2018-02-01 / Local News

Lakeshore attendance a close second to record

Close but second, which isn’t bad at all.

A somewhat slow November caused a blip in attendance marks at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where season-long visitation came ever-so-close to setting a third straight annual record.

“We knew we would need a big start to the winter in November and December, and we didn’t get there,” said Tom Ulrich, deputy superintendent. “We had a big December, but with November being only slightly above average, it put us in position of needing that many more visitors in December.”

Novembers and Decembers represent only a tiny share of visitation, which hit 1,678,126 in 2017. The record, set in 2016, remains 1,683,553.

Attendance came in at 17,839 in November, about 10,000 visitors behind the same month in 2016. December visitation finished at 9,279, ahead of the previous year but not enough to set an annual record for 2017.

Ulrich brushed aside the near miss, pointing to the bigger priorities of the National Park Service.

“But we aren’t out to break records, so it wasn’t a disappointment,” he said. “The important thing is people really love this place. We’re doing something right in preserving this awesome park and making it a good place to visit.”

Although 2017 didn’t break the annual record, it was able to set high marks in four months: February (15,257), April (38,522), July (561,784) and September (185,716).

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