|Monday, Mar 13, 2006|
The weather is warming-up, but everything is very dry at Arches National Park after a virtually snowless winter. Beginning on Sunday, March 5th, the Visitor Center at Arches will be open from 7:30 A.M. until 6:30 P.M. daily. Campfire programs will be offered nightly beginning Friday, March 10th at the amphitheater at the Devils Garden Campground at 7:00 P.M. From March 19th to April 1st, they will start at 7:30 P.M. and as of April 2nd (when Daylight Savings Time is implemented), programs will begin at 8:30 P.M. As summer progresses and sunset gets later in the evening, programs will begin as late as 9:00 P.M.
Guided hikes through the maze of fins and canyons known as the Fiery Furnace will be offered twice daily beginning on March 5th, at 10 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. The walk times will change to 9:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. on April 16th. Reservations and tickets for these popular, moderately strenuous and exciting walks must be made only at the Arches Visitor Center, no more than seven days in advance and for groups no larger than ten people. Larger groups may request a special tour, which will be scheduled if staff is available. Fees are $10 for adults and $5 for children 7-12 years of age and $5 for holders of Golden Age Passport; children six and under are free.
Those visitors wishing to hike in the Fiery Furnace without a ranger are reminded that rangers recommend going on a guided walk the first few times through. If you think you can find your way through this trail-less and confusing area on your own, you must obtain and pay for a special permit at the Arches Visitor Center. Groups intending to hike on their own in the Fiery Furnace will be required to attend a five-minute orientation program to learn about the fragile nature of this special place and how they can protect themselves and park resources. The permit fee is $4 per person.
Local hikers may obtain an annual pass for the Fiery Furnace after watching the program once. This pass will allow them to obtain permits in the future without watching it again. If local hikers bring friends or family from outside the area with them, those people will be required to watch the program.
Guided walks (not in the Fiery Furnace) will begin on Sunday, March 5th. Offered at 11 A.M., these short, easy and free walks will be offered daily in the Windows Section of the park. Beginning on March 19th, afternoon guided walks will also be given at 4:00 P.M. at various locations in the park. Check at the visitor center or on bulletin boards throughout the park for times and locations. It is now possible to reserve 28 campsites at Arches National Park through the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS). Reservations can be made on-line at www.ReserveUSA.com or by telephone at 1-877-444-6777, for the nights of March 1st through October 31st. No reservations can be made at the park, nor can staff tell you what sites are available. Twenty-four sites will continue to be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Beginning on Monday, March 1st, pre-registration for the non-reservable sites in Devils Garden Campground will be done at the Visitor Center beginning at 7:30 A.M. daily, and at the entrance fee station after 8 A.M. Campers will have until noon to deposit their $15 fee at the campground. Sites not claimed by noon will be made available to others. Campers should be aware that the campground fills each day, often by mid-morning, so an early arrival is recommended. Campers are also reminded to bring their own firewood for the grills; collecting of firewood in the park is not permitted.
All trails and roads in the park are open. Spring rains may cause temporary closure of the unpaved two-wheel drive roads in the park or may necessitate use of four-wheel drive vehicles until surfaces dry out. Information on current conditions can be obtained at the visitor center.
Spring is an especially pleasant time of year to visit Arches National Park. While weekends are quite busy, weekdays are quieter and visitors are more likely to find that much sought-after solitude. Early mornings are particularly quiet and enjoyable. Come out to Arches and experience the wonder of your national parks.