Tourists line the Jens Jensen 'curvy road' to Newport in Door County to take in the fall colors. Dave Krunnfusz photo

EGG HARBOR — What could be the busiest stretch of an already busy summer has crowds flocking to Door County, putting added stress on residents and the local workforce still bouncing back from the pandemic.

Employees at some local shops say this is the busiest summer they remember, with visitors coming to Door County who may have missed a vacation last year because of the pandemic.

And with autumn festival season in full swing, this could be the busiest time of year of all.

Sandwiched between Egg Harbor’s Pumpkin Patch Festival, which wrapped up Sunday, and this weekend’s Sister Bay Fall Festival, lodging and dinner reservations are hard to come by.

Local scenic attractions have become nearly overrun as well.

Photos from Dave Krunnfusz posted to Facebook Sunday show Wisconsin Highway 42, the Jens Jensen curvy road from Gills Rock to Northport, lined with parked cars and visitors standing in the road to take photos and see the fall colors.

At the popular Cave Point County Park, cars parked along the road reportedly impeded emergency vehicles at least once this summer.

Local tourism and economic development groups have been struggling with the impact of the growth in tourism.

In June, seven panelists and around 75 participants took to Zoom to discuss whether Door County is “at capacity” for tourism in a panel hosted by Door County Environmental Council.

Solomon Lindenberg, a local writer and a journalism student at DePaul University in Chicago, emphasized that overtourism isn’t just an issue of wanting fewer people around or the county losing its “quaintness,” but rather the effect of it on labor, housing, culture and the environment, according to a story in the Green Bay Press Gazette.

A September 2019 report by the council noted the affect of social media on tourism.

“Not only are business trends contributing to turning paradise into paradise lost, social media is at work as well, with Instagram and Facebook pages and groups leading tourists to clog vital roadways in search of the perfect photo, and sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google making restaurants, hotels, beaches, lighthouses, and parks more ‘discoverable’ and thus ‘ruinable.’”

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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.