Cape Hatteras National Seashore visitation for 2019 highest in 16 years

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick beacon in the nation. [Sam Walker photo]

Last year, Cape Hatteras National Seashore saw 2.6 million recreational visits for the first time since 2003.

Since 2015, the seashore has experienced a yearly increase in visitation compared to the previous year. Last year’s visitation was 0.60% higher than visitation in 2018.

Recreation visits by year:
2019: 2,606,632
2018: 2,591,056
2017: 2,433,703
2016: 2,411,711
2015: 2,274,635
2014: 2,153,350

Visitation estimates are collected by counting southbound vehicles just north of the Marc Basnight Bridge and using a multiplier to estimate the total number of passengers heading south. Those estimates are added to the number of passengers going to Ocracoke Island from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter.

Another national park unit within the Outer Banks Group, Wright Brothers National Memorial, saw a 10.9% increase in recreational visits in 2019 versus 2018. The spike in visitation may have partially been a result of the reopening of the park’s renovated visitor center.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.