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Natural Awakenings National

National Parks Enacting New Regulations

Sign at entrance to Zion National Park


Because our national parks and protected areas are feeling the pressure of increased demand for outdoor recreation, the National Park Service (NPS) has cracked down on some recreational activities to better manage the human impact on natural environments. In 2021, the national park system hosted nearly 300 million recreational visits, and 44 parks set visitation records. The high number of cars creates congestion, pollution and collisions with wildlife. Overcrowding on trails can lead to higher risk of hiking accidents and illegal off-roading.

Two Utah national parks will start requiring reservations. At Zion, Rocky Mountain and Glacier national parks, guests need a permit to hike certain routes. Arches National Park guests will have to book timed entry tickets during the high season. Acadia and Zion announced the temporary closure of some popular climbing sites starting this month to ensure that peregrine falcons can nest without disturbance.

In 2021, the NPS gave park superintendents the authority to ban e-bikes if they adversely impact natural resources or other visitors, as well as scenic air tours at dawn or dusk or within a half-mile of the ground. Biologically important behaviors for many species occur during sunrise and sunset such as foraging, mating and communication. The hours of operation provide quiet periods of the day during which visitors can enjoy natural sounds and preserve opportunities for solitude in designated wilderness areas.

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