ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
Acadia is an undisputed jewel of the national park system. It’s why many visitors come to Maine from all over the world in the first place. This 47,000-acre shining gem was the first national park established east of the Mississippi. And it's now one of the top 10 most visited national parks in America. Given Acadia’s popularity, a trip to this dreamland in the high season does require some advance planning. To cut down on congestion and protect the park, the Park Service requires advanced reservations for certain activities. According to the National Park Service:
- Tentative dates for required vehicle reservations for Cadillac Summit Road are June 23 through Oct 22, 2023.
- Vehicle reservation sales are tentatively set to open on a rolling basis starting on March 25, 2023.
- Vehicle reservations are sold on a rolling basis. Thirty percent are made available 90 days ahead of each date. The remaining 70 percent are released at 10 am ET two days ahead.
Find more information about reservations here.
The Island Explorer offers a free, clean propane-fueled bus service through the park and downtown Bar Harbor to cut down on traffic and parking pressures. It is even equipped with a bike rack! Find more information about the Island Explorer here.
Inside Acadia National Park, you’ll see stunners at every turn: Dramatic granite cliffs plunging down to the churning Atlantic, home to humpback and finback whales; and sprawling pink stone ledges leading to water of the deepest blue. You can swim or paddle in a crystal-clear mountain lake, hike to stunning bald summits that rise dramatically from the sea, and navigate around fascinating “glacial erratics” - huge boulders that were churning up and left behind by ancient glaciers. It’s an unbelievable park.
For all of Acadia’s natural features, it’s the man-made features that give us access to these exhilarating sights. You’ll notice the tremendous stone steps, grading carriage roads, and blazed footpaths, as well as the iron rungs and railings along some of the steeper, more exposed terrain.
There are different places to make your home base for exploring Acadia, whatever your speed. The bustling town of Bar Harbor is home to world-class restaurants and inns. Southwest Harbor is Mount Desert Island’s quieter side. Ellsworth is about a 30-minute drive to Bar Harbor and is worth exploring as well. Whether you are looking for a cottage on the water or a hotel room for the whole family, find the perfect place to stay in DownEast Acadia here.
While MDI is home to some of Acadia’s “greatest hits,” just a little further north on Route 1 lies Acadia’s lesser-known but no less spectacular Schoodic section. Schoodic has its own gorgeous loop road and hiking trails, a top-notch campground, and a neighboring town with tons of charm: the fishing village of Winter Harbor. At Schoodic Point, you can walk out on enormous pink granite rocks, listen to the thunderous surf, and take in a staggeringly good view of Cadillac Mountain across the channel.
With advanced planning, book a ride on the ferry from Stonington to Isle Au Haut, a beautiful island that’s part of the national park. The typical day tripper to Isle Au Haut can expect to spend about four hours on the island if you take the morning ferry. And you might have the hiking trails all to yourself!