National Park

Disappointing photos show crowds at Utah’s Arches National Park

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.

People gather near the delicate arch after walking 1.5 miles.

Monica Humphries / Insider



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.

The author in front of a sign for Arches National Park.

The author in front of a sign for Arches National Park.

Monica Humphries / Insider



Source: Insider

But even then I found it almost impossible to avoid the crowds.

Arrows point to all people at the windows section of Arches National Park.

The arrows point to everyone in the Windows section of Arches National Park.

Monica Humphries / Insider



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.

Side by side images of a sign discussing the Arches National Park reservation system and a screenshot of my reservation.

To enter Arches National Park, visitors had to have a reservation.

Monica Humphries / Insider



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.

Stars in the Garden of Eden at Arches National Park.

Stars in the Garden of Eden at Arches National Park.

Brad McGinley Photography/Getty Images



Source: National Park Service