The current parking options at Arches National Park were designed five decades ago and based on annual visitation of 75,000.
More than a million visitors now make their way to Arches annually, many headed for Utah’s iconic Delicate Arch.
Peak season visitation to Delicate Arch averages about 2,000 people, but the trailhead parking lot at the historic Wolfe Ranch has only 73 spots.
"We don’t feel that we have an issue with too many people, just with too many cars," Arches National Park superintendent Kate Cannon told The Salt Lake Tribune in the fall of 2012.
To accommodate visitors, officials allow roadside parking, which is technically against the rules.
The National Park Service is exploring ways to reduce congestion at the popular parking lot and will be taking public comments as part of an Environmental Assessment on possible options.
Strategies, according to a release from the park, include expanding the parking lot, eliminating roadside parking and implementing a reservation system.
The parking issue is complicated because the trailhead is near the Winter Camp Wash, which floods during heavy rainstorms, cutting off the Delicate Arch Viewpoint Road. Officials want the Environmental Assessment to include objectives for dealing with the flood issues as well as the parking congestion.
A brochure is available for review on the park service’s website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/arch; comments can be made on the site as well.
The public comment deadline is April 8. Comments can also be mailed to the National Park Service, Southeast Utah Group, Attn: Planning and Compliance Coordinator, 2282 S. West Resource Blvd, Moab, Utah 84532.
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