A visit to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area now requires a timed entry reservation for the park’s popular Scenic Drive.
The new program, which started Nov. 3, addresses capacity issues and long wait times from fall to spring, the Bureau of Land Management announced in September.
The new system requires entry reservations for people visiting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. now through May 31 , according to a news release. Reservations are available online at Recreation.gov, along with entry passes, and visitors with annual passes can enter the pass number at checkout.
Although the park has undergone varying levels of closure during the coronavirus pandemic, Bureau of Land Management spokesman John Asselin said implementation of the reservation system is not related to COVID-19 safety precautions.
“We’ve been looking for a solution for quite some time now with our capacity issues,” he said.
The reservation requires people to enter the park at a certain time but will not limit the amount of time visitors can stay in the park.
The park typically sees an increase in visitors when the weather is mild during the fall, winter and spring, which leads to the Scenic Drive closing when it reaches capacity. Asselin said it also can cause long lines of cars waiting to enter the park, stretching onto state Route 159.
“It’s a huge resource impact problem, and it’s also a safety issue,” he said.
The reservations at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area don’t cover the entry fee, which is $15 per car or truck without an annual pass. Visitors also have to pay a $2 processing fee to make the reservations at Recreation.gov, a third-party website used by the National Park Service for campground reservations, Asselin said.
Reservations will be available up to 30 days in advance, according to the BLM.
The park is currently open for November and December from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center and the Red Spring Picnic Area’s picnic tables remain closed because of coronavirus restrictions. The Elements Gift Store is open.