With correction, Glacier visitation was just under 3 million

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Jason Mills heads up Logan Pass to carve some turns on the opening morning of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Glacier National Park has revised its visitation estimate for 2016 to nearly 3 million visitors, after it was discovered that traffic counters didnít always work last summer.

Year to date, the Park now says it had 2,933,804 visitors through November. Before the correction, it said there were about 2.82 million people through November.

The traffic counter at the West Entrance was the biggest culprit. It wasnít working properly 10 of the 30 days in June.

As such, the Park has revised the June numbers by about 55,000 visitors.

Originally, the Park had estimated about 429,909 visitors in June. With the revised numbers, that estimate zoomed to a little more than 485,000.

The West Entrance counter also missed 12 days in April, two days in May, 2.2 days in September and .2 of a day in October. The Camas Road counter was off, too. It didnít work properly one day in June and 1.6 days in October.

The Park recently discovered the error. Spokeswoman Lauren Alley said the Park doesnít know why the counters malfunctioned, but the Park is taking steps to make sure the errors are caught sooner in the future.

Pamela Sue Ziesler, of the Park Serviceís visitor use statistics program in Denver, said itís not uncommon for a counter to not work properly. The counter is an electronic device with a wire placed under the pavement. When a car goes over the wire, itís counted. But there are a host of ways things can go wrong, from battery failure to transmission problems. The Parkís main entrances transmit the data to the Denver offices.

The Park Service uses a multiplier for each vehicle. Glacierís multiplier is 2.9 people per car. They donít count individual people. They also adjust the numbers for Park personnel coming in and out of the Park, so they arenít counted as visitors.

Itís not an exact science, Ziesler noted, but it is pretty sophisticated for the Park Service.

The Park initially said June 2016 had about 3.67 percent more people than June 2015. With the correction, the number zoomed to more than 16 percent. Even with the glitch, Glacier saw record visitation for the year.

November alone saw 30,823, visitors this year, the most since 1985, when 36,941 people turned the gates.

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