I heard about the plan to require advance reservations for Arches National Park and my gut reaction is that it just doesn’t feel right. Turning people away at the door seems against the spirit of the national parks. It kills the free spirit of the American West. The West is about the Great American Road Trip … jump in your car and take to the open road. You don’t plan six months in advance which national parks to visit. You don’t even need to book a hotel.
Most people seem to agree. But the conversation always comes down to, “So what can we do it about it? Arches is really popular.” So a bunch of us got together and tossed around ideas. We came up with some good ones.
First, the big idea. Let’s not just solve the popularity challenge; let’s make Arches National Park the first fully sustainable, solar-powered, zero emissions national park in the nation by 2030. That’s something we can rally around.
We start with a Visitors Center at the UMTRA site. Everyone parks here and has three options for entering the park. First, you can hop aboard the electric mini shuttles for free. Second, you can pay a premium fee and keep your car (but no oversize vehicles in the park). Third, and most awesome, for a moderate fee, you can rent one of our custom electric Jeeps using car-sharing app technology. At each stop, you park your Jeep in the back of the line, and then pick up the first Jeep in the front of the line on your way out, optimizing the parking within Arches. Jeep is interested. So is ZipCar. And by 2032, we aim for 100 percent self-driving electric cars.
And it’s not just a Visitors Center; it’s Basecamp Moab. We create an Expeditions Center too, with local tour operators and adventure guides represented. The strategic idea is that Arches gets you to Moab, but now it’s our job as a community to present tons of fun alternatives, so maybe you decide to go canyoneering or searching for petroglyphs, and then return to Arches for the full moon. We live here; we know that Moab is a whole lot more than Arches – let’s share that with our guests.
And now Basecamp Moab has the largest parking lot in town, so let’s create a river esplanade from Canyonlands by Night to the Portal, with riverside restaurants and an amphitheater for large events like the Moab Music Festival. And we offer a space to the Museum of Moab closer to Highway 191, then connect everything with a desert garden promenade lined with local artisanal shops and galleries. The whole thing is powered by solar. Tesla responded very favorably.
It is poetic symmetry that the site of the uranium mill that powered the first boom of Moab will now serve as the epicenter for the environmentally sustainable future of our community.
That’s just one idea. Contribute more out-of-the-box ideas. We got this, Moab!