With good weather and a lot of passing time since the earlier caterpillar infestation, Prince George outdoor tourist attractions are hoping for an autumn rebound.
For many, the fall season is Prince George's best time of year. Organizers for many attractions around the area are wishing for a flood of interest especially from local people taking final advantage of the year's warmer temperatures.
"Spring was a little slow, then it picked up when teachers were doing field trips in May and June, then it dropped with caterpillar season, but lately it has really been bouncing back again," said Ranjit Gill, executive director of the Railway and Forestry Museum.
Her optimism is due to the fact that this year's attendance stats are better than 2012.
Krystal Leason, operations manager for the Historic Huble Homestead, also said the first part of the tourist season was a bit slow but also not the worst they've seen.
"The numbers aren't right in front of me but it's on par with last year, which is very encouraging after the slow start we got," she said, blaming rain and caterpillars for the spring slump.
"Maybe we're a little down on the day to day visitors but the school visits are up again. We did have a lot of Americans, which is good to see," she added.
It was a tougher outdoor tourism season this year for Jim Good of Goodsir Nature Park. He said in the early stages of the tourist season he could count the number of visitors on one hand.
"I don't know what all the factors are for that, but perhaps the caterpillars played a role, perhaps the price of gas, but we have had only a fraction of our usual attendance," said Good. He used the time during the downturn to upgrade the facility.
"They went from rustic forest trails to more like national park dimensions, six to 10 feet wide," he said. "It makes it a lot easier to see the features of the trails, see the other people coming down the trails. I wanted to make them all wheelchair accessible but that is just too much work for one person in one season. It is still definitely on the high priority list, for things I'd love the park to have." It would help people with strollers, too, but the trails are quite easygoing for most people now."
Gill agreed that when times are slow, that's when you invest in improvements that will help the bottom line. The Railway and Forestry Museum is in the process of installing a roof over some weather-sensitive exhibits and also a raised boardwalk so people with mobility challenges can still look in the windows of the passenger car that Prince Charles and Lady Diana once stayed in.
"This year I have more summer students, more volunteers, and that translates into making the park more attractive. The public notices that," she said.
Tourism Prince George's CEO Aidan Kelly said outdoor tourism is key to Prince George's tourism sucess.
"We're exceptionally lucky to have a vast amount of outdoor experiences within a 15 minute drive of our downtown core," Kelly said. "It really helps to reinforce our brand position of urban and wilderness elements side by side."