Acadia National Park: A Visitor’s Guide

Acadia National Park

acadia national park
R’lyeh Imaging/Flickr/CC by 2.0

Acadia National Park was first founded as Sieur de Monts National Monument on July 8, 1916, then established as Lafayette National Park on February 26, 1919, and changed to Acadia National Park on January 19, 1929. The park’s rich cultural history includes various indigenous peoples and successive waves of French and English immigrants. Acadia National Park features coastal and island landscapes including mountains, lakes, and thick hardwood and evergreen forests. Explore the area’s natural beauty and cultural ties on trails and roads that cut through the parks.

arrow-icon  Phone Number: 207-276-3316

arrow-icon  Park Hours:  Park opens daily but most scenic roads close in winter.

arrow-icon  When to Go: Busiest: July-August. Least crowded: January-February.

arrow-icon  Helpful Links:

arrow-icon  What to Do: Hiking, Bicycling, Cross-country skiing, rock climbing, swimming, boating fishing, wildlife viewing, bird-watching.

arrow-icon  Facilities: Visitor center, Nature Center, Historical Museum, Hiking Trails, Picnic Tables with fire grills, Gift Shop, and restrooms.

arrow-icon  Programs/Events: Daily ranger-guided walks, hikes, talks, demonstrations, amphitheater programs, and boat cruises (late May-mid-Oct.).

  See Photos

arrow-icon  Address: Entrance Station, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

arrow-icon  Directions: Choose Starting Poinnational parks

arrow-icon  Number of Visitors/Year:
3,537,575 (Year 2018)

arrow-icon  Fees and Permits: To enter Acadia National Park, you must purchase and display a weekly, annual, or lifetime pass. A weekly pass for a private vehicle $30, Motorcycle $25, per person $15 (one individual with no car). Annual pass $55. The cost of a lifetime pass varies.

  Accessibility: The visitor centers, area museums, Picnic areas, some campgrounds, stores, restaurants, and beaches are wheelchair-accessible to various degrees.

arrow-icon  Pets: The park features areas and trails that are pet-friendly and restricted or closed to pets. Pets must be restrained on a 6 feet leash, never left unattended, and owners are responsible for removing pet waste.


arrow-icon  Birds of Acadia National Park (with sounds)

arrow-icon  Wildlife fo Acadia National Park (Mammals)

Major Attractions

Take a walk or a bicycle Ride on a Carriage Road: Acadia National Park features up to 45 miles of carriage roads, which are dirt and gravel roads and paths where vehicles are not allowed. Carriage roads also have multiple viewpoints and afford a quiet way to explore the park looking for birds and other wildlife. Carriage roads can be short loops or long roads of multiple types of substrates and grades of difficulty.

Visit the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse: One of the most iconic sites, and one that often appears in postcards and photos of Acadia National Park, is the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Explore the southwest Mount Desert Island, the Southwest Harbor and the Bass Head Lighthouse. One can take photographs of the lighthouse from adjacent trails, but the lighthouse itself is not open to the public.

Visit the Jordan Pond House: The Jordan Pond House is the only restaurant within the park. Enjoy an indoor or outdoor treat. The Jordan Pond House can be accessed via the Park Loop Road, as well as, via one of the several Carriage Roads. The Jordan Pond House gets very busy (and can be frustrating) during the months of July through August.

Take a ride on the Park Loop Road: The 27-mile Park Loop Road is one of the park’s major attractions. The road has a designated stopover that highlights the scenic beauty of the park. This road goes by several trailheads and other park highlights such as the Jordan Pond House, Otter Cliff, Thunder Hole, and Sand Beach. The Park Loop Road is closed from December 1 through mid-April. Some parts of the road have vehicle size restrictions.

Walk the Ocean Path and stop at the Thunder Hole: The 2-mile Ocean Path between Sand Beach and Otter Cliff is a pleasant walk along the rocky shores of the park. Stop at the Thunders Hole located along this path.

The Thunder Hole is a channel or ally carved into the park’s rocky shore. During high swells, waves crash into the channel and cave inside causing a thunder-like sound and splash worth experiencing. From the parking lot, proceed down the concrete path down to the Thunder Hole.

Visit the Cadillac Mountain: Rising 1,530 feet above sea level, the Cadillac Mountain is the highest point in one of the park’s most popular sites. The top of the mountain affords some impressive views of the ocean and surrounding mountains. Many trails, carriage roads, and the Park Loop Road lead or run by the Cadillac Mountain, which can be crowded during the months of July and August.

Hike a Trail: There are many trails of varying levels of difficulty from the rather demanding Beehive Trail to the short and flat Ocean Path. One can plan to hike easier portions of trails and carriage roads avoiding the difficult and strenuous parts.

Tip: You may want to avoid visiting the park between 10-2 in the summer because of the crowds. Visit late May-early June for wildflowers. If you enjoy birds, late May and early June is the best time for migrating warblers. The first half of October is goof for fall foliage and raptor migration.

Acadia National Park’s Summary Reviews

The following are summaries of actual reviews made by visitors to the park.

What is good:

One of my top 5 favorite national parks (and I have been to the majority of them).

The entire Park is covered with transit bus routes that are free due to corporate sponsors. Consider parking at one of the bus lots and using hop-on/hop-off service.

Great places to explore. Trails wind their way up the mountains. Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond were absolutely beautiful.

Acadia National Park is one of the premier parks of the US National Park systems though it does not have the dramatic grandeur of the Grand Canyon or Yosemite nor the sense of rush and crowd pressure of Yellowstone!

Carriage paths provide ample opportunity to explore flora and fauna either walking, cycling, or even riding in a horse-drawn carriage.

A United States treasure. Beautiful vistas of ocean and mountains. Easy to difficult hiking trails. Truly a great park.

What is not so good:

Bathrooms were poorly maintained. If you are going to charge $30.00 per vehicle then you can at least have someone on duty to clean the bathrooms.

Some of the vertical hiking on Beehive, Precipice, and Jordan’s Pond among others are not for everyone. You need good physical fitness to make portions of these trails safely.

Too many tourists and cars. We could not do some of the trails because the parking lots were full. Long weekends during the high season are awful.

Very poor signage and media communication i.e.: maps, road signs, trail signs, travel info. No signs on the trails telling you how far you are from the next “attraction”.

The entrance fee was fairly expensive. You would think the museum would be free, but nope! everything costs.

The beach doesn’t even have a shower. The water is ice cold and there are too many flies flying around. Horrible experience.

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