Arches National Park has become one of the most popular national parks in the country. Since 2004, the number of visitors has increased every year. Currently, about 1.6 million people travel to Arches National Park each year. This is a stark difference from the 178,500 visitors back in 1970. A lot has changed over the decades.
To keep up with Arches National Park’s popularity and continue to preserve the area for generations to come, the National Park Service has instituted a timed entry reservation system. Let’s look at how this Arches National Park time entry service will operate in 2022.
What Is the Arches National Park Timed Entry?
From April 3 to October 3 of 2022, a pilot system of timed entry reservations will manage traffic and improve visitor experiences.
According to Kaitlyn Thomas a Public Affairs Specialist for Arches; “The NPS is implementing this system as a temporary pilot to determine if timed entry will help better manage traffic and congestion during the peak season”
This is temporary, but after evaluating the effectiveness of the process, the park may permanently implement this reservation system.
Before 2022, visitors waited in long lines and sometimes got turned away because of the large capacity of guests at the park. Hopefully, the Arches National Park timed-entry reservation system will create a smoother experience for visitors and help the rangers and staff better manage heavy traffic.
If you’re visiting between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., you’ll need a reservation. If multiple vehicles travel together, each vehicle will need a timed entry ticket. The window is now open on Recreation.gov to purchase timed-entry tickets. January 3, 2022, was the opening day for reservations.
How Does the Timed Entry Work?
Upon entering Arches National Park, according to your timed entry reservation, you’ll need a photo ID, timed-entry ticket, and the park entrance fee. Valid passes include the Southeast Utah Parks Annual Pass, Interagency Annual Pass, Interagency Lifetime Senior Pass, Interagency Volunteer Pass, Interagency Military Pass, and Interagency 4th Grade Pass. The reservation holder must be in the vehicle.
You will only be allowed to enter the park if you have your timed-entry ticket. However, you can get a limited number of next-day tickets at 6:00 p.m. MDT each day. So if you were unable to reserve your entry, you could log on to Recreation.gov each evening to try to grab a next-day ticket. These tickets will sell out quickly, so plan ahead.
Pro Tip: Unable to get a ticket into Arches National Park? Don’t worry! We uncovered What Are The Best Utah National Parks?
Where Can I Reserve My Arches National Park Timed Entry Ticket?
You can only reserve your timed entry tickets online at Recreation.gov. You can also contact the Call Center Reservation Line at (877) 444-6777, but this is not recommended. Your reservation will happen quicker and easier online. Recreation.gov suggests creating an account before making a reservation to avoid delays. These timed entry tickets are free, but you will have to pay a $2 processing fee.
On January 3, 2022, the first batch of timed entry tickets was made available three months in advance. Each month, a new set of reservations will be available. For example, if you’re looking to visit Arches National Park in June, log in to Recreation.gov and make your timed entry reservation in March. If you’re going to visit in September, timed entry tickets will be available starting June 1, 2022. For a complete schedule, the Recreation.gov website to find out the earliest you can make your reservation.
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How Long Does It Take to Get Into Arches National Park?
Before this Arches National Park timed entry system, visitors could wait hours to get into the park. Sometimes the park would close due to heavy congestion — parking lots at trailheads usually closed by 9:00 a.m. With the implementation of the timed entry system, the National Park Service hopes to make the experience more enjoyable for guests by reducing the wait time and decreasing congestion. We don’t know how much reduction we’ll see in wait times, but limited entries should greatly alleviate the problem.
Can You Drive Straight Through Arches National Park?
You can drive through Arches National Park. Most people try to get in a hike or two, so the parking lots at the popular trailheads fill up very quickly. If you arrive at the park by shuttle or public transportation, you’ll need a bicycle to get around or buy tickets for a commercial tour. There is no public transportation inside Arches National Park.
The traffic is far busier on the weekends and during the holidays. To avoid larger crowds, try to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Since the park is open 24 hours a day, you can come before 6:00 a.m. or enter after 5:00 p.m. without a timed entry ticket.
The distance to the first iconic feature in Arches National Park – Balanced Rock – is about nine miles. The farthest is Devil’s Garden at 18 miles. Generally, it will take about 40 to 45 minutes to drive straight to Devil’s Garden, depending on traffic.
Is One Day Enough for Arches National Park?
Many guests will tell you that one day just isn’t enough to see and experience the beauty of Arches National Park. Hopefully, with the implementation of the timed entry system, it will be easier to visit for two or three days. That way, you can take your time, enjoy the numerous hikes, and perhaps catch a gorgeous sunset over the red canyons. Just make sure to log in on the first day of the month (three months before you visit) to grab your timed entry tickets.
Pro Tip: Looking for a less traffic heavy entrance into Arches National Park? Check out this route we took into Arches National Park!
Do You Need Reservations for All Utah National Parks?
Data shows that between 2009 and 2019, there was an increase of 66% in visitations at Arches National Park. As a result, visitors have complained about heavy traffic, overcrowding, and general negative experiences. This pilot system from April to October will scatter guests throughout the day, hopefully improving visitor experiences.
Guests travel from all over the world to experience the beauty of southeastern Utah. Let’s hope that this timed entry system will create a more positive experience for everyone involved – from park rangers to staff to visitors.
Have you made your reservation yet? Drop a comment below!
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