The newly implemented timed entry program piloted by Arches National Park over the summer, introduced with hopes of curbing unprecedented overcrowding, has officially come to a close.
Beginning on Oct. 4, 2022, the park will no longer be requiring visitors to obtain reservations and will return to a traditional first come, first serve format. Park officials ask that visitors come prepared for waiting periods of up to 3-5 hours at the gates while they analyze data gathered from the timed entry program.
“With the conclusion of the timed entry pilot, we would like to extend our gratitude to visitors, local community members and park partners for their support of this program,” said Arches Superintendent Patricia Trap. “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.”
The data gathered from the program will be used to inform further policies regarding park entry and whether or not timed entry is a viable solution to the issues presented from overcrowding. The park will hold subsequent discussions with partners and stakeholders and plans to announce further management strategies in the fall of 2023.
Though patterns of decreased park visitation have been seen, Arches officials expect the coming months to be busy. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and to arrive early in the morning or in the afternoon to avoid peak crowding hours.
As concerns over the sustainability of national park crowding continue to mount across the country, reservation systems may become more common. In April 2022, Zion National Park officially began requiring permits for those planning on hiking the iconic and overrun Angels Landing, and other historically crowded parks such as Yosemite and Glacier have also experimented with timed entry systems of their own.
Traditional entrance passes will still be required to enter Arches following the close of the timed entry period.
Story by: Jared Clawson
Photo courtesy of Ken Cheung on Unsplash