National parks announce winter hours, 2017 fee free days
Jan 05, 2017 | 3376 views | 0 0 comments | 640 640 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Southeast Utah Group of the National Park Service (Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments) is joining national parks across the country in waiving entrance fees several days in 2017 as a way to encourage people to get outdoors and spend time with their friends and family in the national parks.

The National Park Service will waive the entrance fee on the following dates: Jan. 16, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; Feb. 20, Presidents’ Day; April 15-16 and April 22-23, the weekends for National Park Week; Aug. 25, in celebration of the National Park Service’s birthday; Sept. 30, which is National Public Lands Day; and Nov. 11-12, which is Veterans Day weekend.

Park visitors should remember the fee free designation applies to entrance fees only and does not affect fees for camping, reservations, tours or other special uses.

Visitors to the Southeast Utah Group of parks can enjoy a wide range of activities such as hiking, photography, scenic drives, and more rugged backcountry roads, visiting ancient cultural sites, and strolling along pathways that lead to whimsical rock formations and breath-taking desert vistas.

Arches National Park rangers suggest avoiding crowds and heat during the busiest months by visiting either the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint at sunrise, followed by an early morning hike in Park Avenue, or Landscape Arch at sunrise, followed by a hike to Double O Arch.

Rangers at Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park suggest bypassing the sunrise crowds at Mesa Arch by visiting Buck Canyon Overlook or White Rim Overlook instead. Or, perhaps packing in some food and hiking up Whale Rock just after sunrise to enjoy “breakfast with view” from the top.

In the Needles district of Canyonlands, rangers suggest family friendly hiking options such as the Slickrock and Cave Springs trails.

Families with a child who has received his/her Every Kid in a Park fourth-grade pass to all the national parks in the country will receive free entrance to the parks if the fourth-grader is present with the group.

Arches and Canyonlands winter hours

Arches and Canyonlands national parks are open all year, but the park’s visitor center operations change with the arrival of winter. The Arches visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during winter, but hours for different districts of Canyonlands National Park vary, depending on the area.

The Needles visitor center in Canyonlands National Park closed for the winter on Nov. 26 and will remain closed until March 6, Park Service officials said in a news release. The Island in the Sky visitor center in Canyonlands closed for the winter on Dec, 28 and will remain closed until March 3.

Park Service officials said law enforcement staff will remain on duty in both parks throughout the winter.

Permits are required for all overnight backcountry use. Park staff recommends that visitors wishing to stay overnight in the Island in the Sky district backcountry make advance reservations — and receive their permit two days or more before their trip — online at: www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm. Permits may also be obtained by visiting the NPS Central Reservation Office at 2282 Resource Blvd. just south of Moab. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., except federal holidays. Information about backcountry use may also be obtained by calling the Central Reservation Office at 435-259-4351.

Visitors who want to stay overnight in the Needles district backcountry must obtain a permit from the self-registration station located on the front porch of the Needles visitor center.

Day-use permits are required for vehicle and bicycle travel on the Elephant Hill Road in Needles and the White Rim Road in Island in the Sky. Permits for the Elephant Hill Road may be obtained at the self-registration station at the Needles visitor center. Permits for the White Rim Road are only available online 24 hours in advance of travel or on the day of travel. Visitors should also be aware that roads may be closed at any time due to unfavorable conditions.

“Visitor services (lodging, food, water, gasoline, etc.) are not available in the parks, so visitors need to be well equipped with all necessities upon arrival,” Park Service officials said.

Additional information about Arches and Canyonlands national parks can be obtained from their official websites at www.nps.gov/arch and www.nps.gov/cany.

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

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