I’ve been in the tourist business in Moab since 1960. Happy tourists support my business and yours. They come from all over the U.S. and the world to visit Arches National Park. Many are on a tight schedule. To learn, after getting here, that they don’t have the required reservation to get into the park, many will leave, and they won’t be happy. Unhappy tourists don’t spend money. They will leave town, They will be sure to share their disappointment.
Before we make such a rash decision to require permits for entrance into Arches, we should explore and implement every other possible solution, even if it is temporary. Here are my suggestions, which have been obvious to me for years:
Arches National Park encompasses more than 76,000 acres. There are 2,000 natural arches. How many are described in brochures and the entrance map?
1. Promote these lesser-known “hidden” arches.
2. More, not fewer pull-offs. Every view is amazing. Every view a photo opportunity.
3. Open up a second entrance to the north at Willow Flats, the original entrance to Arches, which would allow people to go all the way through the park instead of having to turn around.
4. Facilitate easier, more efficient entrance procedures.
5. More, not fewer walking trails. Each one with an exciting description. Cliffs, canyons, boulders, rock-slides – so many incredible sights.
6. More camping areas. There is space. Yes, camp spots can require reservations.
7. Of course, encourage tourists, with incentives even, to come at less busy times.
OK, to open up the park, add camp spaces, roads, trails, and a second entrance will cost money. But look at the big picture and see that it will be more economical in the long run than the complexities of a reservation system.