Public Presentation October 15, 2019

 
Park produced report titled Foundation Document Arches National Park" with a red sandstone arch.

On October 15, 2019 the National Park Service hosted a public meeting in Moab, UT, to discuss visitor experiences at Arches National Park. NPS presented information regarding ongoing studies to better understand our visitors’ experience, transportation opportunities, and traffic patterns and dynamics. This web page provides the information that was presented during the public meeting.

Park purpose

“The purpose of Arches National Park is to protect extraordinary examples of geologic features…as well as other features of geologic, historic, and scientific interest, and to provide opportunities to experience these resources and their associated values in their majestic natural settings.”

What problems are occurring?

  • In the last 11 years, visitation to the park grew more than 90 percent. (Learn more about the effects of growing visitation)
  • The growth in visitation—particularly during the peak season and peak periods of the day—resulted in:
    • Long wait times at the entrance station,
    • Parking congestion, and
    • Crowding at key attraction sites.
  • Conditions affect safety and the ability to provide quality visitor experiences.
 
Graph of month on the vs # of visitors. Lines represent 2013-2018, Start low in Jan, rise during Mar. They peak until Aug, then drop in Oct. By Dec they are almost at bottom of the graph with a peak at end of the year.
Daily vehicle entrances at Arches National Park for 5 years 2013-2018. Month is shown on the x-axis and number of visitors along the y-axis.  Horizontal red line around 1800 vehicles/day shows the threshold for filled parking lots.  March through October is peak visitation between 9am and 2pm coinciding with increased congestion issues.

NPS

 

What is the status of the Traffic Congestion Management Plan/Environmental Assessment (EA)?

The NPS released a Traffic Congestion Management Plan/Environmental Assessment (EA) in 2017 (learn more about the 2017 plan). Based on the feedback the park received, we have now canceled that EA. The park has determined that additional information and analysis are needed. We are stepping back to reconsider all options for managing congestion in the park. It is important to note that the park remains committed to solving congestion challenges and to do so as collaboratively as possible. As we start to collect more data and formulate long-term solutions the park aims to better understand our visitor experience, transportation alternatives, and traffic patterns and dynamics.

In the meantime, the park is actively taking interim steps to address congestion issues now including:

  • Establishing a parking lot attendant program
  • Using radio advertisements and flyers to let visitors know what to expect and ask them to enter the park during non-peak hours
  • Posting on social media
  • Monitoring entrance lanes and parking lots to balance the number of cars entering the park versus the number of cars leaving
  • Exploring opportunities to collaborate with the city and county
 
A circle with four parts surrounds a gray center.  Caption says "Planning framework." Read from upper left quadrant clockwise. 1. Why. 2. What. 3. How. 4. Do. Center: Universal to the framework: law, agency policy, sliding scale, public involvement.
Interagency Visitor Use Management Council Planning Framework.

What's next?

The National Park Service has charted a path forward. The next steps the park intends to take are:

  • Collect more data on traffic conditions, wait times, and hourly parking lot occupancy
  • Develop studies to understand visitor use and experience on specific roads, in parking lots, on trails, and at sites
  • Gather information on technical and financial feasibility of a secondary entrance and how that would affect traffic flow
  • Initiate a feasibility study of a mandatory shuttle system
  • Participate in active and frequent civic engagement

Once these steps are taken, the park will develop a new proposal and strategies to move forward. We will then initiate a new National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for public comment and feedback.

Last updated: November 20, 2019

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 907
Moab , UT 84532

Phone:

435 719-2299

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