Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Tips – Time, Parking, Hikes

We have gathered a few tips to enjoy the Cadillac Mountain sunrise. We made the pre-dawn trip up to the highest point in Acadia National Park twice during our holiday weekend there and were fortunate to see one of the most beautiful sunrises ever the second time after there was fog the first morning.

Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the continental United States to see the sunrise from October to early March. Cadillac Mountain rises to an elevation of 1,529 feet above sea level and is the highest point along the North Atlantic seashore. Regardless of the time of year, it is a gorgeous place to enjoy an early morning adventure.

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Photos

Here are a few sunrise photos that we took on Columbus Day in 2017:

The sun rises over Schoodic Peninsula which is east of Cadillac Mountain.

During September and October, the fall foliage cruise ships out of New York and Boston come into harbor in the morning.

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Parking

As anyone who has been to Cadillac Mountain knows, there is limited parking at the top of the mountain. If you hope to see the sunrise, you should arrive early. How early? We were advised to be there thirty minutes early by the NPS employee at the campground when we visited in 2017.

There are a few things to remember as you plan to see the sunrise. The first is that travel around the park takes more time than you would expect. Whether you are leaving for the Mountain from Bar Harbor or the Blackwoods Campground, you will need to plan about thirty minutes to get to Cadillac Mountain. If there is fog, this can slow the drive.

Even from the base of the mountain, it can take some time to get up on the winding road. The last thing that you want is to get caught in a traffic jam going up the top of the mountain and miss the sunrise. Hundreds of people will be making the sunrise drive up to the top, so it is best to not be the last one to start the journey.

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Time

Sunrise occurs at Cadillac Mountain between 4:48 AM and 7:08 AM, depending on the time of the year. The sunrise is at its latest in late December and early January. The sunrise occurs at its earliest in June and early July.

The precise sunrise time can be found by a Google search. However, due to limited cell phone availability at some locations in the national park, don’t wait until the last minute to grab this important information. You may also be able to find it posted at the campground and by asking at Bar Harbor hotels.

Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Hike

If you plan to wake up early and hike up Cadillac Mountain for the sunrise, try the North Ridge Trail. It is one of the most popular hikes in Acadia National Park. It will take you over an hour to get up the two miles in the dark before sunrise, so plan accordingly. Be sure to bring flashlights.

Fog & Cloudy Weather During the Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

We experienced a high amount of fog during our first attempt to see the sunrise there. When we got to the top of the mountain, you could barely see more than thirty or forty feet.

We decided to wait it out and hope that the fog would dissipate. It didn’t. We took a photo when the sun was supposed to be up to document the moment, and then we scurried down the mountain to drive around Bar Harbor. As we drove down, we saw that the fog had disappeared from lower levels and got quite a scenic view from the road on the lower half of the mountain.

Our Cadillac Mountain Sunrise Tips – Recapped

1. Get up early – You need to leave an hour before sunrise to hope to get up the mountain and get parking. You also need to leave early if you plan to hike to the top, since you will move slower in the dark. Make sure that you know what time it is happening and set several alarms.

2. It is hard to predict whether it will be cloudy or not at the top of Cadillac Mountain. On our second day, the forecast was for clouds and it turned out to be beautiful. If you want to see the sunrise, it is best to go and check for yourself!

3. Take a camera! You will regret it if you don’t as the views are majestic. However, don’t forget to take a minute away from photography and take in the beauty with your own eyes.

4. If there is fog on the mountain, move to lower levels to try to catch the sunrise below the clouds.