Reservation System Proposed at Arches National Park

More people are visiting Arches National Park every year, and the park superintendent is proposing a reservation system during the busy season to ensure they don’t have to turn people away. But the idea is fiercely opposed by the business community in nearby Moab, Utah, who rely on tourists and fear the system would be confusing and lead to fewer impromptu visits.

The issue flared up again Memorial Day weekend when the state highway patrol closed the park entrance because of overcrowding and dangerous traffic conditions.

Visits to Arches and nearby Canyonlands national parks rose 20 percent last year and will likely surpass 1.5 million this year, said Kate Cannon, the parks’ superintendent. That’s up from 1 million five years ago. Cannon is proposing a reservation system for visitors to avoid having to turn people away during the busiest time of year.

“I would say that level of visitation is beyond our current capacity,” she said. “We would give visitors certainty so they would know before they got here that they would get into Arches National Park.”

The park is already getting ready to start charging higher fees in the busy season from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in hopes of spreading out the crowd, Cannon said.

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