ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Last Wednesday, Oct. 20, was the first day since May 25 that drivers of private vehicles did not need to have a timed-entry reservation to drive up Cadillac Mountain.
Even though the summit was shrouded in fog that morning, so many people wanted to go up for sunrise that the road had to be closed at 5:40 a.m.; 210 vehicles were turned away because there was no place for them to park at the top.
The road was closed again for sunrise on Thursday, when 258 vehicles were turned away. It also was closed for sunset on Wednesday and Thursday and for sunrise on Friday.
It is likely that the road would have been closed and vehicles turned away over the weekend, especially on Sunday, but the park did not have the staff to regulate the number of cars going up the mountain. Seasonal staff perform most of those duties. Seasonals can be hired for a maximum of six months, and those six months ended last Friday.
Chief Ranger Therese Picard said that when patrol rangers came on duty Sunday morning, they estimated there were 200-300 more cars than parking spaces on the mountain.
“[They were] parked on both sides for every single pullout up the entire road,” she said.
New visitor record set
There were an estimated 667,392 visits to Acadia in September, a new record for that month. The previous record of 603,273 was set in 2019.
That increase of more than 10 percent was despite the fact that only 7,695 motor coach passengers were counted as park visitors this September, down from 32,445 in the same month in 2019. The reason: In most years, a large percentage of people who visit the park on motor coaches are cruise ship passengers, and except for one small ship, no cruise ships visited Bar Harbor this year.
Also, the Island Explorer bus system, which accounted for 25,371 passenger visits to Acadia in September 2019, recorded only 13,656 passenger visits this September. That was because of a reduction in the number of bus routes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The total estimated number of visits to Acadia through the first nine months of this year was 3.42 million. The record for an entire year, set in 2017, is 3.51 million.