National Park is returning to its first-come-first-served method of letting visitors into the park, so expect long lines at the entrance again. This comes after a plan in April for ticketed and timed entry was put in place to potentially ease the process of entering the park and reduce capacity and congestion issues.

Arches saw record visitation in 2021: 1.8 million visitors flocked to the National Park last year. This created traffic backups and wait times of up to 4 hours for trail access. The park implemented the ticket-booking system to curb overcrowding. About 2,700 tickets were available to book at a staggered schedule. This was based on the number of cars that came through the park in 2019.

Though the program did help Arches achieve some of its reduction goals, it could have also contributed to low visitation this year. Though visitation decreased at other parks as well, and the data from the program has not been analyzed yet. There’s no telling what it’s going to reveal as of right now.

Visitation in August 2022 dropped 15 percent from July 2021, according to a report from the Salt Lake Tribune. Park spokesperson Kaitlyn Thomas said that there were “far more” tickets available than there were booked at that time.

Arches National Park Doing Away With Ticket Program for the Moment

Since the data still needs to be analyzed, park officials may implement the program again. They could also create a new one for Arches National Park’s busy fall season. In addition to analyzing the data, officials will speak with Utah locals and consider visitor feedback as well.

Thomas said that the park is considering permits for popular hikes along with the timed-entry program. In the meantime, though, visitors should come to Arches expecting 3- to 4-hour waits during busy times, possibly longer during the fall season. The park suggests arriving between 6 am to 7 am or 3 pm to 4 pm. Arches reminds visitors that trails and parking lots will most likely be crowded during peak hours, and to plan accordingly.

Best Things to Do in Arches: From Park Avenue to The Windows

If your looking for a top 10 list of things to do and see in Arches National Park, we’ve got you covered. If you plan your trip right, you can probably hit all ten. But, here are just a couple of our favorites to get you started.

First of all, the Park Avenue Trail is definitely worth exploring. Just 3.6 miles from the visitor center, this 1.8-mile paved trail brings you to a wonder of rock formations, most of them nicknamed by visitors. There’s Queen Nefertiti, Queen Victoria, and Sausage Rock, for instance.

Additionally, the Windows Section sets you up for glorious vistas, including the massive North Window. Here, gaze through the windows upon fantastic landscapes the likes of which you’ll never see anywhere else. North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch make up this section, and the trail is relatively easy walking.