|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.
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.
“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.
“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|
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.
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 www.npca.org