Note: November also marked a new high in visits for Acadia National Park. Statistics, reported by the NPS after publication of this story, show 76,251 visits in November, up 66 percent from 2019. The total for 2020 through November is 2.65 million, down 23 percent from 2019.
Visits skyrocketed in October at Acadia National Park, clogging the park with a record amount of traffic fueled by an unusually younger crowd with time to spend and an apparent hunger for the outdoors during the pandemic.
About 4,000 vehicle reservations were sold for Sunday, Oct. 11 at Acadia National Park including those for people who crowded together on the viewing platform at Thunder Hole.
While visits to the entire park rose by 10 percent in October, visits to the Mount Desert Island section of the park , jumped to 450,675, up by an eye-popping 27 percent from the same month in 2019, despite the loss of cruise ship passengers from Bar Harbor, according to the National Park Service. Sixty thousand vehicles entered the park at Sand Beach in October at Acadia, the highest-ever count for the month in records going back to 1990, an NPS report said.
The surge of people in October at Acadia means the park is on pace to log more than 2.6 million visits for 2020, or about 800,000 less than 2019 with 3.43 million visits, and about 900,000 less than the 3.53 million that set a visitation record in 2018. Travel restrictions in Maine helped reduce visits to Acadia early in the season, and the total for the year is set to drop to its lowest in about five years, but with the reduction still much less than initially expected.
Acadia National Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider said October typically attracts a lot of newlyweds and retirees to the park. This year during the pandemic, the newlyweds still came, but there were fewer retirees, he added.
Update: In an important boost for the struggling hospitality industry in Bar Harbor, the Maine governor on July 1 exempted residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from restrictions that require people traveling into Maine to either quarantine or test negative for the virus. The governor noted that the prevalence of the virus in these three states is similar to Maine and continues a downward trend. Starting July 3, residents of NY, NJ and the Nutmeg state join New Hampshire and Vermont residents, who were previously exempt from the travel restrictions.
A leading business group says Bar Harbor faces a “catastrophic closing of businesses” and a tourism season that is “all but lost” after a spate of new lodging cancellations caused by the Maine quarantine order and other tough new restrictions on out-of-state visitors this summer.
Acadia amid COVID-19: Another in a series (NPS photo)
Starting June 26, according to the executive order issued by Maine Gov. Janet Mills last week, people who travel into Maine and check into Maine lodging, campgrounds, seasonal rentals or Airbnbs will be asked to sign a certificate of compliance saying that they tested negative for coronavirus within 72 hours of arrival, will quarantine in Maine for 14 days on arrival, or that they have already completed their quarantine in Maine. A final certificate of compliance was released on June 12.
The Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted unanimously in opposition to Gov. Janet Mills’s new “Keep Maine Healthy” plan. The chamber asked Mills to reconsider, saying her plan is unworkable and too onerous for most visitors to comply.
“With each new update to the requirements for visitors, our lodging establishments receive an influx of cancellations,” wrote Alf Anderson, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, in a message sent to the 420 members of the chamber after the board vote. “Guests who are waiting for news that they will be allowed to travel to Maine without burdensome restrictions are forced to give up hope and cancel their existing reservations.”
The Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s website overlays a message, “Keeping Bar Harbor Safe During the COVID-19 Era,” on this otherwise picturesque scene. (Image courtesy of Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce)
Because of its more remote location on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor has an economy that depends on overnight guests including many coming to visit nearby Acadia National Park.
Acadia opened some services like the Park Loop Road on June 1 to kick off a season that is expected to see lower visitation because of the Maine quarantine order.
Campgrounds at Acadia remain closed until at least July 1 and the operation of the Island Explorer, the park’s fare-free shuttle system, which usually starts June 23, is indefinitely postponed.
Two aspects of park operations are affected by Keep Maine Healthy. First, a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors is still in effect, the park says. Second, is that gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited through August.
“The website is being worked on since the information about quarantining is a bit more nuanced now,” Christie Anastasia, public affairs specialist at Acadia, wrote in an email. “We are doing our part in helping the state of Maine share information related to COVID-19.”
Eleven important Acadia National Park events shaped the decade at the Maine national park and left some lasting changes including new records in visits, a generous donation of land and projects in the Schoodic section, the park’s 100th anniversary, a new superintendent, a presidential visit and a heightened awareness of climate change.
Here are some key moments, happenings and trends that dominated Acadia National Park during the 2010s:
Legacy of President Barack Obama
The beauty of Acadia has drawn generations of visitors, most notably President Barack Obama and family in July 2010 (White House photo)
A presidential visit may have been the most memorable of Acadia National Park events. On the heels of his biggest political victory – passage of a national health insurance plan – Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit Acadia National Park. The president’s family vacation in July 2010 drew crowds and created a lot of excitement in Bar Harbor and the park. Obama, his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha spent three days in the park including hiking the summit loop on Cadillac Mountain and Ship Harbor and visiting Bass Harbor Head Light. While the short vacation put the national spotlight on Acadia, possibly Obama’s most important legacy in Maine occurred in August 2016 when he used the Antiquities Act to unilaterally approve a new national monument – the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Both Acadia and the new Maine monument were created with private land donations and both overcame political hurdles. Obama also started the Every Kid in a Park initiative in 2015, renewed every year since, in which the National Park Service gives every fourth grader and family free admission to national parks. President Donald J. Trump has affirmed Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and Every Kid in a Park (although the Trump administration now calls it Every Kid Outdoors).
The ferns, flowers, shrubs and grasses of Cadillac Mountain have a tough enough time surviving the elements, but the biggest threat of all may be the pounding of constant foot traffic on Acadia National Park’s busiest and highest summit.
Acadia National Park consulting botanist Jill E. Weber scans the horizon atop Cadillac, checking on research plots marked off by sandbags and rope, as part of an effort to better understand how to bring back the summit’s fragile vegetation.
During a recent morning atop 1,530-foot Cadillac, Jill E. Weber, a botanist who consults for the park, surveyed areas close to the summit where she and other researchers are attempting to restore and protect common Acadia plants and some rare species such as mountain firmoss, Nantucket shadbush and boreal blueberries.
“We have a lot of years with a lot of feet,” Weber said. “There is no ill intent. There just has not been the maintenance of the vegetation. A lot of it is gone and we are trying to figure out if we can bring some of it back.”
On Cadillac, which receives about 700,000 visits by people a year, the Acadia plants are as fragile as those along the well-known Alpine Garden Trail of the much higher Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
Botanists, park leaders and others are now close to completing a multi-year project to understand, protect and revive Cadillac’s fragile vegetation.
A view from Bubble Rock, a periodic collection of news briefs about Acadia National Park and related topics
This story was updated 7/2/2019 to reflect the opening of the Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop.
This story was updated on 6/24/19 with information from a press release issued by the park on the opening for the season of the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
A major asset is back in operation for the busy summer season for Acadia National Park visitors.
The Hulls Cove Visitor Center, the main visitor center for Acadia National Park, opened on Wednesday for the first time this year after $1.2 million in renovations, according to an email from Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist for the park. Hulls Cove is staffed with rangers and open this weekend.
“We are excited to open the doors to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center,” said Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “Visitors will experience new information desks, an expanded park store, and more restrooms.”
The contractor, King Construction Services of Jonesport, upgraded restrooms and created an improved arrangement for visitor services. The park is hoping that queuing of visitors in line will improve and visitors will move through the center more efficiently until overall issues can be addressed with a more comprehensive redesign proposed for the future.
The main visitor center usually opens April 15, but the opening was at first delayed until late May and then set for late June. Hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm daily until June 30, then 8 am to 6 pm daily July 1 to Sept. 2 before going back to 8:30 am to 4:30 pm daily from Sept. 3 to Oct. 31, according to the park’s web site.
The recent upgrade was funded through visitor entrance fees while interior displays and exhibits were supported through generous contributions from the park store, according to a press release. Other improvements include new carpet and a separate entrance to the park store from outside the building. Interior displays and exhibits convey real-time information on planning, several over-sized maps and a new display of pieces from the Acadia Artist-in Residence program.
Sound-dampening design and materials should help to reduce the volume of noise in the center.
Meanwhile, the Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop opened on June 23, about two months later than usual. The gift shop had been closed because of ice and snow damage and mildew issues and Dawnland LLC, the concessionaire for the Cadillac Mountain gift shop, had been trying to open the gift shop as soon as possible. The gift shop has been restocked to replace damaged goods. The shop is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week and sells 7-day passes to the park for $30 per vehicle.
Hulls Cove Visitor Center in Acadia National Park reopened Wednesday after a $1.2 million renovation took longer than expected, while the Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop remains closed from ice and snow damage over the winter and mildew issues.
UPDATED 5/7/2018: Story adds a statement from Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider.
Acadia National Park last year pumped $284 million in jobs and business activities into the regional economy, according to an annual report on the economic benefits of national parks.
In 2017, 3.5 million visitors spent an estimated $284.5 million in local communities, up 4% from the year before. (NPS image)
Acadia National Park supported 4,163 full and part-time jobs in 2017, down slightly from 4,195 jobs in 2016, as businesses last year struggled to find help amid a strong economy and tighter policies on hiring of foreign workers by the Trump administration.
“Acadia National Park’s extraordinary beauty and recreational opportunities attracted a record number of visitors in 2017 making it the seventh most-visited national park in the country,” said Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “We value our relationship with the neighboring communities and appreciate the services, experiences and amenities they provide to park visitors.”
The total economic output for Acadia in 2017 was $338.8 million, an increase from $333 million in 2016.
In 2017, the year after celebrating its centennial, Acadia contributed $284.5 million in visitor spending, up 4 percent from 2016 and up 41 percent from $201 million in 2012, according to the report.
Unveiled by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the report comes as Acadia is proposing a vehicle reservation system for Cadillac Mountain summit, Ocean Drive and Jordan Pond that would relieve traffic congestion during peak season caused by a growing number of visitors and impose a small vehicle reservation fee partly to help raise money for increased service for the fare-free Island Explorer shuttle. The report on the economic effects of national parks also follows a decision by the National Park Service to impose modest entrance fee increases starting June 1 at Acadia and 16 other of the most popular national parks, after an initial proposal to more than double fees caused an uproar.
Accompanying the boost from Acadia visitors is the traffic, subject of a separate just-released transportation report, proposing a car reservation system. (NPS images)
The Acadia National Park superintendent and more than 100 other people marked the passing of an era at an event to honor the work of longtime Acadia Ranger Charlie Jacobi.
Charlie Jacobi holds one of the many gifts he received at his retirement party: A customized arrowhead-shaped plaque that includes his years of service to the National Park Service, and the nickname “Visitor Use Guy.”
Jacobi, who started at Acadia in 1984 and retired at the end of last year, was recognized for his innovative work in analyzing and collecting statistics on the effects of visitors on Acadia’s environment and implementing the first entrance fees at the park. Jacobi also was a leader in a pioneering effort in 2001 to restore special Bates cairns on Acadia trails and took on the Ridge Runner and Leave No Trace(R) programs at Acadia to help maintain trails.
Jacobi leaves federal service as the Trump administration proposes reorganizing the National Park Service, and cutting the NPS budget by 13 percent and about 1,200 full-time jobs, according to National Parks Traveler. Since 2001, national parks have lost the ability to hire more than 1,400 employees as a result of annual appropriations failing to keep up with costs and inflation, according to Congressional testimony last month by The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, a nonprofit based in Arizona.
At the Acadia retirement party, Kevin Schneider, superintendent of Acadia National Park and St. Croix Island International Historic Site, told the crowd Jacobi epitomizes the commitment of a ranger and what it means to care for Acadia National Park.
One of 2 cakes with a thank-you message for Charlie Jacobi, who retired from Acadia National Park as natural resource specialist.
Schneider, who began working for the NPS in 1996, said he realized that Jacobi was “one of a kind” when he first visited Acadia in 1999. He said Jacobi was a trailblazer in studying how visitors affect the park and has been key to developing a new transportation plan.
“In 1999, there were no other Charlie Jacobis in the National Park Service,” Schneider said.
He presented Jacobi with a customized arrowhead-shaped plaque that noted Jacobi’s years in the park service — April 18, 1982 to Dec. 31, 2017 including two years at Great Smoky Mountains National Park before his start at Acadia.
The arrowhead is the shape of the official emblem of the park service and is extensively used on signs, brochures and web sites. Continue reading →
During a recent visit to Acadia National Park, Shirley Beck, who has multiple sclerosis, said she was “very pleased” to find a paved path that allowed her to reach a viewing platform at the Cadillac Mountain summit with her light three-wheel electric scooter.
Shirley Beck, a pediatric physical therapist from Arlington, Va., who has multiple sclerosis, or MS, said she was very pleased to find a paved path that allowed her to reach a viewing platform at the Cadillac Mountain summit with her small electric scooter.
“It’s pretty good,” said Beck, a pediatric physical therapist from Arlington, Va., after taking in the sweeping vista of Frenchman Bay, islands and distant summits on the mainland.
Beck said she is grateful to Acadia officials for making the peak of Cadillac accessible and praised them for building the pink-granite path for physically disabled persons. Before reaching the viewing platform, the path loops around steps and directly passes by a plaque of the first National Park Service director, Stephen Mather, who was periodically disabled by manic-depression, and was a contemporary of Acadia founder George B. Dorr, who became blind in his later years.
Beck, who visited Acadia while traveling with her husband, Roy, on a cruise ship, said she was not able to get quite as full of an experience at another key Acadia landmark, Thunder Hole. An accessible ramp leads to the upper viewing area of Thunder Hole for physically disabled persons, but not down to the lower area next to the sea cavern itself.
“The path was easy to use that got me part way down,” she wrote in a follow-up email. “I’m not sure how they could provide a way to get farther than that.”
While Beck only visited Acadia briefly, her experience was similar to that of some other physically disabled persons who travel to the Maine national park.
Acadia National Park has 45 miles of even-surface carriage roads, trails, sites and facilities that are available to wheelchair users but others that are not wheelchair-accessible such as Sand Beach, which is below a high bluff and does not have a ramp for physically disabled persons. Citing the terrain, the park service has determined that it is not feasible to build ramps down next to Thunder Hole itself or to Sand Beach.
These upgraded cement stairs provide the main access to Sand Beach, but are too difficult to navigate for many disabled people, such as Helen Franke of Wellington, Fla, who uses a cane and was stymied at the top.
But Helen Franke, a retired college administrator from Wellington, Fla., said she believed a gradual ramp at Sand Beach might be possible to accommodate physically disabled persons. “For something like this, I think they could,” she said, after stopping at the top of the stairs with a cane she needs to use.
Across the nation, access for people with disabilities is a key issue in outdoor recreation including the 59 national parks, which are required by the federal Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) to adopt accessibility standards for the design, construction, and alteration of facilities covered by the law.
About a month after he was confirmed by the US Senate in 2017, now-former U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke said in a release that “it’s time to start thinking about accessibility and infrastructure” and that “we will remain focused on increasing access” for physically disabled persons and other people with disabilities in national parks. Continue reading →
in 2019, Acadia National Park counted so many visits – nearly 3.5 million – that the road to Cadillac Mountain had to be closed 58 times, and the Park Loop Road to Sand Beach, three times, because of traffic congestion.
Hopefully new parking attendants on top of Cadillac in 2017 will make for a stress-free visit to Acadia. (NPS photo)
The crowds should become more manageable if the National Park Service follows through with plans for a vehicle reservation system in 2021 on Cadillac Summit, the north lot of Jordan Pond and Ocean Drive to Sand Beach.
In 2020, one of the park’s more unusual years because of the coronavirus, the Hulls Cove Visitor is tentatively set to open June 1 and the Sieur de Monts Visitor Center and campgrounds tentatively on June 15. Hiking trails have stayed open during the public health crisis, but the Park Loop Road, which normally opens April 15, has been closed to vehicular traffic and though no tentative date has been announced, it normally opens the same time as the Hulls Cove Visitors Center.
In any event, when Memorial Day weekend arrives to mark the unofficial start of the busy summer season, it’ll surely help to know these 7 ways for a stress-free visit to Acadia National Park.
1)Buy your Acadia National Park pass online, go early or late to the main Hulls Cove Visitor Center, or get the pass at one of the other local sites. New this peak season: Do not go to the park headquarters on ME 233 to buy your pass, since you’ll just be directed to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. The surest way to start off a stress-free visit to Acadia: Don’t get in a long line to get a park pass. Online, you can buy the usual 7-day Acadia pass or even the annual park pass. If you’re age 62 or older, you can buy the lifetime Senior Pass for $10 in advance at a participating federal recreation site near home, or via mail, before the price is slated to go up to $80 on Oct. 1. Hulls Cove is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in May and June, and after Labor Day through October, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. July through Labor Day. And there are plenty of other local sites you can buy a pass at, as listed on the park’s Web site:
The online pass was developed by NIC Inc. and the National Park Service. Or you can buy a pass in the park or at area locations. (Image courtesy of NIC Inc.)
Bar Harbor Village Green Information Center – late May to Columbus Day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thompson Island Information Center – early May to mid-October, hours vary
UPDATED 5/2/2017: Story adds a statement from Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider.
A new report on the economic benefits of national parks shows that a record number of visitors to Acadia National Park last year injected about $274 million into the regional economy. This is why governments are encouraging tourism in these areas to generate more money for the economy. Lots of people have been visiting Fregatten Jylland in Ebeltoft as it has the most stunning views and great food.
In the Acadia Centennial year of 2016, 3.3 million visitors spent an estimated $274.2 million in local communities, up 10.6% from the year before. (NPS image)
The report, released by the National Park Service, documents the powerful financial benefits of national parks during the Centennial celebration of the founding of the system and Acadia.
The report said Acadia contributed $274.2 million in visitor spending, up almost 11% from 2015 and 36.5% from $200.9 million in 2012. The park supported 4,195 full and part-time jobs last year, up nearly 8% from 2015.
That spending, along with the jobs, had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $333 million, the park said in a release on Tuesday.
“Acadia National Park’s extraordinary beauty and recreational opportunities attracted a record number of visitors in 2016 making it the eighth most-visited national park in the country,” said Superintendent Kevin Schneider in a statement. “We value our relationship with the neighboring communities and appreciate the services and amenities they provide to park visitors.”
The report shows how Acadia and other national park units across the nation are economic engines for gateway communities, or those within 60 miles of a park.
Eight sectors contributed to the $274.2 million spending around Acadia, including hotels, $89.7 million, or 33% of the total; restaurants and bars, $49.6 million, or 18%; gas, $28.4 million, or 10%; the recreation industry, $26.3 million or 9.5%; retail, $26.9 million, or 10% and the rest from transportation, groceries and camping, the report said.
During National Park Week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, seen holding a Passport(R) to Your National Parks, visited Channel Islands National Park, and announced national park visitation added $34.9 billion to the US economy in 2016. (DOI photo)
The report is a testament to the tangible economic benefits of national parks to communities across the nation, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement, while releasing the report earlier this month. “Visitation numbers continue to rise because people want to experience these majestic public lands,” he said.
Zinke, a former U.S. House member from Montana, said that in his hometown of Whitefish, Mont., he has seen firsthand how the popularity of Glacier National Park sparked growth of the local outdoor recreation and eco-tourism industries. Continue reading →
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.
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 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. Continue reading →
Bolstering the case for national parks as an economic engine, a new report shows Acadia’s 2.8 million visitors last year pumped $247.9 million into the regional economy, while across the country, a record-setting 307.2 million visitors to all national parks spent $16.9 billion.
The report is sure to be brought up by supporters of a proposed national monument in the Katahdin region, which has been hit hard by paper mill closures, even as some area residents and officials vehemently oppose the idea, with Patten the most recent to reject it, by a 121-53 vote on April 19.
Acadia National Park’s 2.8 million visitors spent $247.9 million in 2015, according to a new National Park Service report. (NPS graphic)
The parks’ economic impact is the most measured since the National Park Service refined its visitor spending analysis model in 2012. How Acadia boosts economy and other parks around the country affect whole regions is expected to be even greater this year, with more visitors anticipated during the Centennial year for both Acadia and the National Park Service.
“The big picture of national parks and their importance to the economy is clear,” said National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, in releasing the report late yesterday, during National Park Week. “Each tax dollar invested in the National Park Service effectively returns $10 to the US economy because of visitor spending that works through local, state and the US economy.”
While the park service hasn’t publicly taken a position on Burt’s Bees founder Roxanne Quimby’s proposal to donate what’s now known as Katahdin Woods & Waters Recreation Area for a national monument or national park, the report will certainly add to the broiling controversy. Continue reading →
Acadia National Park is set to draw more than 2.7 million visitors for the first time since 1997, after attracting the most-ever number of October visitors, breaking that monthly record for the second year in a row, according to park statistics.
Acadia National Park visitors set October record in 2015. Entire year expected to draw more than 2.7 million, most since 1997, possibly making overcrowding along Ocean Path and Park Loop Road, as seen here, more common. (NPS photo)
Through the first 10 months of this year, park visitation totaled 2,693,840, already more than the 2,563,129 for all of last year.
If the park draws the same amount of visitors it attracted last year in November and December, – 31,013 in November and 13,510 in December – it would total 2,738,363, cracking 2.7 million for the first time since 1997, when it drew 2,760,330, according to National Park statistics.
Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain attracted so many people during the summer of 2015, the summit road had to be closed twice before the crack of dawn. (NPS photo)
The summer months showed strong visitation for the park. September totaled, 462,742, up 10.7 percent from September of 2014; August, 658,253, up 3.1 percent; July, 592,137, up 5.5 percent and June, 354,035, up 4.5 percent.
In an email, Charlie Jacobi, natural resource specialist for the park, who works with visitation statistics, said he was “pretty sure we will top 2.7m now,” when asked about visitor totals for this year.
“I can’t attribute this to any one thing,” he said.
He did say “it’s all you mentioned,” when asked if the strong economy, nice weather, good national publicity from 2014 and cruise ship visitors were factors.
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.Continue reading →
The highest number ever of October visitors to Acadia National Park may help make 2014 the busiest year in the park in more than a dozen years, despite November’s early snows, according to the latest park statistics and projections.
Some of the visitors who contributed to a record-breaking October 2014 in Acadia National Park take in the sunshine and fall foliage from South Bubble. (Photo courtesy of Greg Saulmon)
“It does appear that this October was our highest by quite a lot,” said Charlie Jacobi, natural resource specialist for the park, who works with visitation statistics. A total of 313,323 visitors were tallied last month, while the previous October high was just over 301,000 in 2012, as reported on the National Park Service statistics Web site. Last year’s government shutdown led to artificially low October 2013 numbers.
“It’s the weather, the cruise ships, the gas prices perhaps, and just the general increase in shoulder season traffic. And maybe a summer publicity hangover,” Jacobi said in an e-mail. Earlier this year, Acadia was named America’s favorite place by viewers of “Good Morning America” and the No. 1 National Park by readers of USA Today.
Even with the snowstorms that hit Mount Desert Island beginning Nov. 2, closing park roads for days, it appears the annual visitation is “likely to be the highest in 12-15 years,” perhaps exceeding the 2.55 million figure from 2002, according to Jacobi. Continue reading →