PATTEN — The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument has more than 80,000 acres of land around the region. The outdoor activities offered in the area are attracting many visitors this summer.
“It’s definitely been different this year,” said Lindsay Downing, owner of Mt. Chase Lodge. “We didn’t really know what to expect going into the summer, and we were kind of, quite honestly, planning for the worst.”
Just like many others, Downing was nervous for her business during the spring when people weren’t making reservations at the lodge due to COVID-19, but that turned around in June.
“Once we opened up in June to Maine residents, we were very pleasantly surprised with how many people were coming up and traveling up here and wanting to get away from the COVID reality,” Downing said.
Downing said the Mt. Chase Lodge has been busier than it has been in the last four years with Mainers looking to travel within the state to somewhere they can be outdoors.
“Folks are looking to be in the wilderness, and it’s right here,” Downing said. “It’s a very quick drive for anybody to get up here, you know. We’re two hours north of Bangor.”
According to Downing, many people who visit her lodge take trips to Baxter State Park and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
Jeanne Roy, the chief of interpretation at the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, said it looks like visitations to the monument may have been up by about 10% in June.
“There are the opportunities to get outside and recreate responsibly here at the monument,” Roy said.
Aug. 24 marks the four-year anniversary of the designation of the monument.
“This year is the first year that there are highway signs, and so we think it might be easier for people to find their way to the monument now, so we were thinking that might contribute to a little bit of an increase in visitation,” Roy said.
Roy is encouraging visitors to maintain social distancing while at the monument.