Acadia National ParkBar Harbor, Maine
A perennial favorite for ocean breezes, fall foliage and cross country skiing.
Acadia National Park
Explore Maine’s National Park.
Acadia is both one of the most visited national parks as well as one of the smaller national parks in the country.
Around three million visitors go to Acadia National Park in its busiest years, with the majority visiting during summer. Another popular time to visit is fall, especially in September and October. The peak fall foliage colors are typically in mid-October, according to the National Park Service.
Winter brings cross-country skiing to Acadia’s carriage routes, ice fishing to larger ponds and lakes, and snowmobiles to the Park Loop Road. Although most of Park Loop Road is closed to driving in the winter, Ocean Drive and Jordan Pond Road remain open with Sargeant Drive another popular option for scenic winter views of Acadia and Mount Desert Island. Cross Country ski trails are maintained by volunteer groomers when the carriage road bed is frozen and snow exceeds four to six inches. A limited number of campsites are open for winter camping at Blackwoods Campground if you are interested in braving the freezing temperatures.
Spring brings fog and rain to Acadia from March through May. Park facilities typically operate a limited schedule until mid-April and you’ll want to bring waterproof gear if you are visiting during this season.
Status of Acadia National Park due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Please check the park website for the latest:
Last Updated: May 10, 2021
Native American peoples, the Wabanaki, have inhabited the land we now call Maine for 12,000 years. Samuel de Champlain observed the coast in 1604 as he was sailing down the coast. He named the island he saw Mount Desert Island, and the wilderness he observed is much the same today as it was then.
The area was first established as Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916, by President Woodrow Wilson. It became a national park in 1919, under the name Lafayette National Park, in honor of Marquis de Lafayette, a French supporter of the American Revolution. It was the first national park east of the Mississippi River. In 1929, the name was changed once more to Acadia, in honor of the French colony of which Maine was once a part.
Wealthy philanthropist John D Rockefeller Jr, a supporter of the national parks, oversaw the creation of carriage trails throughout the park from 1915-1933. Overall, 50 miles of trails, 17 bridges of trails, and 2 lodges were constructed, many of which are still in use today.
Acadia is bordered by private property and its land was acquired by donations. Congress didn’t actually set the official boundaries of the park until 1986.
An entrance fee of $20 for motorcycles and $25 for private, noncommercial vehicles is charged at entry between May and October. The passes are good for seven days. The park offers an annual pass for $50 that is good for 12 months from the purchase date. The national park pass ($80), senior pass ($10) and other national park passes are accepted at Acadia National Park.
Bar Harbor is a small coastal seashore community on Mount Desert Island surrounded by Acadia National Park. It was once a summer colony for the super affluent and is still a popular summer tourist destination. During September and October, it is a popular stop for fall foliage cruises in the northeast. The 2010 census listed its population as 5,235. Some Bar Harbor businesses close up after Columbus Day weekend.
Park Loop Road
The primary means of travel through the park is a 27 mile scenic loop called the Park Loop Road. It is open from mid-April through November, with a few small sections open for driving year round. In the winter, sections are opened for snowmobiling and cross country skiing.
To relieve driving congestion during the summer, a free and popular option is to take the Island Explorer shuttle bus. Run by Downeast Transportation and sponsored by LL Bean and Friends of Acadia, it offers passengers access to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park via eight bus routes that stop at popular points around the island. The bus service starts from late May (Schoodic peninsula) or late June and goes through Columbus Day. Note: The fall schedule goes in effect on September 1st.
Distance from Nearby Major Cities:
New York City, NY:
Hancock County Bar Harbor Airport (BHB) is located between Bar Harbor and Ellsworth about ten minutes from the Acadia National Park. Flights are available to BHB from Boston’s Logan International Airport aboard Cape Air, a partner with Jet Blue. PenAir offers flights to Bar Harbor from Boston daily during the summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Elite Airways also offers service to Bar Harbor direct from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) on Fridays and Sundays during the summer.
There are a few different transportation options coming out of Bar Harbor Airport. Bus service is available free of charge to Mount Desert Island on the Island Explorer from late June through Columbus Day. Hertz provides year-round car rentals, with Enterprise offering seasonal car rental from May to October. Taxi service is also available from several different cab companies.
Bangor International Airport is located about 50 miles from Bar Harbor. Delta, US Airways and Allegiant Air all fly to and from Bangor. For those flying into Bangor, Bar Harbor Shuttle offers daily trips during the summer from Bar Harbor to Bangor. Downeast Transportation offers year-round transport on Mondays and Fridays between Bangor and Bar Harbor The cost starts at $45 one way and $90 round trip. Car rental is also available in Bangor through Avis, Budget, Hertz and Alamo/National.
Boston’s Logan Airport is about a five hour drive from Acadia National Park. All major car rental companies service the airport. Concord Coach also offers year round bus service from Boston to Bar Harbor.
Roundtrip Flights to Portland
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Busiest Months (Percentage of Annual Visits)
- Cross Country Skiing
- Cross Country Skiing
Acadia National Park Lighthouses
The only lighthouse on Mount Desert Island is the Bass Harbor Head Light, first lit in 1858. Although the lighthouse is not open to the public, spectacular views of the coast and lighthouse are available from short trails in the vicinity of the lighthouse which are part of the national park.
For those with access to a boat or boat rental, two other lighthouses on park grounds in the Cranberry Isles are an option. The Bear Island Lighthouse is located on Bear Island at the southern entrance of Somes Sound. The Baker Island Lighthouse is one of the older lighthouses in the area (commissioned in 1828 and present version built in 1855). Although they are both located on national park land, they are closed to the public.
Acadia National Park Beaches
Sand Beach is a 290 yard beach carved out of the rocky shores of Mount Desert Island. It is located on the northeastern portion of the island accessible via Park Loop Road. A lifeguard is on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The water rarely gets above 55 degrees though. The Island Explorer shuttle bus stops here. Sand Beach is near The Beehive, a small 520 foot mountain with a short but popular strenuous climb via the Beehive Trail that provides spectacular views of the area.
Echo Lake Beach on is a better option for swimming because it is warmer than the ocean. Echo Lake is a 237 acre freshwater lake along Route 102 just north of Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island. The beach is on the southern shore and is staffed with a lifeguard from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The Island Explorer shuttle bus also stops here.
Acadia, with more than 120 miles of trails for hiking, has been called a day hiker’s paradise. Popular trails include the Beehive Trail, Jordan Pond Path, the Precipice, Acadia Mountain Trail, Gorham Mountain Trail, Cadillac North Ridge Trail and Cadillac South Ridge Trail. Be sure to check the difficulty rating before going, however, since some Acadia trails require climbing iron rungs or walking on narrow ledges.
A number of ponds and rivers in the park are home to brook trout. There are also landlocked salmon in Eagle Lake, Echo Lake, Jordan Pond and Long Pond. Both brook trout and Atlantic salmon are stocked in the park. Fishing for chain pickerel and smallmouth bass are also options. Bring a canoe or kayak for the best fishing of the lakes and ponds.
Ocean fishing is also an option when the fish are running. Sargent Drive on Somes Sound is known for mackeral, bluefish and striped bass from July through September. You may also try Frazer Point on Schoodic Peninsula for mackeral from mid-July through September. Outside the national park, the Lamoine State Park dock (just north of Mt Desert Island) is another option.
Atlantic mackerel are a schooling fish. Most people fishing for mackeral will use a multi-hook fishing rig. Streamers, wobbling spoons and jigs are all used to attract fish. The best time to catch them from shore is during high tide.
Deep sea fishing and lobster tours are available from Bar Harbor as well as nearby oceanfront cities.
Kayaking is a popular activity in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park from June through September. Both guided tours and kayak rentals are available in Bar Harbor as well as other locations around Mount Desert Island. The west side of Mount Desert Island is popular to view wildlife and explore the undeveloped coastline. Another option for those that don’t want to travel on the ocean is Long Pond.
The birds found in the national park which are listed as abundant or common by the park service include: Alder Flycatcher, American Bittern, American Black Duck, American Crow, American Eider, American Golden-eye, American Goldfinch, American Herring Gull, American Kestrel, American Osprey, American Pipit, American Redstart, American Robin, American Tree Sparrow, American Woodcock, Bald Eagle, Baltimore Oriole, Barn Swallow, Bay-breasted Warbler, Belted Kingfisher, Black and White Creeper, Black Guillemot, Black-bellied Plover, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-capped Chickadee, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blue Jay, Blue-headed Solitary Vireo, Broad-winged Hawk, Bronzed Grackle, Brown Creeper, Brown Thrasher, Brown-headed Cowbird, Bufflehead, Butter Butt, Canada Goose, Canada Ruffed Grouse, Canada Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Chebec, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Chimney Swift, Chipping Sparrow, Cliff Swallow, Common Flicker, Common Loon, Common Mallard, Common Nighthawk, Common Oven-bird, Common Raven, Common Tern, Common Yellowthroat, Crested Flycatcher, Dark-eyed Junco, Double-crested Cormorant, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Dowitcher, Eastern Golden-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Harlequin Duck, Eastern Hermit Thrush, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Mourning Dove, Eastern Nashville Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Pigeon Hawk, Eastern Purple Finch, Eastern Red-tailed Hawk, Eastern Red-wing, Eastern Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Snow Bunting, Eastern Solitary Sandpiper, Eastern Song Sparrow, Eastern Swamp Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Turkey Vulture, Eastern Veery, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Eastern White-breasted Nuthatch, Eastern Winter Wren, Eastern Wood Pewee, Eastern Yellow Warbler, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Blue Heron, Greater Scaup, Greater Yellowlegs, Green-winged Teal, House Finch, Killdeer, Laughing Gull, Least Sandpiper, Magnolia Warbler, Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Northern Parula, Northern Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Pine Siskin, Northern Sharp-shinned Hawk, Olive-backed Swainson’s Thrush, Palm Warbler, Purple Sandpiper, Red Crossbill, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Red-eyed Vireo, Ring-billed Gull, Ring-necked Duck, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Ruddy Turnstone, Rusty Blackbird, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sora Rail, Spotted Sandpiper, Tennessee Warbler, Tree Swallow, White-throated Sparrow, Wilson’s Pileolated Warbler, Wood Duck, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Current Astronomy Chart
Courtesy of the AstroViewer night sky map.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
This is the only lighthouse on Mount Desert Island, located on the southwestern tip of the quiet side. It receives tens of thousands of park visitors every year and is one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine.
The Bubbles on the north side of Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park are popular with both hikers and photographers. It is a short hike to the top of the South Bubbles, which also brings the optical illusion of Bubble Rock with it. And photographers should bring their tripod to Jordan Pond in the early morning to catch the reflection of The Bubbles across from the Jordan Pond House.
Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the United States to view the sunrise for five months during fall and winter every year. The mountain is accessible by car 24 hours a day from Acadia National Park’s access road, except during winter when the Summit Road is closed along with most of the Park Loop Road.
Isle au Haut
Isle au Haut is an island in Acadia National Park off the coast of Stonington, Maine which contains the Duck Harbor Campground, the Isle au Haut Light and . Half of the island is privately owned and the other half is park owned. The park land was donated to the federal government in 1943 by heirs of the founder of the community.
Jordan Pond and Jordan Pond House
Sixty percent of park visitors make a stop at Jordan Pond House and/or Jordan Pond during their time in Acadia National Park. The pond and house are named for the Jordan family of Seal Harbor who built a farmhouse near the pond in the 1800s. Jordan Pond House is the only true sit-down restaurant within Acadia National Park. It is also the gateway to the carriage roads for many park visitors.
Sand Beach and the Beehive
Sand Beach is one of the two beaches in Acadia National Park with lifeguards from Memorial Day until Labor Day, and it is the closest parking area to the popular Beehive Trail, where hikers look down from Beehive Mountain on the surrounding area. Despite its name, the standard ocean temperature of 55 degrees means that only 10 percent of the visitors actually don a bathing suit and plunge into the water here. Nevertheless, it is still a popular destination along Park Loop Road in Acadia.
Schoodic Peninsula is a more than 2000 acre section of Acadia National Park, approximately 5 percent of the overall park. There is a six mile one way road through this section, with spurs to Schoodic Head and Schoodic Point. There are also eight miles of hiking trials and an additional eight miles of bike paths. Schoodic Head is the highest section on the Schoodic Peninsula, with an elevation of 440 feet above sea level.
The Seawall area on the western side of Mount Desert Island offers Acadia National Park visitors the opportunity to avoid the crowds of the eastern side of the park on the so-called “Quiet-side”. From Echo Lake Beach and the nearby Southwest Harbor, to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse and Acadia Mountain, there is plenty to occupy a park visitor for a weekend away. If you are just driving through the Seawall area, the natural seawall was a nice area to stop and enjoy as part of the drive back from the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse to Southwest Harbor. There is also a campground and picnic area in this area.
Sieur de Monts
The Sieur de Monts section of Acadia National Park includes the trailside Abbe Museum, nature center, Wild Gardens of Acadia and the Sieur de Monts Spring. It is one of the first turnoffs on the one way Park Loop Road, before the entrance station to the park.
Thunder Hole is a rock inlet in Acadia National Park where the waves crash with a loud boom before high tide. It is the next stop after Sand Beach for park visitors traveling the one-way Park Loop Rd and gets quite a crowd during times when attendance at the park is high. The best time to be there is 2 hours before high tide, although it can be hit or miss depending on the day and the waves.
Bar Harbor is a popular summer resort town and cruise ship destination that serves as the gateway to Acadia National Park. It is the home of many hotels and other lodgings, restaurants and bars, boutique shopping and ocean excursions such as whale watching and sea-kayaking. It is also known for its land bridge to Bar Island which is accessible by foot at low tide.
Northeast Harbor is a village on Mount Desert Island located on the east side of Somes Sound across from Southwest Harbor. It contains a small shopping district and is a popular area for the rich and famous in the summer. A popular visitor attraction within the village is the Asticou Azalea Garden, which is a 2.3 acre garden and pond open to the public during daylight hours from May 1st to October 31st, located at the intersection of Route 198 and Route 3. The Great Harbor Maritime Museum, which collects, preserves and celebrates the maritime history of the region, is also located there.
The Otter Creek Area of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park contains a small village, an impressive coastal cliff known as Otter Cliff, as well as Otter Point and Otter Cove. Otter Creek is a small village on Mount Desert Island located on Route 3 that is 5 miles south of Bar Harbor near Acadia National Park’s Blackwoods Campground. It was established in 1789 and contains both the Otter Creek Inn and Market as well as a facility that offers hot showers.
Seal Harbor is a small town on Mount Desert Island known for its popular summer homes among the rich and famous, the public sand beach and the many boats moored in the harbor.
Somesville is the oldest settlement on Mount Desert Island and dates back to 1761 when it was established by Abraham Somes. The central village and harbor district are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It contains one of the most photographed bridges in Maine, the arching Somesville Bridge for pedestrians across Somes Creek. The Somesville Museum & Gardens overlooks the ancient mill pond with exhibits provide information about the history of the island and education about the flowering plants and herbs there. This small village is on the road between Bar Harbor and the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.
Southwest Harbor is a small town on Somes Sound on the southwest side of Mount Desert Island that is often called the jewel of MDI. Southwest Harbor has a working harbor with lobster boats, yachts and sail boats in the marina. It also offers restaurants, bed and breakfasts, shopping at various artisan stores, and a launching point for deep sea fishing excursions.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail – The Appalachian Trial extends southward about 2200 miles from Mount Katahdin in Maine.
Saint Croix Island International Historic Site – A monument to the beginning of the United States and Canada in 1604, when 79 men including Samuel Champlain established a settlement on the island. It was the beginning of permanent European presence in Northern North America. The island is in the Saint Croix River that forms the United States – Canada border. It is about 2 hours and 15 minutes from Acadia.
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge – This 28,000 acre NWR near Calais is one of the northernmost National Wildlife Refuges in the Antlic Flyway, a migratory route for birds along the East Coast.
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge – This 9,100 acre national wildlife refuge established in 1966 protects the areas salt marshes and estuaries for migratory birds. It is located along 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Cadillac Mountain Sunrise
Camping, Hotels & Lodging
Echo Lake Beach
Isle au Haut
Sieur de Monts