The pilot program will apply to visits from April 3 to Oct. 3, 2022.
Advertisement

With more than 2,000 stone arches and hundreds of pinnacles, the stunning natural landscape of Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, has long enchanted visitors — and its popularity has been on an exponential rise. With 996,312 visitors in 2009 growing to 1,659,702 in 2019 (and still 1,238,083 during the 2020 pandemic year), the nearly 66% growth has started having a detrimental effect on both public safety and park resources. So, on Friday, the National Park Service (NPS) announced a pilot program to test timed entries into the park next year.

For admission from April 3 to Oct. 3, 2022, visitors will need to book a one-hour time slot (between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.) on Recreation.gov during which they will enter the park. Once inside, they can stay for as long as they'd like. They'll have in-and-out privileges on that day as well, as long as the ticket is properly validated.

"By implementing a temporary, timed entry reservation system, our goal is to better spread visitation throughout the day to reduce traffic congestion and visitor crowding," Arches National Park superintendent Patricia Trap said in a release. "We believe this will create a higher-quality experience while maximizing access for our visitors." She added that they'll be using data from this period to make adjustments, and assess how to move forward.

Hiking to North Window in Arches National PArk
Credit: Courtesy of NPS/Chris Wonderly

The first block of entry tickets from April 3 through 30 will open on Jan. 3, 2022, at 8 a.m. local time. The park will continue to release spots three months in advance in one-month blocks. (May reservations will open on Feb. 1, June on March 1, July on April 1, August on May 1, September on June 1, and October on July 1.)

Those who are unable to snag a spot will have the chance to get a limited number of reservations that will be available starting at 6 p.m. local time the day prior to their visit (bookings must be made online or by calling Recreation.gov). For those with certain permits (camping, backcountry, Fiery Furnace, and special use, for example) or concession contracts or commercial use authorizations, timed entry reservations won't be required.

Each day, 2,700 vehicles will be allowed in, which is approximately the average number that would enter on a busy day in 2019, the Associated Press reported. The busiest times of year for the park are the spring through fall from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to its site.

"The park expects timed entry reservations to provide visitors with a more reliable and enjoyable experience while protecting the park's extraordinary landscape," the NPS said in a statement.

Earlier last week, Zion National Park also announced a reservation system for its popular Angels Landing trail.