Dear Editor:

There is widespread consensus that during the high tourist season from about March through October, traffic congestion in and around Arches National Park has become intolerable. Two major proposals have been advanced to address this problem: instituting a reservation system for entry and using shuttle buses to convey visitors to popular attractions. In my opinion, these alternatives should not be considered mutually exclusive. I would recommend combining them as follows.  

First, allow private vehicles to enter the park year-round before and after certain hours of the day (for example, 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.). Secondly, limit the number of private vehicles permitted to enter the park between those hours by means of reservations. Registered campers, visitors with disabilities and people with permits to explore areas that are otherwise inaccessible, such as Klondike Bluffs, would be exempt. Surcharges for private vehicular entry during peak hours could apply.

Third, set up both an express shuttle that would stop at major attractions and a local shuttle that would stop briefly at every designated overlook and every trailhead (excepting Klondike Bluffs) during peak hours. Ideally, reservations would not be needed to board these public buses so that all visitors could be accommodated and, in principle, no one would be turned away. If the sheer volume of visitors were to render that scheme impractical, people could reserve seats on inbound shuttles for a particular time of day (say, 9:30 a.m.). Outbound shuttles, by contrast, would not require a reservation; people at each stop simply would stand in line to await their turn. The system could be financed either by instituting user fees or by increasing the price of admission for all park visitors.

Fourth, allow licensed tour buses that accommodate an established minimum number of people (say, 25 or 30) to enter the park during normal working hours. Private providers could be authorized to pick visitors up at local motels. Entry times for these operations could be staggered, and per person fees could be set higher than any that may be assigned for riding on the public shuttles. Light rail, if it can be made economical, might work even better for motel runs.

So that’s my plan. What’s yours?

Sandy Hinchman