2017-08-31 / Views

Thoughts on the busiest summer ever

How much more popular can Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore get?

We’re about to find out. Visitation for the first seven months at the National Park set a new mark — for the third straight year — and we expect the trend to continue.

By now the Lakeshore has hosted its millionth visitor earlier than ever before. Through July, the National Park had entertained 56,000 more people than the previous year, which was a record. Before that, 2015 held the seven-month record.

Common sense might dictate that visitation for a beach area would slip with cooler and somewhat rainy weather — as we have had — but that thought lacks a sense of history.

Tourism in Leelanau began more than a century ago when pollution and heat pushed those with means to send their families on steamships and trains north for summers. Leelanau’s “coolness” was a draw long before the word was coined as slang, and continues so today.

Of course, “cool” also describes recreational opportunities in the Lakeshore.

Consequently, Sleeping Bear Dunes — and Leelanau County — has been busier than we ever recall.

Thank goodness.

No, we don’t plan to wallow in pity, not with Labor Day upon us. Leelanau’s economy is based on tourism. And our vision of “crowded” is based on the last decade. Our grandparents hold a different perspective.

So enjoy a relatively quiet September, fellow Leelanauts. Prepare for “fall peepers.”

And then, like a sleeping bear, renew over a long winter.

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