Arches National Park is one of five state parks and the third most visited park in Utah, according to KSL. Last year, more than 1.8 million people explored the 76,500-acre park, according to the National Park Service.
Source: KSL, National Park Service
I visited the park for two days in mid-May, just before Memorial Day weekend, which usually marks the start of peak season for national parks. I was hoping to avoid the large crowds by arriving before the holidays.
But even then I found it almost impossible to avoid the crowds.
For me, the crowd started at the entrance. This year, the park implemented a reservation system to alleviate traffic and crowding. To enter Les Arches between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., visitors must have a time-stamped entry ticket. Reservations open three months in advance and cost $2.
Monday night, after the sun went down, I stayed to stargaze in one of the few remaining dark skies in the contiguous United States. When the Little Dipper and Orion’s Belt appeared, I noticed that most of the crowd had disappeared.
Source: National Park Service