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News Arches National Park - a futurist vision

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ratagonia, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Good article in the Tribune...

    https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2018/07/08/commentary-heres-how-fix/

    Teaser:

    Commentary: Here’s how to fix crowding at Arches National Park — without a reservation system
    The Arches National Park proposal to require advance reservations is more concerned with protecting the land from the very people it is mandated to protect the land for.

    The biggest story in Moab is the proposal by Arches National Park to require advance reservations. The National Park Service cites traffic congestion as the reason, and it would make Arches National Park the very first major national park in the nation to require advance reservations.

    Is there a better solution? Yes. The infrastructure of Arches National Park was conceived in the 1950s when we began our love affair with our private cars. Every infrastructure decision still favors private cars. This model of national park visitation is not sustainable. This model requires you to build huge parking lots everywhere you would like to facilitate visitors.

    Let’s design the 21st century national park. A national park that prioritizes bicycles, public transport, and walking over private cars. Let’s design a national park that prioritizes choices that get people in touch with the sights, sounds, and vibrations of the Earth.
    ...
    Zach T, geotech, Ali Miller and 7 others like this.
  2. Bill

    Bill ... Staff Member

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    I've made two trips to Arches this year. That place is an absolute nut house, its the new Zion. :moses:
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Wait, I though Springdale was the new Moab!!!
  4. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    When it comes to congestion, overall, I find Springdale to be worse than Moab. This is partially due to geography-the valley holding Springsale is more confined, and partially due to Springdale having less public land outside the surrounding national park lands.

    Both are pretty much zoos on holiday weekends and weekends in the tourist season though.

    That's a great article though.
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  5. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I think they're on to something here!

    Spent a few days in Yellowstone two weeks ago. It only takes 10 minutes of hiking outside the normal foot traffic routes to find solitude. Felt like we had the park all to our self... Mr and Mrs Meriwether Lewis with a smart phone! o_O ... that didn't have reception 90% of the time - a fantastic technology fast.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  6. 3d3vart

    3d3vart

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    Agreed.

    I find it a bit frustrating when people complain about a crowded National Parks simply because the trail to Delicate Arch was crowded, say, or complain about crowds at Yosemite because the valley campgrounds were full, or that Yellowstone National Park is a mess because you have to stand in line to get an ice-cream cone at Old Faithful Yes, National Parks are undoubtedly seeing more visitation than ever before, but that "more visitation" doesn't universally correlate to "more crowded". Many parks (not all) are seeing less backcountry visitation now than they did in the 1970s or 80s (or numbers are about equal to their highs back then after taking big dips in the 90s). Also, while more people are visiting parks, the length of stays are dramatically shorter as most folks just participate in windshield tourism these days as they drive through the park, or take a short hike to take a few selfies. Usually, one only needs to park the car and walk, get away from the gift shops and parking lots, or get a backcountry permit and camp, or just visit sometime that isn't a holiday weekend and you'll find as much or more solitude than could be found in the park 40 years ago (not always..Zion might be a good counterpoint although I haven't seen the numbers--but I lived in Springdale in the 90s and it seems to me that canyoneering has brought significantly more folks into the backcountry in that park..overnight included).

    Just an anecdote but my most recent of dozens of Arches trips over the last 30 years was this April when I took my 4 year old daughter down to show her some of the touristy sights now that she's old enough to hike on her own and appreciate what she's seeing. We arrived before 9am and drove right up to the gate without waiting in line. We parked at Windows where only three other cars were parked, and hiked Double Arch without seeing a single other person until we were almost back to the car. I know, just one anecdote, but this was on a spring break Sunday in 2018. I've never had a problem getting into or around Arches and I'm, uh, crowd-averse to say the least. Just pay attention, go early, go late, go in bad weather...and you'll be fine.
  7. Sutitan

    Sutitan

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    Mostly Agree. I went to Arches (end of April) and Zion (Memorial Day) and saw exactly this. It was Earth Day that weekend in Moab, and entrance to the park was a non issue. Parking to get the canyons I was doing was a non-issue (Dragonfly and U-turn). Dragonfly was empty, U-turn was a bit busy, but mostly because a large group was clogging things up. Similar case in Zion. If you went on hikes not called the Narrows or Angels Landing, you were fine. We did get dumped into the Narrows at the end of one of our Canyons and saw the zoo that it was, and ran into a similar case at Angels Landing, but everywhere else off the road or not down Zion Canyon felt pretty quiet, especially considering this was supposedly Zions busiest weekend ever. In fact, finding camping near the Smithsonian butte was a complete non issue. Finding dispersed camping on any given weekend is usually an issue on any given weekend near Denver. I was blown away how easy it was near Zion.

    The thing is, most people just want to see whats just off the road, or at most a 10min hike. People will start pushing a few hour if it'll help them get the photos that everyone sees (Narrows, Angels Landing, Delicate Arch, etc). Avoid the road and the main attractions and you'll be fine.

  8. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    What always concerns me about plans like the one in Arches (somewhat, because it's on the other side of the state from me) and Zion (much more, since it's my home park) is that the management plans tend towards very blanket restrictions. Zion's plan is still in the early stages, but the some of the options they've discussed have included putting the entire park on a permit system with quotas, and creating a reservation system that would lock the entire park once the main canyon "fills up." The reasoning being (in the exact opposite of the aforementioned ideas of spreading out the impact) that once the main canyon closes due to crowding that if the rest of the park was left open people would move to there and cause problems. The end result is that my stepping over a fallen-down run of barbed wire somewhere west of Dakota Hill to enter the park is no different than someone driving their car into the main canyon in terms of causing crowding problems. o_O

    The real problem to me seems to be a sense of panic amongst the NPS. It's not just that visitation has increased, it's that it has increased so fast. I imagine they thought they'd have more time to adjust to levels of visitation ramping up and instead they got a flood that's overwhelming their infrastructure and personnel. Combine that with ever-present budget and personnel shortfalls, and the fact that visitor management plans take several years to put together and implement. What you get is a park service worried that they can't react to the changes quick enough and are therefore looking for plans that handle the problems with the grace and nuance of a sledgehammer instead of more elegant solutions. But who knows what the final plans will look like. I do know that it will be smart to pay careful attention to what's being discussed so that alternatives like this can be offered and/or pushed.
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  9. Ali Miller

    Ali Miller

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    Hmm. NPS data supports this. To the old, I mean, knowledgeable people here: any thoughts on why this is happening?

    What's happened to turn places like Arches and Zion into... what they are now?
  10. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    2008 recession + Utah's EXPLORE THE MIGHTY 5® marketing campaign + Social Media bucket-list amplification + ...?
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  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    For Zion, I blame a big change in the management of the town of Springdale. There used to be a size cap on motels of 35 rooms. Then changed (I think) to 135 rooms, which means it was now open to chain motels. So they came, and built something like 800 motel rooms in Springdale in the last 5 years. If people can get rooms, they will come.

    (note: the numbers quoted were pulled out of where the sun rarely shines)

    Tom
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  12. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    And don't forget the the Subway! (the fast food place not the hike) That's probably responsible for at least 100,000 more visitors the last couple years. ;) Good point for sure.

    Oh I think we all know it's the Millennials' fault. But seriously, social media plus the end of the recession plus accessibility. For a while there people really couldn't afford to travel much, and right around the same time that was getting better social media exposure reached critical mass. For good or for ill, I think that simply wasn't anticipated. You still see a lot of people talking about "don't designate things a monument/park, because that will bring all the people." Yeah, maybe once upon a time, but that's not how it works anymore. All it takes now is a couple of photos going viral and *boom*. Are people going to the Wave because it's part of Vermilion Cliffs NM? And what National Park is Kanarra Creek in? If it's easy to get to, and people are taking cool photos there, it's going to get popular. Really the only protection for a lot of places is the difficulty in reaching them. Hence the entire "Pave the Hole-in-the-Rock road" argument. Anyway, maybe the Big 5 advertising campaign has a lot more impact overseas, but I really feel that all that traditional advertising stuff is a drop in the bucket. By comparison the social media advertising campaign is unplanned, uncontrolled, and quite unstoppable.

    Keep in mind too that when I talk about how accessible places like Zion and Arches are (the main points of interest anyway), crowding is not necessarily seen as a problem. To a lot of folks coming from big cities, in particular from Asian locales, there is nothing out-of-sorts about the great masses. Certainly there's a lot of folks who are not really concerned about trying to find solitude.

    Anyway, Quickest way to solve the crowding problem in Zion? Cave in the tunnel and take a jackhammer to Highway 9 between, say, Virgin and Springdale. :twothumbs: Oh, sorry Tom, you can take the back way... wait, didn't they just pave that too?
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