Michigan national parks growing in popularity

More than 618,000 people visited Pictured Rocks through August, up about 45,700 from this time in 2017, according to the park service. (National Park Service)

DETROIT — National Park Service figures show that three national parks in Michigan have seen increases in visitor numbers in 2018.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Keweenaw National Historical Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore each have seen attendance grow this year, The Detroit News reported.

More than 618,000 people visited Pictured Rocks through August, up about 45,700 from this time in 2017, according to the park service.

The increase may be due to a busier winter, as well as outdoor-focused campaigns and media outlets, said Susan Reece, the park’s interpretation and education chief. Conde Nast Traveler magazine named Pictured Rocks the most beautiful place in Michigan this year.

“We definitely have been found in a more national spotlight,” Reece said.

Trailspotters of Michigan, an Upper Peninsula-based company that helps outdoor enthusiasts plan outings, has seen more business with the increased crowds.

“My attendance was up 175 percent over last year,” said Tom Funke, the company’s founder and president. “Very busy year for us. I’m tweaking my policies to better deal with this volume.”

Keweenaw had almost 13,400 visitors through August, an increase of about 1,800 compared to last year, while Sleeping Bear Dunes had more than 1.37 million visitors during that time frame, an increase of almost 7,200 visitors.

Not all of Michigan’s national parks saw attendance rise this year, according to the park service. Isle Royale had about 23,600 visitors through August, down about 1,000 visitors compared to last year. River Raisin National Battlefield Park had almost 168,000 visitors in that time, a decrease of about 9,800 from last year.

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