As part of its long term transportation planning effort, the park intends to manage traffic congestion by reducing the number of automobiles within the park while maintaining and improving public access. This action is supported by the park’s Transportation Implementation Plan and Environmental Assessment (2006), and Executive Order 13514 on Federal Leadership In Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance (2009), which requires agencies to measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions toward agency-defined targets including a 30% reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020.
Since 2004 to 2012, park visitation increased from 733,131 to 1,070,577, with more than a 35% increase in park visitors over 5 years. From 2004-2009 there was an increase of 100,000 cars annually, 36% more cars than documented in the 2006 Transportation Study. Arches also averages around 2,000 commercial bus tours a year with the busiest seasons from May through October. With this increase of visitation the park has seen an increase of parking issues that are no longer associated with holidays or weekends or other special occasions. Parking congestion is now the norm from mid-March through early November.
These parking issues along with the issue of decreased air quality related to tailpipe emissions have prompted the National Park Service (NPS) to begin looking at alternative transportation methods and other congestion management strategies. In August 2011, the NPS hired a consultant team, the Louis Berger Group, Inc., Nelson Nygaard, and Rhodeside and Harwell, to conduct a feasibility study to look at shuttle and non-shuttle opportunities within Arches National Park. The completed feasibility study is available for download below.
Transportation Newsletter (May 2012)
Finding of No Significant Impact