If you plan on adventuring to New England this fall, it’s worth making a trip to Acadia National Park, which is the only national park in the northeast. This park was inhabited by Native Americans over 5,000 years ago, who survived off the land by hunting, fishing, and collecting plants and berries. French and English settlers arrived not too long after. In the 1800s, settlers began shipbuilding, farming, and lumbering on the landscape and artists created paintings of the coast’s beauty. Located on Mount Desert Island, protecting the land became a priority. In 1929, it was officially named Acadia National Park and is now one of the top 10 most visited national parks in the U.S.
Know Before You Go
Visitors aged 16 and over are required to have a park entrance pass to get into the park, which needs to be displayed on the dashboard of their vehicle. In addition, a vehicle reservation is required for those who want to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain via Cadillac Summit Road, which is sold online in advance only. This road prohibits RVs and buses due to length restrictions. Pets are welcome in the park, but must be kept on leash.
The 27-mile Park Loop Road is one way, meaning once you are on the road, you’ll have to do the full loop before being able to leave the park. This road provides access to popular spots in the park, such as Cadillac Mountain and Jordan Pond. Most of Park Loop Road, the road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, and many shops and restaurants in Bar Harbor are closed from December 1 through April 14, so it’s better to visit from late spring to early fall, even though the park is open year round. There is also a free shuttle available in the park from mid-June to October.
Things To Do
Acadia National Park is a unique place where the mountains meet the ocean. Its diverse landscape spreads across 47,000 acres—offering several ways to immerse into this coastal area. Explore eye-catching cliffs, shops in Bar Harbor, and more than 150 hiking trails. Even the drive along Park Loop Road is scenic, so you’ll never be bored in this national park. Here are some of the best activities to do in the park:
Go On A Hike
From walking along cliff-covered beaches to climbing steep summits, there are several ways to hike in Acadia National Park. Thunder Hole, located right off of Park Loop Road, is a place where waves have been crashing on this beautiful inlet for centuries. It is accessible via an easy, 1.7-mile walk. Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard, is a popular destination for both drivers and hikers. Take your RV or hike the 4.2-mile out-and-back trail to this scenic seaside spot. Lastly, the 1.5-mile Beehive Loop Trail is not for those afraid of heights, but it’s a pretty epic experience for those who want to listen to crashing waves while climbing vertical trails.
Explore Bar Harbor
If you don’t prefer outdoor adventure, then stay in Bar Harbor instead of going all the way into the park. Here, you can enjoy walking through Agamont Park, where you can see the Frenchman Bay, shop in the downtown area, such as at Debbahs, or eat seafood at local restaurants, like Geddy’s.
Paddle on Ponds and Lakes
There are several ponds and lakes in Acadia National Park that allow boating. In many surrounding towns, you can rent a canoe, sailboat, kayak, or motorboat to use while in the park. If a relaxing outdoorsy experience is your preference, then paddle Jordan Pond, which is the center of Mount Desert Island, Long Pond, the longest pond in the park, or Eagle Lake, which is the biggest freshwater lake in the park. Another way to chill is by visiting Sand Beach, the only sand beach in the park, with beautiful blue water.
Bike Along Carriage Roads
The historical carriage roads in Acadia National Park span 16-feet wide and are great for cyclists, With 45 miles of roads available, bikers can glide over broken stone and through gate lodges while enjoying the stunning views of cliffs and waterfalls.
Where to Stay
If you plan on visiting Acadia National Park, take advantage of camping in the area. Campground reservations must be made prior to your trip at Recreation.gov. Same-day reservations are not allowed.
- Blackwoods Campground – no hookups
- Seawall Campground – no hookups
- Schoodic Woods Campground – electric hookups available
- Bar Harbor Campground – electric hookups available
Acadia National Park is one of the few places in the country where the ocean meets the mountains. With this being the only national park in the northeast, it is quite a special place that locals and visitors both enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a shopping or hiking enthusiast—either way, you’re sure to find something to do in this park.
See you on the road!