National Park Service officials are aware of the lack of parking in Arches. They are exploring options to improve a transportation infrastructure that was designed 50 years ago for an annual visitation of 75,000, but now sees more than 1 million people passing through the gate each year.
The most obvious option appeared to be a shuttle system. It works in other national parks, including two in Utah Zion and Bryce. Initial cost estimates, however, show that a shuttle at least one paid for by the National Park Service and limited to park boundaries would be costly and could be obsolete as visitation to Arches continues to grow. The cost of running the shuttle all 18 miles from the entrance to the Devils Garden parking lot is one of the main issues.
At Saguaro National Park in Arizona, the very species that gave the refuge its name – the tree-sized, saguaro cactus – is imperiled by an invasive, fire-prone, African weed first introduced to U.S. soil 80 years ago as livestock forage. On private land outside Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park, a coal company has been cleared to launch a 440-acre strip mine that, ecologists say, could pollute waterways and send dust clouds over the park. At Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina, a centuries-old canopy of hemlock trees is being eaten away by the woolly adelgid, an Asian insect first spotted in the park in 2002 – probably carried in unknowingly by a tourist, according to one park expert.
Famous Arches National Park, the Island in the Sky and Needles segments of Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Hose State Park are all one hour or less from Moab. The mighty Colorado River carves through the canyon country nearby.
Park officials will continue to explore options for reducing the number of cars in Arches, but, like many other National Park Service superintendents across the country Cannon suggests she will wait to see what happens with the presidential election before making any firm decisions.