Devils Garden in Arches N.P. closed for construction
by Lisa J. Church
Staff Writer
Jun 19, 2014 | 1794 views | 0 0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Road crews prepare to begin milling and repaving the parking lot at Devils Garden on Monday, June 16. Photo by Lisa J. Church
Road crews prepare to begin milling and repaving the parking lot at Devils Garden on Monday, June 16. Photo by Lisa J. Church
slideshow
Visitors to Arches National Park over the next week may find parking scarce and traffic congestion worse than usual. They also will be unable to experience one of the park’s main attractions – Devils Garden.

Crews began work on Monday, June 16 on a major renovation at the Devils Garden Loop Road and trailhead and both are expected to be closed through June 26, according to Kate Cannon, superintendent of Arches.

The Devils Garden parking area accounts for 20 percent of the overall parking in the park, so park staff will also be monitoring the number of vehicles entering the park, and, if necessary, will temporarily restrict access to avoid overcrowding, Cannon said.

“That’s something we’re really hoping we won’t have to do, but we will take that step if necessary to protect park resources,” she said.

Parking regulations will be “strictly enforced,” Cannon said. To help with that, park employees and volunteers are stationed at the parking lots throughout the park, both to answer visitors’ questions and to prevent illegal parking.

Park Service employees, along with the Moab Area Travel Council and local businesses, are also working to get out the word about the closure and encourage people to visit other scenic areas instead, such as Island in the Sky and the Needles districts of Canyonlands National Park.

As part of the renovation, the Devils Garden parking lot will be reconfigured to add 45 new spaces, which will increase parking by 40 percent, according to figures provided by Sabrina Henry, an environmental protection specialist with the National Park Service’s Southeast Utah Group. Devils Garden will have 155 parking spaces once the work is done, up from the 110 parking spaces previously available.

Parallel parking will be replaced with pull-in parking spaces, and additional spaces are being added for handicapped parking and RVs, Cannon said. New restrooms and a new sidewalk were added to Devils Garden during a construction project last fall.

A turnaround loop has been added to the south end of the Devils Garden Loop Road to allow drivers to safely circle the area when looking for parking. The previous road design forced drivers to make a 3-point turn, which often blocked traffic and presented a safety hazard, according to park officials.

“People sometimes have to circle the parking lot several times before they find a parking space,” Cannon said. “The turnaround road is designed to improve safety.”

Visitation at Arches has grown steadily over the past several years, leading to problems with traffic congestion and inadequate parking, Cannon said. As a result, drivers often park along the sides of the main park road and other entrance roads to features such as the Windows and Delicate Arch, damaging the land, she said.

On Sunday, May 25, Arches hit an all-time record for visitation as 2,751 vehicles streamed into the park.

“We have a heightened concern about crowding in the park, given the record visitation in May,” Cannon said.

For those who do choose to visit Arches, park officials recommend coming to the park prior to 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m.

“We appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience as we continue our efforts to protect park resources while improving park facilities for visitors,” Cannon said in a news release last week.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.