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.