ACADIA NAT’L PARK — For the first time since 2011, the number of park visitors is on track to be slightly lower than the year before.
Through August, visitation was down 2.3 percent to just over 1.93 million. Contributing to that was a 2.7 percent drop in visitors to the Mount Desert Island section of the park and a 3.3 percent decline on the Schoodic Peninsula. Isle au Haut recorded a 3 percent increase in visitation for the first eight months of the year.
The base visitation number for Acadia on MDI does not include a 4.4 percent increase in motor coach and local sightseeing bus passengers for a total of 66,359. It also does not include the 1.1 percent increase in Island Explorer bus riders who were counted as Acadia visitors. Through August, the fare-free Island Explorer system carried an estimated 125,852 passengers into the park.
So far this year, through August, each month’s park visitation number has been slightly lower than for the same month the year before.
For 2011, the last year in which visitation was less than the previous year, the park counted 2.37 million visits. For all of 2018, Acadia had a record 3.58 million visits.
The park calculates visitation each month using three sources of data. One is an electronic traffic counter on the Park Loop Road near Sand Beach. That number is increased 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.
Twenty-five percent of all Island Explorer bus passengers are counted as park visitors.