The number of visitors at Acadia National Park in 2014 was the highest in 15 years, boosted by good weather, national media exposure and a healthy economy.
According to statistics released by the National Park Service on Wednesday, 2,559,473 people visited Acadia last year, up 13.5 percent from 2013. Acadia attracted about 305,000 more people in 2014 compared to 2013.
That’s the most since 1999 when 2.602 million visited the Maine National Park, according to statistics on the web site of the National Park Service.
The video was taken by Andy Bell using a GoPro camera and drone in May 2014, before drones were banned. The music is “Two Rivers” by Lisa Schneckenburger. YouTube video used with Andy Bell’s permission.
National publicity, economy help boost visitors
In November, after Acadia set a record for October visitors, Charlie Jacobi, natural resource specialist for Acadia, had predicted the annual visitation might be the highest in 15 years.
Jacobi has attributed the strong numbers to the weather, gas prices, cruise ship landings in Bar Harbor and possibly the extraordinary publicity.
“Good Morning America” aired a segment in the park in July, after the show’s viewers named Acadia “America’s favorite place.” Readers of USA Today also voted Acadia the No. 1 National Park.
In an e-mail on Jan. 8, Jacobi said that 2014 numbers for Acadia are good but the park may have also logged about 2.5 million visitors in 2013 except for the federal shutdown in October and the sequester of 2013. The sequester, or federal budget cuts, may have affected travel and the economy during the spring and summer.
“We may have got a bump from the USA Today and GMA publicity,” he added about 2014 numbers.
Jacobi said that Acadia in 2015 might draw 2.4 million or 2.5 million visitors because that has been the mean for the past 20 years.
Jacobi said 2014 visitation numbers for the Schoodic Peninsula section of the park are based on estimates using past years and the data will be updated in a couple of weeks. He said it is unclear right now how much the update for Schoodic will affect overall final 2014 park visitation statistics, but maybe not much.
The number of visitors to Acadia in 2014 barely edged 2002, when 2.558 million visited the park.
Last year, amid some spectacular fall foliage, the most-ever visitors, totaling 313,920, came to Acadia for an October. That topped the previous October record of a little more than 301,000 in 2012.
Jacobi has confirmed that the number of visitors in October set a park record for the month. During October of 2013, Acadia was closed for 16 days because of a federal government shutdown.
Visitation last year might have been even higher except for a couple of snow storms that closed park roads in November.
Only 31,013 people visited Acadia in November, down from 41,181 in November, 2013, according to the park service statistics.
In December, 9,856 people visited Acadia, up from 7,540 for the same month in 2013.
The busiest months were August, with 638,152 visitors, up about 20,000 from August of 2013, and July, with 561,073, an increase of about 6,000 from July of 2013.
January and February could be other good months to visit if you want solitude in Acadia. Last year, 10,459 people went to the park in January and 10,258 in February. The park offers a list of winter activities.