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, when visitation trends were last evaluated, park visitation has increased from 733,131 to 996,304 in 2009, more than a 35% increase in park visitors over 5 years. From 2004-2009 there has been 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.
In May 2012, this Feasibility Study was completed and it provides a detailed description of the final preferred Arches pilot shuttle system along with several congestion management strategies. The public is welcome to comment on these documents and can do so at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/arch. Just scroll down and click on Alternative Transportation Feasibility Study and Congestion Management Strategies.
Transportation Newsletter (May 2012)
Tranportation Implementation Plan & Environmental Assessment (September 2006)
Finding of No Significant Impact
Executive Order 13514
Did You Know?
Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal park ranger at Arches in the late 1950s. His 1968 memoir of this experience, "Desert Solitaire," has become a classic of desert literature.