Acadia National Park continues to be a popular vacation destination, drawing visitors to the rugged coastline, calm lakes, and quiet woods.
When asked what comes to mind when they think of Maine, people will say lobster, moose, cold, and Acadia National Park, not necessarily in that order. Acadia was the first national park east of the Mississippi and continues to be one of the most heavily visited in the country, a testament to its unique beauty and appeal. To families who vacation in Acadia year after year, their sense of Maine comes from their experiences in Acadia National Park.
Visiting Bar Harbor and Beyond
Bar Harbor is the town most closely associated with Acadia and, although it isn’t part of the park, it can be a convenient base for exploring the park. Large cruise ships dock in Bar Harbor, bringing in thousands of visitors each season, and the town has shops, galleries, and restaurants that cater to all tourists, whether they arrive by land or by sea. Bar Harbor and the surrounding park areas can get quite busy during the summer, but visitors can escape to the “quiet side,” located in the western part of the park, for more solitude.
Unlike many other national parks, there is no “main entrance” to Acadia National Park. Instead of a booth manned by a park ranger, the roads enter and exit the 47,000 acres of park property. Most of the park is located on Mount Desert (pronounced “dessert”) Island and, with a good map, navigating the park is easy. The signage is very clear and there are relatively few roads leading to the key areas of the park.
The view from the over 1,500-foot mountain is spectacular and can be enjoyed by driving or hiking to the top. The road is closed in the winter months for safety.
An amazing natural inlet and cavern carved into the coastal rock which emits a loud booming sound when incoming waves collide with the air in the cavern. The impact sends water high into the air, creating a spectacular and occasionally dangerous situation. Children should be kept well behind the safety ropes.
Jordan Pond House
Sitting on an Adirondack chair on the lawn of the Jordan Pond house provides a sense of what it was like to be a well-to-do vacationer back in the 1800s. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, but it is afternoon tea and popovers that most visitors come for.
Built between 1913 and 1940 and funded by a gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., these roads meander through the park, with gorgeous views around every bend. Cars are not permitted, so walkers, hikers, and bikers have the 45 miles of roads all to themselves.
When to Visit Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is open year-round and each season has something different to recommend it. Summer offers the greatest number of activities and park programs, which may be especially important to families with children. In spring and fall, the crowds drop off but most of the hiking trails are open and the weather is generally pleasant, although variable. The carriage roads that are popular for hiking and biking other times of year become groomed cross-country ski trails in the winter and can also be used for snowshoeing. Ice fishing is also a popular winter pastime in Maine and ice huts start appearing on the lakes around the park as soon as the temperature drops low enough.