July was Acadia’s busiest month ever

ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Park visitation last month was not only the highest on record for a July; it was the highest ever for any month. 

There were an estimated 781,990 visits to Acadia this July, 679,428 of which were to the Mount Desert Island section of the park. The number surpasses the previous one-month record of 767,219 set in August 2018. 

As reported previously, these numbers are not actual counts of individual visits or visitors. They are estimates arrived at by applying a set of multipliers to some actual counts. But while the numbers themselves might not be exact, they do show trends in park visitation and are useful for year-to-year comparisons. 

Estimated visitation over the first seven months of this year was 1.95 million – another all-time record – and more than one million more than last year’s January-July total, when tourism was curtailed by COVID-19. 

The Island Explorer bus system recorded 94,251 passenger trips between June 23, when the buses started rolling, and July 31. One-quarter of those passengers were counted as park visitors. 

Acadia’s overall visitation numbers for this July included 68,235 for the section of the park on the Schoodic Peninsula. That was 111 more than in August 2017, when the previous record was set. 

The 2,420 visits to the Isle au Haut section of the park last month were well below the record high for any month, 3,379, set in August 2015. 

There was a total of 36,860 overnight stays last month in Acadia’s four campgrounds – Blackwoods, Seawall, Schoodic Woods and Duck Harbor. That was up from zero last year, when the campgrounds remained closed because of COVID-19. But the number for this July was also far below the record, in part because group camping was still not permitted in any of the campgrounds. 

Acadia’s all-time, one-month visitation record set last month might not stand very long. Typically, the park has the most visitors in August, followed, in order, by July, September, June and October. 

The cruise ship factor 

In most years prior to 2020, park visitation was boosted in the summer and fall – especially in September and October – by cruise ship passengers. No cruise ships visited Bar Harbor last year because of the pandemic, and only one is scheduled for this year. 

The American Cruise Line’s 100-passenger Independence is to visit Bar Harbor seven times between Aug. 15 and Sept. 26. 

So far, 174 cruise ship visits to Bar Harbor are scheduled for 2022 between April 14 and Nov. 10. 

The largest ship currently scheduled, Norwegian Breakaway, with a maximum passenger count of 3,963, is booked for 11 visits. Queen Mary 2, with a passenger capacity of 3,090, is scheduled to visit July 3. 

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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