Acadia National Park is mostly located on Mount Desert Island, where steep rocks alternate with rolling hilltops and picturesque villages. The green island with forests and a mosaic of lakes certainly does not look like a desert.
The east of the US does not have as many national parks as the famous West. But the parks that exist are of unprecedented beauty. Take Acadia National Park in Maine.
Of the villages on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor is the largest in the east. It serves as a base for many tourists. Northeast Harbor is one of the most beautiful places on Maine’s coast. American celebrities know where to find this place. The appeal of Southwest Harbor is the panorama over the south coast of the island and the harbor full of yachts and sailing boats.
Sightseeings in Acadia National Park
On the peninsula of Schoodic, on the mainland of Maine, there is one of the three park parts of Acadia National Park. The eleven kilometer long park road offers beautiful views of the rugged coast. A few kilometers past the picnic area of Frazer Point, a one-and-a-half kilometer walk starts to the 134-meter-high Schoodic Head. Here you look very far away from you on clear days. Along the park road you will find Schoodic Point, where the power of the sea becomes clear, and Blueberry Hill, where you have a view of different islands.
Isle au Haut
Looking for a remote destination? Then opt for the ‘Hoge Eiland’, which consists for half of residential areas and half of parkland. The island is not accessible for motorized traffic and can only be reached by ferry. The boat sails all year round to Town Landing, from where it is still about eight kilometers to the parking entrance. From mid June to early September, a boat sails to Duck Harbor, which is centrally located in Acadia National Park.
Mount Desert Island
The central and largest part of Acadia National Park is located on the 191 km² Mount Desert Island. Below are some attractions.
If you enter the park through the main entrance in the north (Hulls Cove), you will pass the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and you will be right on the 43 km long Loop Road. The Loop Road takes you across the northeast part of Mount Desert Island. There is an intersection three kilometers from the visitor center. If you go straight ahead, you drive to Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond. If you follow the one-way street, you will pass Sieur de Monts, the heart of the park with the Nature Center, the Wild Gardens and the Abbe Museum. Further along are Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, where high waves hit the rocky coast with great violence. In the summer it can be very busy on the Loop Road. Please note that from December to mid-May many roads in the park are closed, including the main part of the Loop Road (including the road to Cadillac Mountain).
Sieur de Monts
At nine kilometers from the Visitor Center and three kilometers from Bar Harbor lies the heart of the park, with the Nature Center, the Wild Gardens and the Abbe Museum as attractions. The Nature Center focuses on the animal and plant kingdom and history is covered in the Abbe Museum. The museum has a second location in Bar Harbor, with attention for the indigenous population. Twelve park landscapes have been collected in the Wild Gardens of Acadia; from mountain peaks to meadows and coastlines.
Jordan Pond, one of Acadia’s most beautiful lakes, is surrounded by mountains. Here you will find the classic view with the ‘Bubbles’ (two mountains). You can hike and canoe, swimming is forbidden. Also try tea with popovers at the Jordan Pond House.
This 466 meter high mountain is the highest on the east coast of the US. It is 5.5 kilometers to the summit, where the 800-meter-long hiking trail is a must. You have a great view of the mountains, islands, forests, lakes and coastline.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Although the Park Road is the most visited in Acadia, you will also find some attractions on the southwest side of the island. On Route 102 is the historic farm Carroll Homestead and at the southernmost rock spot you will find the island’s only lighthouse: the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse from 1858. The Bass Harbor Head Road is not accessible to vehicles longer than 20 feet. Is your camper longer? Free Island Explorer buses run from late June to August. The buses connect the different communities on the island. They drive over the Park Loop Road and to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.
By car or camper you explore Mount Desert Island via the Loop Road. On this route there are spectacular viewpoints and nice walking routes start. A nice stop is Thunder Hole, where high waves hit the coast with a lot of violence. Free shuttle buses run along the Loop Road during the summer.
The name says it all
You can swim at Sand Beach. In the summer there is even a lifeguard on duty.
The Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor region has a variety of things to do during the day as well as late into the evening. Explore areas away from Bar Harbor such as Southwest Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Bass Harbor, Ellsworth, Blue Hill and even the Schoodic Peninsula. There is a wonderful and exciting blend of entertainment and recreation type activities as varied as the terrain such as whale watching, kayaking, hiking, biking, museums, galleries, nightly entertainment, music, theater, shopping, and more.
In order to limit the traffic in Acadia as much as possible, free Island Explorer buses run around from the end of June through August. The buses run between different communities, across the Park Loop Road and to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. On the way you can get in and out at countless stops. From December to mid-May many roads in the park are closed, including the main part of the Park Loop Road (including the road to Cadillac Mountain).
- Mount Desert Island: From Boston take I-95 north to Augusta, Maine, then Route 3 east to Ellsworth, and on to Mount Desert Island. For an alternate route, continue on I-95 north to Bangor, Maine, then take Route 1A east to Ellsworth. In Ellsworth, take Route 3 to Mount Desert Island.
- Schoodic Peninsula: Take I-95 north to Bangor, Maine, then take Route 1A east to Ellsworth. In Ellsworth, head north on U.S. Route 1 for approximately 17.3 miles to Hwy 186. Turn right on Hwy 186 and drive 6.5 miles. Turn left at yield sign, continue .5 miles and turn right on Schoodic Loop Road.
The geographical location of Acadia ensures that it is somewhat more humid on an annual basis than in the interior of New England. The temperatures are pleasant. Maxima are around 20 degrees in spring and autumn, and in summer the mercury rises to 30 degrees. The harsh and cold winters can cause harsh weather conditions, which almost daily life in the park comes to a standstill. In winter, for example, a large part of the road network is closed to traffic.
Fly to Acadia National Park
Find your Stay in the Acadia National Park area
All park visitors are required to pay an entrance fee upon entry May–October. Passes are non-transferable. Credit cards are accepted at all fee collection areas.
Private Vehicle: $30
Valid for seven days
Admits private, non-commercial vehicle (15 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants. If the vehicle pass is purchased, no other pass is necessary. Buy and print your pass online
Valid for seven days
Admits one or two passengers on a private, non-commercial motorcycle. Buy and print your pass online
Per Person: $15
Valid for seven days
Admits one individual with no car (bicyclist, hiker, pedestrian). Youth 15 and under are admitted free of charge. Buy and print your pass online
Annual and Lifetime Passes
Acadia Annual Pass: $55
Valid for 12 months from purchase date. This pass provides access to Acadia National Park only. This pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle. Buy your pass online
The following passes provide access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee, and can be obtained at any park entrance station. A pass admits the holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and pass holder +3 adults at per person fee areas. To purchase a pass online, visit: store.usgs.gov/pass/
Lifetime Senior Pass / Annual Senior Pass / Interagency Annual Pass / Interagency Annual – Military Pass / Interagency Annual Volunteer Pass / Access Pass / Every Kid in a Park 4th Grade Pass
How Your Fees Help the Park
The fees you pay when visiting Acadia make a difference. Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, Acadia keeps 80 percent of all fees collected and uses that money to improve visitor services and fund critical deferred maintenance projects in the park such as:
- Maintain and rehabilitate park carriage roads and hiking trails
- Maintain and repair campgrounds, buildings, and picnic areas
- Maintain and repair paved roads and parking areas
- Improve park accessibility for visitors with disabilities
- Operate and maintain the Island Explorer bus service
- Provide lifeguards at Sand Beach and Echo Lake Beach
- Provide unique interpretive programs
- Support and maintain museum exhibits