NPS hosts Arches congestion meeting Oct. 15

Visitors to Arches National Park wait in line to get in. Photo by Doug McMurdo

With the potential for even more visitors now that e-bikes and ATVs and UTVs are now allowed, the National Park Service will resume its public outreach efforts regarding how to address traffic congestion at Arches at a meeting from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Grand Center, 182 North 400 West.

According to the NPS, staff will discuss plans to study the “visitor experience, transportation alternatives and traffic patterns.”

Visitation to Arches has increased by over 90 percent in the last 11 years. As a result, visitors face long wait times at the park’s entrance and parking lots. In 2015, the NPS began a planning process to manage traffic congestion, according to a statement from the NPS.

This effort, the Traffic Congestion Management Plan Environmental Assessment, outlined options that have included a reservation system for entry to the park. Based on comments from the public, the NPS canceled this environmental assessment so that the park can continue gathering information on its traffic-management options.

“Waiting hours in line to enter the park or looking for parking are not the memories we want people to take away from their visit to Arches,” said Arches National Park Superintendent Kate Cannon. “We want to improve access to the park, maintain a world-class visitor experience, promote safety, and protect resources. We look forward to working with the public and local leaders as we move to our next steps.”

Grand County Council Member Curtis Wells and Moab City Council Member Kalen Jones have been working to address the issue, as well. The two councils could share the cost of a two-day session with a firm that specializes in such matters, according to a discussion held in early December.