Frequently Asked Questions
What has the National Park Service already done to manage traffic congestion in Arches National Park?
- Increased the total number of parking spaces in the park by 91 percent since 1989 including doubling parking capacity at Delicate Arch and Sand Dune Arch trailheads, and significantly increasing the number of parking spaces at Devils Garden and The Windows trailheads.
- Implemented a temporary entrance bypass lane for pass-holders during busy hours.
- Stationed parking lot attendants in key parking areas throughout the busy season to direct traffic, improve parking efficiency, report on conditions to guide incoming visitors, and provide assistance and information to visitors.
- Upgraded roadside pullouts and increased their number to relieve some pressure from key parking areas.
- Installed an additional park entrance lane in June 2017, and the Utah Division of Transportation installed a traffic light at the intersection of US Highway 191 and the park entrance road in January 2017.
- Developed a messaging system including: a park radio station, social media, webpages, webcams showing entrance road conditions, and targeted messaging to local businesses and area visitors through the Moab Area Travel Council website and mailings.
- Trained local tourism sector employees, in collaboration with the Moab Information Center, Moab Tourism Council and the Moab Chamber of Commerce, to suggest less crowded locations to visit.
Were any other ideas considered to deal with traffic congestion in Arches National Park?
Yes, some of the ideas considered and rejected include:
- Shuttles In 2011, Arches National Park contracted a study to examine the feasibility of a shuttle-bus system as a solution to parking congestion. The study, completed in 2012, made it clear that it would be cost-prohibitive to implement a shuttle system that could adequately solve the congestion problem.
- A “one-in-one-out” system Under this method, once the park was full, cars would only be allowed to enter when another car departed the park. This idea was rejected because it would exacerbate problems like long entrance lines and unsafe traffic congestion at the highway intersection. Also, this system would not provide visitors any predictability in terms of access to the park.
- Building a second park entrance at the northern end of Arches This would require upgrading miles of existing dirt roads across Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and NPS lands. It was rejected because it would be inconsistent with the park’s current General Management Plan, and it would not resolve the most pressing traffic congestion problems, which are in the parking areas rather than on the roads themselves.
What else is the National Park Service doing to address traffic congestion in the park?
The National Park Service has prepared a Traffic Congestion Management Plan Environmental Assessment for Arches National Park to address much needed traffic and parking congestion problems. The draft plan is available for a 30-day public comment period (see last page of this document for details).
How will the Traffic Congestion Management Plan change the conditions in the park?
The Traffic Congestion Management Plan proposes a reservation system for entrance during peak visitation season and peak visitation hours. The Plan will improve visitor access, safety, and enjoyment of the park by:
- reducing or eliminating long lines at the park entrance
- spreading visitation out more evenly across the day
- improving the overall visitor experience by giving them certainty of entry and ensuring they can find parking as needed while they tour the park.
I want to visit Canyonlands National Park, too. Do I need to make a reservation there?
No, the Traffic Congestion Management Plan is only for Arches National Park. The National Park Service is not currently proposing a reservation system for entrance at Canyonlands National Park. Visitation at Canyonlands has also increased dramatically in recent years, and if that trend continues, a separate planning effort may be needed to address traffic congestion there as well.
How would the reservation system work?
To use the reservation system, park visitors would reserve an entry time online or by phone prior to their arrival during the peak visitation season (currently March-October, but may shift if visitation patterns change). This system would give visitors certainty of entry, reduce/eliminate long entrance lines, spread visitation more evenly across the day, and improve the visitor experience by ensuring available parking space.
Visitors entering before 7 am or after 6 pm, or visitors entering the park at any time between November and February, would not need to make a reservation. If the Traffic Congestion Management Plan is approved, full implementation would occur no earlier than 2019, with reservations required for entry beginning Spring 2019. Online booking would begin six months prior to the date reservations would be required. Commercial users of the park, including tour buses, would not be subject to the reservation system. Their access would continue to be managed separately, through their Commercial Use Authorizations.
What if I don’t have a reservation to enter the park when I arrive?
The Plan calls for a certain number (25 percent of the total supply) of reservations to be available on a day-before/day-of basis. Visitors arriving at the park without reservations may check on-line or at one or more locations in the town of Moab to make reservations for any available time slots.
How many vehicles will be allowed into the park each day?
A total of 2,006 vehicle reservations will be made available each day between 7 am and 6 pm during the reservation season. This number is above the median daily vehicle entrances for that season (1,950 in 2016). You will not need a reservation to enter the park between 6 pm and 7 am or any time November through February.
I have reservations for the campground and a Fiery Furnace tour already. Do I need to make a reservation to enter the park, too?
Visitors with reservations for Devils Garden Campground or a Fiery Furnace tour can enter at any time, and will not need to make a separate entrance reservation.
If I have a reservation for, say, a 9 am to 12 pm time period, do I have to be at the park 9 am?
No, you can enter the park any time within the reserved time period.
How long can I stay in the park once I’ve entered?
You may stay in the park as long as you like once you have entered.
I'm coming on a commercial tour. Will the guide company make my reservation to enter the park or do I need to do that?
Clients arriving in a commercial guide vehicle will not need to make a reservation to enter the park. Clients meeting their guide in the park will be required to have a reservation to enter the park in their own vehicle. Commercial park entrances will be managed through each company's Commercial Use Authorization.
Do bicycles need reservations too?
Only motorized vehicles will need reservations to enter the park. Visitors who bicycle or walk into the park will not.
How can I participate in the planning process?
The park hosted an Open House on November 16, 2017, in Moab, Utah. You can review the Environmental Assessment (EA) online: