A surge of private riders heading into Bryce Canyon National Park has caused problems on the park’s trail system, prompting park staff to reduce the number of windows available on the trails for private riders while the plan to existing management for the management of private and concession riders is reviewed.
Since 2015, when Southern Utah Park saw just 124 private riders in 33 groups exploring the Bryce Canyon trails, there has been a 650% increase in private rides, to 814 riders in 199 groups Last year. At the same time, overall park attendance increased by 35% to a peak of nearly 2.7 million visitors in 2018.
The decision to change the riding regulations was made to settle disputes between concessionaires and private horse groups on steep and narrow trails. When private and dealer groups meet on the trail, unfamiliar horses can behave in unpredictable ways, creating particularly difficult interactions for inexperienced dealer riders to safely control, according to a park statement. Runners may also be forced to turn back, often in areas where steep cliffs and sensitive resources leave little room to do so.
By modifying the reservation system to provide dedicated times for each user group, the park intends to preserve access while mitigating risks. Ultimately, the park will use a public planning process to develop a long-term solution that best balances public enjoyment, access and safety.
The park’s highest priority is the health and safety of its visitors. Park managers are working with Garfield County officials to address their concerns. Consequently, the park is modifying the schedule for private users to better ensure the separation of these groups of users in time. To provide dedicated track time for each user group, the park will suspend the three private ride time slots that previously overlapped with the dealership hours of 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Six private ride bookings for up to 10 riders will still be available each half. hour from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Recognizing that increasing the private use of horses necessitates a review and revision of the park’s management plan, the park intends to initiate a public planning process. A broad scope of issues, development of alternatives, and public participation will allow the park to develop a plan that appropriately balances the needs and interests of all affected user groups as well as public safety and preservation. Resource.
Discovering the trails below the rim of Bryce Canyon on horseback can be an unforgettable experience. Concessionaires are private companies authorized by contract to provide visitor services such as these and others not provided by the park. By welcoming the private sector as a partner in park operations, the National Park Service broadens the economic base of the region generally and in the communities surrounding the parks.
For more information on horseback riding in the park, including how to book a ride, visit https://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/horse.htm