Beautiful fall scenes like this may have contributed to the record number of visits to Acadia National Park in 2017. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Acadia sets visitation record

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Acadia has done it again.

It set a new one-year record for visitation in 2017, and it did it in 11 months. Visitation numbers for December have not yet been reported.

Through November, the estimated number of park visitors was just under 3.5 million, which eclipsed 2016’s record-setting number of 3.3 million for the entire year.

Last year was the first in which Acadia included in its visitor count the passengers who got off an Island Explorer bus anywhere in the park. But even if those 145,009 bus passengers had not been counted, the 2017 visitation number for January through November still would have exceeded the 2016 yearlong total.

In each of the past few years, about 11,500 people have visited the park in December. If that holds true for the month that just ended, Acadia will have gone over the 3.5 million mark for 2017.

Acadia remains the eighth most-visited of the nation’s 59 full-fledged national parks, just behind Olympia in Washington state and slightly ahead of Grand Teton in Wyoming.

Through November, the number of visitors to the Mount Desert Island section of Acadia was 2.91 million, up 0.9 percent over the same period last year. The Schoodic section of the park saw a 4.1 percent increase to 293,933, and visitation to Isle au Haut was up 1 percent to 8,781.

The number of visitors entering the park on commercial tour buses, including passengers from cruise ships plus those carried by local sightseeing bus operators Oli’s Trolley and Acadia Park Tours, was up 21 percent to 138,653.

The park calculates visitation each month using primarily two sources of data. One is an electronic traffic counter on the Park Loop Road near Sand Beach. That number is multiplied by a monthly “vehicle expansion multiplier” to account for vehicles in the park on a given day that do not pass over the traffic counter. That expanded vehicle number is then multiplied by a “persons-per-vehicle” average.

The number of tour bus passengers who are counted as park visitors is based on passenger counts submitted by the local tour operators and by the average number of passengers for the different sizes of motor coaches that buy commercial vehicle entrance passes.


Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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