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More and more people are visiting Acadia National Park during the shoulder seasons

Hikers work their way up the Beehive in Acadia National Park in early Oct. 2022.
Esta Pratt-Kielley
Maine Public
Hikers work their way up the Beehive in Acadia National Park in early Oct. 2022.

Acadia National Park officials are reporting an increasing number of visitors during the shoulder seasons.

They said 45% of Acadia visitors are now coming to the park during the late spring and fall, a 10% increase from a decade ago.

Visitation during the "off seasons" is 25% higher than summer visitation was 10 years ago, park officials said.

Park officials say September has become an especially popular month to visit, and that trend could continue as warmer temperatures extend well into the fall months.

Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider said if these trends continue, they could have implications for its seasonal workforce, which usually starts in mid-to-late May and leaves around Labor Day.

"We need to keep our seasonal employees, really we need them to start in April or May, and we need them to stay into October, because that's really where our visitation is," Schneider said Monday during a meeting of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission.

At the same time, the park is gearing up for what it believes will be another difficult hiring season.

The park was shorthanded last summer by 30-to-50 seasonal employees, as 2022 was the second busiest year in Acadia history.

Schneider said the park, which pays federal wages of $17-to-$22 an hour for seasonal summer employees, is struggling to compete with local employers. Some local businesses are able to offer housing to their seasonal workers, but Schneider said Acadia's employee housing is limited.

"We're working internally to try to add some beds," he said. "We're renovating a few housing units to put a bedroom in a basement or put a bedroom in a sunroom, for example. We're working with Friends of Acadia carefully to look at trying to create some additional housing capacity."

A recent federal government spending bill included a measure that authorizes a transfer of National Park Service land for the purposes of building more workforce housing, but construction is likely years away.