Acadia National Park
Located on the rugged coast of Maine, Acadia National Park encompasses over 47,000 acres of granite-domed mountains, woodlands, lakes and ponds, and ocean shoreline. Such diverse habitats create striking scenery and make the park a haven for wildlife and plants.
Entwined with the natural diversity of Acadia is the story of people. Evidence suggests native people first lived here at least 5,000 years ago. Subsequent centuries brought explorers from far lands, settlers of European descent, and, arising directly from the beauty of the landscape, tourism and preservation.
Attracted by the paintings and written works of the rusticators, artists who portrayed the beauty of Mount Desert Island in their works, the affluent of the turn of the century flocked to the area. Though they came in search of social and recreational activities, these early conservationists had much to do with preserving the landscape. George B. Dorr, the park's first superintendent, came from this social strata. He devoted 43 years of his life, energy, and family fortune to preserving the Acadia landscape. Thanks to the foresight of Dorr and others like him, Acadia became the first national park established east of the Mississippi.
Today the park offers scientific, educational, and recreational activities unparalleled along the east coast. Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain to enjoy a spectacular sunrise over Frenchman's Bay or explore some of the quieter, more secluded mountain paths. Bike over 40 miles of the tree-lined carriage roads that wind over hillsides and near glassy lakes. Join a ranger to experience Acadia's resources first-hand. Or just admire the views and let yourself unwind, knowing you're taking part in a long-standing tradition.
A number of lakes and ponds on Mount Desert Island permit boating. Canoes, kayaks, sailboats and motorboats can be rented in surrounding communities. A variety of commercial vessels offer ferry service, fishing, nature cruises, sailing, and whale watching excursions. Ranger-led boat tours area also available. For schedules and locations, check the park newspaper or ask at a visitor center.
Although Park Loop Road is open to cyclists, most opt to explore park's Carriage Roads, which are closed to auto traffic. The roads, which wind through the eastern half of the island, are lined with broken stone and some sections are more suitable for mountain bikes than racing ones. Bikes are not allowed on hiking trails or off of designated roads. For more information, please pick up a copy of a park map. Bicycle guides are available for a fee at Hulls Cove Visitor Center. Bicycles can be rented in Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor.
Acadia's Park Loop Road, a 20-mile, two-lane thoroughfare winds through the eastern half of Mount Desert Island, provides access to many of the park's attractions. It is accessible from Hulls Cove, Cadillac Mountain, Sieur de Monts and Stanley Brook entrances. While you can drive the loop in under an hour, most visitors find that it takes at least a half-day to take in all that this scenic route has to offer.
BUS TOURS Narrated bus tours from Bar Harbor run May through October. Learn about the natural and cultural history of the park and surrounding area. Stops include many popular park sights, including Cadillac Mountain.
Acadia National Park Tours offers 2.5-hour narrated bus tours through the park, including three 15-minute stops (one on Cadillac Mountain). For reservations and more information, call 207-288-0300 or visit acadiatours.com. Oli's Trolley offers one hour and 2.5-hour narrated trolley tours through the park, including a stop at the top of Cadillac Mountain. Board trolleys in downtown Bar Harbor. For reservations and more information, call 207-288-9899 or visit acadiaislandtours.com.
The two primary park campgrounds on Mount Desert Island are Blackwoods Campground and Seawall Campground. All sites are wooded and within a 10-minute walk of the ocean; no sites are located on the water. The majority of sites are for tents, small and large, but other sites accommodate pop-ups, vehicle campers, and RVs up to 35 feet. A maximum of one vehicle and six people is allowed at each site. There are no hook-ups. Campground facilities include comfort stations, cold running water, dump station, picnic tables, fire rings, and water faucets (facilities at Blackwoods differ in the winter). Seasonal showers and camping supply stores are located within 1/2 mile of the campground.
A third campground, Wildwood Stables Campground, is open only to visitors with stock animals.
There is no backcountry camping in Acadia. Primitive camping is available at Duck Harbor Campground, located on Isle au Haut. Private campgrounds are located just outside the park and offer additional camping opportunities.
Acadia National Park offers a variety of fine climbs on small cliffs created during the last continental glaciation. Most of these cliffs are composed of solid coarse-grained pink granite. The longest routes are three pitches. Otter Cliffs and Great Head provide a spectacular setting for sea cliff climbing not commonly available elsewhere in the U.S.
Good bouldering can be found along the ocean between Sand Beach and Otter Cliffs, and near Blackwoods Campground.
Freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities abound in Acadia National Park and the surrounding area. Lakes and ponds can have several species of freshwater game fish, including trout, landlocked salmon, smallmouth and largemouth bass and other species. Ocean species include mackerel, bluefish and striped bass. Freshwater fishing requires a State of Maine fishing license, as determined by state law. A license is not required to fish in the ocean.
Acadia is a hiker's paradise. Within the park, 125 miles of trails offer choices for all abilities and interests -- from flat rambles across meadows to challenging climbs up iron rungs. Terrain varies from rugged shoreline and deep woods to open mountain summits with views of the ocean and outer islands. For those who prefer more level footing, 45 miles of carriage roads are excellent for walking.
Forty-five miles of rustic carriage roads, the gift of philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. and family, weave around the mountains and valleys of Acadia National Park. Most of those roads are still available for horseback travel either on a carriage ride from Wildwood Stables or on a horse of your own. For more information or reservations, call (877) 276-3622 or visit carriagesofacadia.com.
Be sure to pick up a copy of the Carriage Road User's Map to better identify the trails, routes, and roads where horses are permitted.
The park contains many good spots to sit down, enjoy the view and have a quick lunch. Tables and fireplaces are available at the park's picnic areas at Bear Brook, Fabbri, Frazer Point (Schoodic), Pretty Marsh, Seawall, Thompson Island. They're first-come, first-served; no reservations are accepted.
SWIMMING: Acadia National Park has two beaches staffed with lifeguards during the summer season: * Sand Beach, located off Park Loop Road, offers ocean swimming. The water temperature rarely exceeds 55 degrees (13 degrees Celsius). * Echo Lake Beach, on the west side of the island, offers a somewhat warmer swimming experience.
Many other lakes and ponds on the island are public water supplies where swimming, wading, and pets are prohibited. Please respect posted regulations.
TIDEPOOLING: Barnacles, mussels, sea stars, anemones, and sometimes even crabs or young lobsters are found in the intertidal zone. Before you head out to the intertidal zone on your own, check the Beaver Log from June through October for a tide chart. The best times for tidepooling are the extreme low tides of the full and new moons ("spring" tides). If you have young children, the gravel bar that connects Bar Island to Mount Desert Island in Bar Harbor, off Bridge Street, offers the easiest access. The bar is accessible about 1.5 hours on either side of low tide. Other locations include Ship Harbor and Wonderland on the west side of Mount Desert Island. Be careful, as rocks may be slippery.
Scenic Driving: Although most of the Park Loop Road is closed in winter, two short sections remain open. The scenic, one-way ocean section, accessible from Schooner Head Road one mile south of downtown Bar Harbor on Route 3, stretches for two miles along the coast. Stay in the right lane, as snowmobiles are permitted to use the unplowed left lane. Exit this section via Otter Cliff Road to Route 3. You can access the Jordan Pond Road, just north of the town of Seal Harbor. This road joins the Park Loop Road, which is plowed to the south end of Jordan Road. Exit by backtracking. Sargaent Drive to Northeast Harbor and Route 102A to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse also offer scenic views.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing: The park's 45 miles of carriage roads offer the perfect setting for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Ski tracks are sometimes laid down by volunteers on sections of the carriage roads when snowfall exceeds four inches. The park maintains a list of grooming status for these sections of the carriage roads. Please do not snowshoe or allow dogs to walk in cross-country ski tracks. Dogs must be on a leash six feet or shorter.
You may also cross-country ski or snowshoe on unplowed park roads. Be careful, as snowmobiles are also permitted to use most of these unplowed park roads. Skiing on hiking trails is not recommended because of the uneven and steep nature of trails, ice falls blocking the path, and trail routes obscured by snow. Ski equipment and rentals are available in local communities; chambers of commerce can provide the names of outfitters.
Snowmobiling: Snowmobile travel is allowed on the 27-mile Park Loop Road system (including the road up Cadillac Mountain) and most fire roads. Only two miles of carriage roads are open to snowmobilers as connector trails (the east side of Eagle Lake and short portion near the Wildwood Stables). Maps of the east side and west side of Mount Desert Island show snowmobile routes and parking. Snowmobilers are encouraged to utilize the Hulls Cove Visitor Center parking lot to access the winter snowmobile routes. Snowmobile rental is not available on Mount Desert Island.
Winter Hiking: Acadia's trails become icy and/or snowpacked in winter. Be prepared for unfavorable conditions and early darkness. If you are considering hiking in Acadia during the winter months, be sure to follow these winter hiking guidelines.
Ice Fishing: Ice fishing is a popular activity in Acadia when weather conditions permit.
Winter Camping: From December 1 to March 31, a limited number of campsites at Blackwoods Campground are available for primitive camping only. During this time campers must first obtain a camping permit from the dispatch office (open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily) at park headquarters on Route 233 west of Bar Harbor. Facilities are limited to a hand pump for water and a portable toilet. The campground entrance road is closed to automobiles during this time; campers are required to hike in from the campground entrance on Route 3. Campers must pack out all trash and be prepared for extreme weather conditions and must be self sufficient.
Dog Sledding and Skijoring: With the exception of the park's carriage roads, the use of dog sleds, dog carts, and skijoring with dogs is permitted on all closed motor roads and fire roads under the following conditions: * Dog sleds may be pulled by no more than four dogs, with a combined tow and tug line of not more than 12 feet. Sleds must be equipped with a braking system, and in the winter, with one snow hook. * Skijorers must utilize a commercially manufactured skijor belt with quick release and tugline. The tugline should be equipped with a built-in shock cord, and may not exceed a combined length of 10 feet. Skijorers may use up to two dogs, which must be harnessed with either an "X" or "H" harness. A simple dog collar is not considered a harness.
Acadia National Park is open all year. Information is available at park headquarters all year and at Hulls Cove Visitor Center from April 15 through October.
Most facilities--including the visitor center, museums, picnic areas, Seawall Campground, and many roads--close during the winter. Most of the Park Loop Road, including the road to Cadillac Mountain, is closed from December 1 through April 14 and at other times when severe weather creates dangerous conditions.
Eastern National provides quality educational products and services to the visitors to Acadia, as well as America's national parks and other public trusts. The association's contributions have benefited parks and visitors by supporting research, educational, and interpretive projects and by funding publications.
At Acadia, Eastern National manages the bookstore at Hulls Cove Visitor Center, the Nature Center, Islesford Museum, Blackwoods and Seawall Campgrounds, and park headquarters. Joining Eastern National supports your parks and gives you a 15% discount on merchandise in any Eastern National store.(215) 283-6900
The only dining facility in the park, Jordan Pond House Restaurant serves lunch, afternoon tea and dinner in the dining room or on the porch. Seating is also available at picnic tables on the lawn. Stop in for famous baked popovers and homemade ice cream, fresh Maine seafood, and the finest poultry, meats and vegetables.
The restaurant is open from mid-May through October. For more information and reservations, please call (207) 276-3316 or visit thejordanpondhouse.com.(207) 276-3316
Acadia National Park is located approximately six hours north of Boston. From Boston take I-95 north to Augusta, Maine; from Augusta take Route 3 east to Ellsworth and on to Mount Desert Island or take I-95 north to Bangor, Maine; from Bangor take Route 1A east to Ellsworth; from Ellsworth take Route 3 to Mount Desert Island.
Fly into Hancock County Airport, located 10 miles from Acadia National Park. National airlines serve the Bangor International Airport, about 1 hour from the park. Car rentals are available at both airports.
Concord Trailways and Vermont Transit offer service between Boston's Logan Airport and Bangor. Vermont Transit operates between Bangor and Bar Harbor during the summer months.