“Anywhere you go, there’s going to be a line.”
As many national parks resort to reservation systems to deal with record crowds, some without these setups are struggling to contain the crowds. According to the Wall Street Journal, crowds at national parks, especially in the state of Utah (Home of the “Mighty Five”) are at record levels and are overwhelming the local communities. Arches have seen a 15% increase from April 2019 to April 2021, while Canyonlands has seen a 30% increase in visitors during the same time period. Tourists have faced waits ranging from thirty minutes to two hours getting into Arches or Zion, two of the most popular national parks in the country. Some tourists even had to wait four hours to do the popular Angels Landing hike during Memorial Day Weekend. Locals have been irate over the amount of graffiti, littering of trash, human-caused wildfires in the drought-ridden state, and human waste around the parks. And the parks can’t be properly staffed due to the outrageous rental and housing prices in the towns of Moab and Springdale.
It's the busiest weekend of the year! Wait times as of this morning:
Zion Canyon Shuttle – 2 hours wait to board.
Angels Landing – 4 hours wait to begin hike.
Parking in Zion Canyon is currently full. Parking may be available in the town of Springdale, just outside the park. pic.twitter.com/DGKqrcYOt2
— Zion National Park (@ZionNPS) May 30, 2021
With this crazy rise in tourism to begin the summer, local officials in Moab are pondering whether to follow other national parks and introduce a reservation system. A reservation system was considered in 2018 for Arches, but local blowback that it would cause a fall in tourism shut this down. According to KSL, the Moab City Council and Grand County Commission have sent a proposal to the park service to implement a reservation system at Arches starting in September, just in time for the tumultuous Labor Day Weekend crowds.
Grand County Commissioner Mary McGann has pointed out that the reservation system has actually improved in the town of Estes Park, Colorado, which is on the outskirts of Rocky Mountain National Park. Also, Moab has multiple national and state parks: Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and Manti-La Sal National Forest. This could also not work potentially, as Zion has implemented a reservation system for their shuttle service, and the place is still swamped. Also, some people still show up to parks even if they don’t have a reservation, which causes the lines to be even more insufferable.
In the meantime, America’s most important demographic, TikTokers, are voicing their disgust.