Saturday, January 21, 2023

Plan ahead to visit popular national parks

“Thanks to managed access, visitors to Arches, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks saw more wildlife and wild lands than brake lights and traffic jams the last several years" says Cassidy Jones, Senior Outreach and Engagement Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. 
Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

People love national parks, and inspirational sites such as Arches, the Great Smoky Mountains and Yosemite have welcomed a steady increase in visitors over the years. At some of these especially popular parks, crowded conditions have led to problems and frustrations, including traffic jams, overflowing parking lots, packed and unsafe trails, and threats to wildlife and plants. Some people have even gotten turned away at entrance gates, creating negative and unpredictable experiences at the very places we turn to for solace, beauty and reflection. 
Visitors to Arches National Park must sign up for a time to enter.

Luckily, some of our most overwhelmed parks are exploring solutions, including reservation and timed-entry systems similar to what many museums, movie theaters and other venues have already put in place to ensure there is space for each guest. With a bit of advanced planning, visitors can have safer, less stressful experiences and see more of what makes these parks special. 
Glacier National Park is one of the most scenic in the U.S.

“Bringing pilot programs back to Arches, Glacier, and Rocky Mountain in 2023 allows park managers, advocates, visitors and community members more opportunities to refine these systems as they plan for permanent visitor use management solutions. 
Spectacular views in Many Glacier section of the park.

“Data shows that the pilot programs are working, as 70% of Glacier Park visitors supported the reservation system during its first year alone,” Jones adds. Visitors realize that anaging excessive crowds helps heavily-visited parks maintain high quality experiences. 
Opportunities abound to see wildlife in their natural habitat in
Glacier NP, Montana

Rocky Mountain National Park
As an example, Rocky Mountain National Park has experienced nearly 50 percent increase in visitation over the last decade. “In response, the Park successfully implemented a trial timed entry reservation system during the last three years to lessen impacts to park landscapes and improve visitor experiences,” says Tracy Coppola, Colorado Senior Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. 

The true value of a place isn’t measured in dollars or acres, but in the lives it has touched. And while national parks account for just over 3% of protected lands, they are hubs for much larger landscapes and ecosystems. 

Rocky Mountain NP is called the "accessible wilderness.

Parks thrive when the lands around them are healthy. The air, water and wildlife that move in and out of parks must be safe and protected for parks to flourish. That’s why visitors are asked to support programs that limit the number of people in the park at any given time. Advance reservation systems and timed-entry programs help ensure that everyone has the best experience possible. 
In the fall, aspens glow in Rocky Mountain NP, Colorado

Information courtesy of, Kati Schmidt, Director of Communications. National Parks Conservation Association

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