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No Backpacking In Arches National Park For Now


Backpacking in Arches National Park currently is banned while a natural resources impact study is prepared, and the Devils Garden Campground will be closed from March through October due to road work in the park/Kurt Repanshek

Backpacking permits have been placed on hold in Arches National Park in Utah, where officials want to study whether the existing program is sufficiently protecting natural resources in the red-rock park.

According to park officials, over the past decade the annual number of backpacking permits has increased dramatically. "Given this increase, we implemented a moratorium to evaluate whether current backcountry use allows for adequate protection of park resources," a park release said.

Park officials hope the study, which started last fall, will lead to new backcountry overnight regulations later this year. They note that the temporary hold affects only overnight backcountry trips, and that day-hiking continues to be allowed in the backcountry.

Front country camping at Devils Garden Campground will also be impacted this year, from March 1 through the end of October, as road work in the park will require the campground's closure. Construction crews will work on the entire 26-mile park road system. Areas, roads, and trails will close during construction. Road work will begin at Devils Garden and will gradually move toward the park entrance as work progresses.

That road work will carry impacts for all visitors, whether hiking or simply exploring the park's front country. If Arches is on your vacation planner this year, you might consider Canyonlands National Park next door, or wait until November to visit.


This is where the NPS would like to go with all backpacking.  They would like to end it permanently outside of guided trips by concessionaires.  The NPS doesn't want people in the backcountry and their fee schemes are a great way to do it.

That is a pretty broad statement to say that all National Parks do not want backpackers. This article suggests they are looking into ways to protect the resource not keep out backpackers.

Beyond 'broad statement' it sounds closer to 'parnoid fantasy'.

Looking for an education. Why can't this be done with people using the back country overnight? Or at least using it on a smaller scale? Guess I'm struggling to come up with how allowing back country camping would interfere with a study but not day hiking.

"Parnoid Fantasy".   (Try spell checking Rick B., but I swear I'm not out to get you.)  The NPS frequently employes "resource degradation" as a justification for reducing backcountry camping.  Yet they provide no data to back it up.  The NPS has successfully reduced backcountry camping throughout the system.  But, guide services are BOOMING.


To the best of my knowledge, there are no commercial guide services for backcountry overnight camping in Arches.  If you want to argue about commercial guide services vs non-commercial ranger-led use, feel free to argue about day hikes into Fiery Furnace.  Given the need for guides to reduce danger to visitors (and, to a lesser extent, damage to resources), and limits to how many visitors per day can be accommodated, my preference would be more slots for ranger-led tours and fewer for commercial tours.  But, just like park lodges vs tent camping, some visitors prefer commercial package tours over individual arrangements.  Getting the balance right when there are limited slots is difficult, whether Fiery Furnace hikes, Grand Canyon float trips, or the boat over to the USS Arizona at Valor in the Pacific.

As for NPS more generally trying to reduce backcountry camping relative to commercial guides in the backcountry: I don't know about GRSM, but that doesn't seem to be the case out west.  Maybe things are different out here, where almost all commercial services use pack stock, and thus have greater resource impacts per visitor than backpackers.  Out here the argument is over reducing stock use and thus commercial guide services in the backcountry.

Finally, I've never seen a fee structure where the permit/fee directly from NPS costs more than through a commercial guide service.  I'm not saying they don't exist, only that I've never seen one.

Thanks for pointing that out backpacker. I'm seeing docs right now for both my arthritis [my typing is lousy] and my vision [cataract surgery soon]. You understood what I was saying and my observations were still spot on. Just watch out for them black helicopters.

 And thats how it's done ladys  and gentlemen, point out something that is wrong. That all good citizen who are thinking adults are supposed to do. And the our government employees (Rick B.) are quick to use the tried-and-true post World War II tactic of all civilians are crazy. Anyone that reads the above statements understands that backpacking is the lowest impact to the environment there is. By just allowing day hikes,  what's the most amount of stress and limited areas.  And as far as the roadwork goes, they just have to start from the front and work their way back to slowly open the park. By starting from the back, they could always say that the construction could overtake campsites and block them in. The roads in national parks are repaired by the department of transportation, they are completely Able to work around any traffic situation. And it certainly doesn't take an entire season, to repair 26 miles. 

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