“Arches For The People” Proposes Solution to Arches National Park’s Congestion Woes

  A group opposed to seeing a reservation system instituted for Arches National Park is pushing a somewhat novel solution: park your car outside the park. Not only would the plan solve the congestion problem at Arches but, its proponents believe, it will create “the first fully sustainable, noise free, and zero emissions national park by 2030.”

That’s quite a pitch, one that envisions a massive parking lot on a former uranium tailings dump transformed into “Basecamp Moab,” and self-driving electric vehicles that today are no more than a vision.

“This involves thinking outside of the geographic area of the park and involves public-public-private partnerships,” Michael Liss tells me while laying out the vision being carried to the National Park Service by “Arches For The People. “We are now doing all the groundwork to put a 2,000-car parking lot and visitors center across the street from Arches National Park, a half-mile south on (U.S.) 191 from the Arches entrance at the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action DOE site. Once we can get everyone parked, we can then offer multiple ways to enter Arches.”

While some national parks are grappling with human crowds, at Arches in southeastern Utah the problem is vehicular crowds. With a very limited road system, built around the 18-mile-long main road, traffic can quickly slow to a crawl during the spring, summer, and fall seasons at the park’s main attractions, such as Delicate Arch, the Windows Section, and Devils Garden.

To unwind that congestion, Arches staff has been developing a Traffic Congestion Management Plan to address vehicle traffic and parking congestion problems that they say affect visitor access, visitor enjoyment, and resource conditions.

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