CAMDEN, Maine — Acadia National Park’s loss is Camden Hills State Park’s gain.
John Greim of Pennsylvania and other family members had planned to make their first visit to Acadia this week. They were on their way there when the park was closed due to the partial federal government shutdown.
“We knew it was a possibility but we thought it would be settled at the last minute,” Greim said.
So Greim and his family members ended up instead at the campground at Camden Hills State Park in Camden.
“We had been looking forward to seeing Acadia and climbing Cadillac Mountain,” he said. “But Congress decided to punish the taxpayers and close it.”
Greim said, however, that he and his wife found Camden Hills to be a beautiful place to visit.
Camden Hills Park Manager Bill Elliot said Friday the campground is substantially busier this week and he attributes at least some of the increased business to the closure of Acadia. The federal shutdown started Tuesday.
“The most obvious increase in the park this week has been at the campground,” Elliot said.
There are 106 campsites at the Camden facility and during this time of the year, there are typically 25 to 30 sites occupied on a weekday, he said. This week, 60 sites have been in use daily, Elliot said.
Many of the visitors are from the East Coast, he said. Camden Hills has likely seen the jump in business because it is located on Route 1, along the road that most visitors heading to Acadia would take. He said many campers in the past have come to Camden Hills for a night before heading to Acadia.
Campers Dave and Kathy VanNote of North Conway, N.H., also were on their way to Acadia when the shutdown took effect. The VanNotes, however, are familiar with Camden Hills, having spent a lot of time at the park in past years.
He said he has noticed how much busier the Camden Hills campground has been this week than in past years when they have visited.
Dave VanNote said that having to spend the week at Camden Hills was not a disappointment because he and his wife love the area.
“For us it was only an inconvenience,” he said. He expressed concern, however, for people in the Acadia area who have been harmed by the loss of business due to that park’s closure.
“I’m disappointed in our dysfunctional government. This was unnecessarily precipitated by a handful of members on the House side,” VanNote said.
The park manager said he hopes to keep the Camden Hills campground open until Nov. 1, depending on the weather. When the temperatures plunge into the 20s, the water pipes at the sites have to be drained for the winter.
In addition to the campground, the 5,700-acre Camden Hills State Park has 30 miles of hiking trails. The summit of Mount Battie is a popular tourist and local destination.