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Acadia Centennial helps draw record 3.2 million park visitors

The Acadia Centennial has helped attract more than 3.2 million visitors so far to the national park this year, capped by record attendance for October.

acadia national park hiking

Views like these along Jordan Pond in October helped draw record crowds to Acadia this year.

An eye-popping 412,416 people visited during October, up 19.8 percent from last year’s monthly record of 344,362, according to statistics from the National Park Service.

Through October, visitors during the Acadia Centennial totaled 3.234 million, up 17.7 percent from last year. Depending on the weather, visitation could total 3.3 million for this year, said John T. Kelly, management assistant for Acadia.

Kelly said visitation this year reached 3 million for the first time since at least 1990, when the park changed the way it counts visitors. The previous record since 1990 was 2.845 million in 1995, according to the federal statistics.

Some good aspects of the crowds are that people came to enjoy the park and the park therefore collected more revenues from entrance fees and local businesses saw a boost, but the downsides include traffic congestion during peak periods.

crowds in acadia

Crowds in Acadia can make for an unpleasant experience as seen here on the Park Loop Road and Ocean Path. (NPS photo)

Visitation during the summer of the Acadia Centennial produced some staggering numbers.  In September, visitation was 570,434, up 19 percent from the same month last year; August, 735,945, up 10 percent; July, 696,854, up 15 percent; and June, 445,410 up 24 percent.

Visitors to the Schoodic Peninsula, the only section of the park on the mainland, reached 276,233 through October, up 31 percent from 210,549 during the same 10 months last year. More people went to Schoodic because of the new Schoodic Woods Campground and more than 8 miles of new bike paths.
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Acadia campers fired up over Schoodic Woods Campground

At the new Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia National Park, Bill Mulvey paused to admire his site as he and his son, Pat, set up their tent last week.

Bill Mulvey of Phoenixville, Pa. and his son, Pat Mulvey, pitch their tent at the Schoodic Woods Campground.

Bill Mulvey of Phoenixville, Pa., left, and his son, Pat Mulvey of Philadelphia, right, begin pitching their tent at the Schoodic Woods Campground at Acadia National Park after arriving on the day of the 100th anniversary of Acadia.

Mulvey, a retired assistant manager for a supermarket company, said he reserved the site about a month before arriving on a Friday for the weekend and it was the only spot available at the “very popular” campground. Mulvey, of Phoenixville, Pa., and his son, a middle school teacher in Philadelphia public schools, are among people camping at the Schoodic Woods Campground during its first full season of operation.

“It’s beautiful,” he said, pointing to the greenery that buffers sites. “Look at these trees. This is great.”

Located on the dramatic Schoodic Peninsula, the only part of Acadia on the mainland, the 94-site campground opened on Sept. 1.

Schoodic Woods Campground

From left to right, Eleanor Goldberg and Malcolm Burson, both of Portland, Jon Luoma and Cathy Johnson, both of Alna, stand in their site at the Schoodic Woods Campground at Acadia National Park after a bike ride together on the 100th anniversary of Acadia National Park.

During a visit on the actual 100th anniversary of Acadia National Park, July 8, Mulvey and other campers lauded the new campground which includes 4.7 miles of new hiking trails and 8.3 miles of new bike paths styled after the park’s carriage roads on Mount Desert Island.

“The bike paths are great,” said Eleanor Goldberg of Portland, who teaches English as a second language in adult education. “They are wide.”

Goldberg joined Malcolm Burson, public policy advisor for the Conservation Law Foundation, Cathy Johnson, a project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Jon Luoma, a watercolor painter, for a planned two nights at the Schoodic Woods Campground. Continue reading