Visitors at Arches National Park Can Expect Wait Times of Up to Five Hours

The Utah park recently ended its timed entry pilot program

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
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Arches National Park

Utah, USA
Phone +1 435-719-2299

Arches National Park, one of the most popular parks in the U.S., has officially ended its timed entry pilot as of Oct. 3, bringing back its first-come, first-served admission policy with much fanfare.

The pilot, which was put into place in April, was intended to "better spread visitation throughout the day to reduce traffic congestion and visitor crowding," Arches National Park superintendent Patricia Trap said last year.

It certainly seemed to work. The park saw 158,925 visitors in July 2022, which amounts to roughly 1,700 fewer visitors per day than in July 2021, a spokesperson for Moab Adventure Center told TripSavvy.

Now that the timed entry ticketing system has lifted, Arches is seeing a resurgence in visitors, warning of crowded trails and three- to five-hour wait times to get into the park. Representatives will meet with partners and stakeholders later this fall to discuss the pilot program results and decide whether it's a "viable solution" to cut down on congestion.

"With the conclusion of the timed entry pilot, we would like to extend our gratitude to visitors, local community members, and park partners for their support of this program. The pilot met many of the goals we set out to achieve, including distributing visitation throughout the day and improving visitor experiences, and it provided data that will inform our next steps," said Trap.

While the pilot system was in effect, visitors were required to reserve their spot three months in advance to guarantee admission. However, the park also released a limited number of tickets every day at 6 p.m. for next-day entry. Should the system be reinstated, tourists can also book last-minute trips with tour operators like Moab Adventure Center, which has the proper permits to get people in without a timed ticket.

"Although in 2022 the number of do-it-yourself guests visiting Arches National Park was down, Moab Adventure Center saw record growth in guided park tours since the entry system was introduced," said Sierra Schmutz, general manager of the Moab Adventure Center, in an e-mail shared with TripSavvy.

For now, those looking to avoid the crowds should plan their trip in the off-season, from November to April, or arrive early in the morning. Follow Arches National Park's official Twitter account for the latest updates.

Article Sources
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  1. Arches National Park. "Arches National Park Will Conclude Timed Entry Pilot on October 4, 2022." September 26, 2022.

  2. National Park Service. "National Park Service to Pilot Timed Entry Reservation System at Arches National Park in 2022." December 10, 2021.

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Visitors at Arches National Park Can Expect Wait Times of Up to Five Hours