Arches National Park schedules public meetings on traffic congestion, crowding

Cars line the parking lot of Devils Garden on a busy weekend morning. Photo Courtesy: National Park Service

MOAB, Utah, Aug. 25, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The National Park Service on Wednesday scheduled meetings to hear from the public as it works to address vehicular congestion and explores ways of providing efficient visitor access to Arches National Park.

“Since 2019, the National Park Service has led several data collection efforts to inform management of congestion and crowding within the park,” said a news release from the NPS. “These public meetings will be an opportunity to share findings from those efforts as well as discuss ongoing studies.” Park leadership will also share possible regionally-driven, collaborative approaches to addressing traffic congestion and crowding at the park including a timed-entry pilot program for spring 2022.

“Arches National Park is part of the Moab community, not separate from it,” said Arches National Park Superintendent Patricia Trap. “I am committed to working with the community collaboratively to find solutions that promote quality visitor experiences and address congestion in a thoughtful way. We want the local community and our stakeholders to have a seat at the table throughout the planning process — especially should we pilot a reservation system for the park.”

The public meetings will be held virtually here from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. MDT on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. MDT on Friday, Sept. 10.

The NPS invites the public to participate by joining the public meeting and by providing their comments via the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment website. Those interested in commenting may access the park’s information page on this project here and provide comments online. The comment period will run from Sept. 6 to Oct. 5.

From 2009 to 2019, visitation to Arches National Park grew over 66%, from 996,312 to 1,659,702. “Visitation is expected to remain high throughout the summer and fall, and continue an upward trend in future years,” the news release said.

“Overcrowding has required the park’s entrance to shut over 120 times this summer as parking lots reach capacity. Long lines to enter the park lead to congestion at the highway intersection, which can be a serious traffic hazard. Separately, access for Emergency Medical Services and road maintenance services are also impacted by high visitation. The NPS is also concerned about the possibility of damage to sensitive resources along trails, such as wildlife, plants and other living things the park was created to protect.”

For more information, please visit the Arches National Park website here.


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