NPS ‘throwing out’ its draft plan for a reservation system at Arches

Public invited to upcoming meeting to discuss ideas, next steps

Cars awaits entrance to Arches National Park during a busy day. Photo by Doug McMurdo

Although a reservation system at Arches National Park is still a possibility, the idea has been put on hold as park administration searches for other solutions to vehicle congestion woes.

Following local opposition to a plan by the park to establish a reservation system that would limit the number of vehicles entering the park during peak hours and seasons, Kate Cannon, the park’s superintendent, announced at a meeting Tuesday, Oct. 8 that the plan for the reservation system has been scrapped.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, whose district includes Grand County, came to Moab to meet with local leaders, including the Grand County Council, the Moab City Council, local officials from public lands administrations and others to talk about issues affecting Moab related to public lands.

Arches National Park Superintendent Kate Cannon

During the meeting Grand County Council Member Curtis Wells, who has been working with Cannon to create a congestion management plan more palatable to locals, called on her to provide an update about the discussions and an upcoming public hearing about the matter.

“We’re taking a step back from our current plan and throwing out the old environmental assessment that included a reservation system,” Cannon said.

The environmental assessment, which was completed in 2017, had outlined an argument for the reservation system based on expected outcomes if the plan were to be enacted. Cancelling the assessment signals a major shift in how the park is approaching its traffic congestion problem.

Arches said on its website that cancelling the plan “does not mean we are disengaging from the challenges facing the park,” but rather changing its tack by going instead to Moab locals first to ask what can be done.

Public meeting Oct. 15

Arches administration will hold a public meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the Grand Center to discuss next steps in managing the park’s traffic congestion.

According to Arches administration, “park staff will discuss plans to further study visitor experience, transportation alternatives, and traffic patterns.” Cannon also indicated during the meeting with Representative Curtis and local officials that it would be an opportunity for locals to bring their own ideas to the table for staff consideration.