This Utah State University report provides the findings of a study of visitor experiences with the pilot timed-entry system implemented in Arches National Park in 2022.
Two visitor intercept surveys were conducted, one during the timed-entry time period (April-October 3, 2022), a second survey was conducted between October 4th and November 7th. The purpose of the Fall sampling was to understand the experiences and motivations of visitor who chose to come to Arches after the seasonal timed-entry system ended.
Summer visitors were highly supportive of the pilot timed-entry program. 57% reported that timed-entry made their experience in Arches NP somewhat or much better overall. Additionally, 84% of respondents indicated that on future visits to ARCH they would prefer for there to be a reservation of some kind in place.
Most visitors were successful in acquiring a timed-entry ticket (89%), and of these respondents 98% were able to enter on their desired day, and 86% received their desired time. Overall, only 4% of respondents were not successful in acquiring a ticket. When asked to elaborate regarding not receiving their desired time, many respondents commented that they did not get to enter asearly in the day as they would have liked to.
Summer visitors reported that if they did not get a ticket for Arches NP they would be likely to visit during a different day or time, but would be very unlikely to not visit Arches NP during their trip to the area.
Most visitors reported access to the visitor center (56%) and ease of obtaining tickets (50%) tobe excellent. NPS communication of the system and its requirements had room for improvement with only 30% of respondents rating this as excellent.
Many measures of crowding were not a problem for summer visitors, with the exception of wait time to enter the park, which 31% of visitors indicated was between a small and big problem. These measures were not as much of an issue in the Fall (16%). However, in the Fall survey, crowding on trails and at arches was more of a problem, (40%, and 46%, respectively). Notably, repeat visitors rated conditions within the park better on this trip than past visits.
Summer visitors made the decision to visit Arches NP earlier, and planned their trip in general more carefully than Fall visitors.
Fall visitors most frequently cited temperatures (80%) and vacation time (64%) as their reasons for visiting in October and November.
Wayne Freimund, PhD
Iree Wheeler, MS
The authors of this report would like to thank the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) for their assistance supporting this study of visitor experiences with the Arches pilot-timed-entry system.