Even camping will be restricted starting in March 2017 until October 2017.
Arches National Park will be the province of day use only for a large chunk of time.
Even when ( if?) backpacking is allowed back in the park at some point, I do find it troubling it has been stopped to asses environmental damage.
I understand protecting the resources and preserving the fragile environment.
So why do we persist in the antiquated, inefficient and environmentally damaging habit of allowing passenger vehicles in the highly visited national parks?
I went by Arches NP this past spring. After my birthday trip I toyed with the idea of stopping in for a quick day hike and see a place I have not visited in about five years.
The large line almost backed up to the road dissuaded me.
My thoughts when I read how the NPS is performing a study on backcountry use? That there is a a better way for long-term sustainability and to preserve the fragile environment of Arches and similar high use national park units: Ban private passenger vehicles.
I take a more moderate view than simply closing the roads.
What I suggest are shuttle buses only.
Shuttle buses with regular stops will allow all users to enjoy the parks Among them: Day hikers, backpackers, people who want to take it easy, those with small children or people with disability issues. All those cars backed up? Put them in a large parking lot instead. You can use the road to bike on if you’d rather be on your own schedule.
I skied on the main road at Black Canyon of the Gunnison a few years ago. What a wonderful way to see the park minus lots of traffic. Imagine biking the park in similar conditions? Or taking a leisurely bus ride along the road?
And when a person drives that person invariably loses out. Hard to enjoy a national park road when you are dealing with traffic, congestion and aggressive driving.
Even in a national park!
Though meant for urban areas, this photo below applies to any busy road. And the popular tourist roads in our National Parks certainly qualify.
I understand the NPS and other agencies are cash strapped. And the latest election cycle may accelerate that trend more.
But in the long run I suspect shuttle buses are less expensive. Less upkeep on the roads, lesser and smaller parking lots needed in the parks themselves, less animal deaths or traffic accidents and so on.
An argument could be made that people love their cars and won’t give them up.
But shuttles buses have proven to be very popular in Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact, I wish the shuttle bus service was more extensive and backcountry user-friendly so as to get from one end of the park to the other!
I suspect we won’t have many shuttle buses in national parks for cultural reasons and too much money to be made off our current mode of Industrial Tourism.
But if the NPS really wants to preserve the environment, get people better connected with the national parks and make them accessible to all people …get rid of private passenger vehicles in the parks that are being loved to death !
 The phrase “backcountry moratorium” is from from the Arches National Park website: “Why are you placing a moratorium on overnight backcountry use (backpacking)?“ Backcountry use is, of course, allowed. However not having overnight use restricts the amount of backcountry use that actually may be done overall, of course. Backpacking may not be as popular in Arches, but car camping most definitely is…and has been for a while. The implications of limiting overnights use and not looking at the root cause of environmental damage is disconcerting in my opinion.