Acadia National Park visitation off in September

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The estimated 499,664 park visits in September were 17.2 percent fewer than in the same month a year ago. And for the first nine months of this year, visitation was down 29 percent to 2.1 million. 

Much, if not all, of the decline is because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In September 2019, commercial bus passengers – many of them from cruise ships visiting Bar Harbor – accounted for 36,637 park visits. There have been no cruise ships here this year because of the pandemic, and the number of people visiting the park on commercial buses was down nearly 95 percent to 1,879. 

The local sightseeing bus companies, Oli’s Trolley and National Park Tours, carried a total of 15,335 people into the park in September 2019. This September, the number was zero. 

And last September, 25,371 Island Explorer bus passengers – 25 percent of the bus system’s total ridership for the month – were counted as park visitors. But the Island Explorer did not run at all this year. 

Anecdotally, it seemed that, perhaps because the buses were not running, more people visited the park in their private vehicles. But the estimated number of people entering the Mount Desert Island section of the park in September was down 3.7 percent from last year. Non-bus visitation to the portion of the park on the Schoodic Peninsula was off 19.2 percent. 

In September, a year ago, Acadia’s four campgrounds – Blackwoods, Seawall, Schoodic Woods and Duck Harbor – recorded 39,677 overnight stays. None of those campgrounds opened this year. 

Even the tiny section of Acadia on Isle au Haut, accessible only by boat, saw 47.3 percent drop in day visitors, from 702 last September to 370 in the same month this year.  

For the first three months of this year, overall park visitation was up 44.4 percent over the same period last year. Then the COVID-19 pandemic began to dramatically affect tourism. The number of visitors to the MDI section of the park was off 40 percent in April. 

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]

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