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March 1, 2019

Steep decline in January visitation at Acadia blamed on several factors

Visitor numbers at Acadia National Park took a steep dive in January.

According to the National Park Service's monthly report, there were 5,832 recreational visitors in the Mount Desert Island section of Acadia in January, a 37.1% decline from January 2018's 9,274.

Automated counters were able to keep tabs on visitor numbers in Acadia, despite the federal government shutdown that lasted through most of January, Christie Anastasia, the park's public affairs specialist, told Mainebiz.

Anastasia said that there are several possible reasons for the decline:

The shutdown, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25, meant limited snow plowing on Park Loop Road, which meant fewer people using the road for driving or walking.

There were seven days of precipitation and 25 days of temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (with seven below 32 degrees), which may have deterred visitors.

Icy conditions may have been another factor.

By comparison, in December there were 10,292 visitors in the Mount Desert Island portion of Acadia, a 6.3% increase over 9,684 in December 2017.

January remains a small portion of the park's overall visitation, with the bulk — 3.1 million of the 3.5 million yearly visitors — arriving from June through October. Typically, July and August are the park's peak months, with a combined total of 1.5 million visitors.

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