Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Featured Park: Acadia National Park

September 3, 2009, 8:47 am
At Acadia National Park, located on the rock-bound Maine island of Mount Desert, you will find soaring granite cliffs butting up against sand and cobblestone beaches. Glacier-carved mountains rear up from the sea, cupping deep lakes in their valleys. Here, too, are meadowlands, marshes and dense evergreen forests. Everywhere, the ocean makes its presence felt, whether by sight, sound or smell.
 
Since it opened in 1916, Acadia National Park has boasted a number of firsts. It was the first national park established east of the Mississippi. Perhaps more significantly, it was the first national park whose land was donated entirely by private citizens.
 
Acadia encompasses more than 47,000 acres, the vast majority of it on Mount Desert Island (pronounced like “dessert”). About 165 species of native plants, about 60 species of land and marine mammals, and more than 150 breeding species of birds call the park home.
 
The park boasts varied and dramatic scenery including a coastline of chiseled granite, the ocean dotted with islands, 17 mountain peaks (that together constitute the highest headlands along the eastern seaboard), close to a dozen glacial lakes and ponds, and Somes Sound, the only fjord (a glacially carved, u-shaped valley bordered by steep cliffs) in the contiguous 48 states.
 
In shape, Mount Desert Island resembles a lobster claw. Many of Acadia’s best-known attractions are on the eastern side of the “claw,” which is separated from the western side by Somes Sound. The park’s western half features five mountains, numerous salt marshes and nature trails, and some of the best birdwatching in New England. The remainder of Acadia National Park consists of the dazzling Schoodic Peninsula and several offshore islands, including Baker Island and remote Isle au Haut.
 
Visitors can enjoy naturalist-guided walks and talks, biking, fishing, carriage rides, boat cruises, hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing and ice fishing. Most of Acadia’s paved roads and 45 miles of picturesque carriage roads are open to bicycles, and more than 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads weave through the park.
 
The historic Jordan Pond House, located on Park Loop Road, is famous for its baked popovers, homemade ice cream, fresh Maine seafood, and traditional afternoon tea. There are more than 500 campsites in the park, and visitors can find a variety of accommodations and a total of 4,500 rooms surrounding the park on Mount Desert Island.