The pilot program launched next year aims to reduce congestion and overcrowding.
Visitors to Arches National Park will soon need reservations to access the park’s iconic arch formations and other red rock features, the National Park Service said on Friday.
The timed-entry reservation system will launch next year and is part of a pilot program to reduce congestion and overcrowding. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1.6 million visitors have visited Arches each year.
“We had to temporarily delay access to the park by closing the gates when all of our parking lots were full,” said Kaitlynn Thomas, park spokesperson. “And so a delayed entry system reduces the need for that.”
The pilot program runs from April 3 to October 3. Visitors can start making their reservations, which are valid for a one-month block, on Recreation.gov starting January 3.
The parks system will open reservations three months in advance, according to this schedule:
April reservations (April 3-30) are open on January 3.
May reservations (May 1 to May 31) are open on February 1.
June reservations (June 1 to 30) are open on March 1.
July reservations (July 1 to July 31) are open on April 1.
Reservations for the month of August (August 1 to August 31) are open on May 1.
September reservations (September 1 to 30) are open on June 1.
October reservations (October 1 to 3) are open on July 1.
After making a reservation, visitors will receive a timed admission ticket, allowing them to check in within a designated one-time window, which will fall between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. on any given day.
The designated time window is for initial entry only. Once visitors enter they can stay as long as they wish or exit and re-enter the park with the same validated ticket. Scheduled entry reservations will not be required for visitors holding a Camping Permit, Backcountry Permit, Fiery Furnace Permit, or Special Use Permit.
If you have not made an advance reservation, a limited number of reservations will be available for purchase at 6 p.m. the day before scheduled entry, also through Recreation.gov. Reservations will not be available at the park entrance.
“We believe this will create a better experience while maximizing access for our visitors,” Arches National Park Superintendent Patricia Trap said in a statement. “Additionally, we will use the data collected from this pilot to adapt and improve this system throughout the season, as well as to inform our future responses going forward. “