For the past three years, our family vacations have consisted of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park. For this year to keep the theme going, we decided to take a trip to Maine. We decided to visit Acadia National Park in Maine and a few other spots along the coast.
Map of Acadia National Park
History of Acadia
The park was originally known as Lafayette National Park when it was established in 1919. It was the first national park established east of the Mississippi River. In 1929, it was renamed Acadia National Park. It is the only national park in Maine and one of the top national parks in the country. Over two million visitors visit Acadia each year.
Location of the Park
Acadia National Park is located in eastern Maine about halfway up the Atlantic Coast. The park primarily lies on Mount Desert Island. Other portions of the park are located on several smaller islands and on the Schoodic Peninsula. The best place to find lodging in Acadia National Park is in nearby Bar Harbor, which has many different hotels and bed and breakfasts.
Acadia National Park offers mountains, ocean shorelines, forests, and lakes/ponds. Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak in the park at around 1,500 feet. As far as mountains go, Cadillac does not sound very impressive; however, the view at the top is well worth it. There are 25 other mountains located within the boundaries of the park. Among the 22 lakes/ponds in Acadia, Jordan Pond is the most famous.
Things to Do in Acadia
Acadia National Park offers many different things to see and do. The entrance fee to the park is $20 for a seven day pass. It is possible to visit the park in as little as a day or stretch your visit into a full week. If you like to get out and explore, I would suggest taking at least a few days during your visit.
- Scenic Park Loop Drive – This is a great way to begin your visit to Acadia. This 20-mile road will take you past the most popular places in the park. It has ample places to pull over and take pictures. The road is usually open between April 15 and December 1, depending on the weather.
- Cadillac Mountain – Take the 3.5-mile road to the top of the mountain. Located at the summit is a large parking area with a gift shop. Also, at the top is a .3-mile hiking trail that offers amazing views of the Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, the Porcupine Islands, and more. My family really enjoyed the view and taking pictures from the summit. If you are into watching sunrises, sunsets, or dark starry skies, this is the place to go.
- Sand Beach – This is accessible from the Scenic Loop Drive. It is the only sand beach in the park. It is a short walk to the beach from the parking lot. Rugged cliffs fame the beach on both sides. It is a great place to take pictures or build a sandcastle. In addition, it is a great place to just sit and relax.
Thunder Hole - Big Waves
- Thunder Hole – Thunder Hole is a small area of naturally carved rocks that the waves slam against creating a thunderous sound. The best time to observe Thunder Hole is on a day that has big waves. Waves crashing into this small area can send water up to 40 feet in the air with a thunder like sound. Unfortunately on the day we were there, the waves were rather calm.
- Otter Cliff – Otter Cliff is located a little further down the Park Loop drive. It consists of a 110-foot high cliff. When the tide is out, you can see thousands of rounded boulders down below. This is a beautiful area to relax for a bit and just listen to the waves hit the shoreline. Also, a great place to take pictures.
- Jordan Pond – Jordan Pond is a great place to stop in the park. It boasts the largest gift shop and the only restaurant inside the park. Those are not the only reasons to stop by Jordan Pond. The whole area around the pond is beautiful. Looking down the hill from the gift shop, you can see the pond with two rounded peaks in the distance. It is also a great place to canoe, kayak, or hike.
- Bass Harbor Lighthouse – The Bass Harbor Light House is located in Tremont, which is on the southwest side of Mount Desert Island. It is free of charge to visit the grounds. In order to get the best view of the lighthouse, follow the trail to the left hand side of the parking lot, which will take you a short distance through the woods and down a set of stairs to the rocks below. You can easily climb out on the rocks to get a great picture of the lighthouse.
- Hiking – Hikers of all abilities will enjoy hiking in Acadia National Park.There are over 40 miles of carriage roads that are level and make for very easy hikes. The Ocean Shore Trail is also highly recommended. It runs between Sand Beach and Otter Cliff with amazing views of the shoreline. It is about three miles to Otter Cliff and back. For the more adventurous, Acadia offers very challenging trails that include having to climb up iron rungs. Remember to be cautious when hiking near the edge of a cliff.
Weather in the Park
Acadia National Park receives a lot of precipitation year round. Fog is a common occurrence during the summer months. The coast keeps the temperatures on the moderate side compared to those in inland Maine. Ice storms are a big concern in the winter, along with snowfall. Acadia normally receives about 60 inches of snow.
Wildlife in Acadia
The park is home to many different kinds of wildlife. Over 40 different species of mammals live in the park: moose, black bears, white-tailed deer, beavers, coyotes, and bobcats are some of the larger mammals. Many different types of birds can be seen in the park, such as bald eagles, peregrine falcons, herons, and raptors to name a few. The ponds and streams are full of bullfrogs, salamanders, brook trout, lake trout, small mouth bass, landlocked salmon, and much more. On our vacation there, we saw a bunch of tadpoles swimming in Jordan Pond near the shore. Whale watching is also an option through a local boating company in Bar Harbor that offers daily trips.
Acadia National Park is a great place to visit. The different terrains make it unique when comparing it to other national parks. Acadia has many places that are wonderful for sitting down and watching the waves crash against the shoreline. I know my family really enjoyed our visit there and I highly recommend that if you are visiting Maine, that you make time to visit Acadia.
Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on January 15, 2019:
It looks gorgeous.
Mike Hardy from Caseville, Michigan on April 02, 2018:
We went as a cruise stop and spent the day. Awesome. Missed thunder hole.. based on your video it was a shame we didn’t see it.
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on July 24, 2012:
What a fantastic place! All this info (not to mention the gorgeous photos) really makes me want to go.
moonfairy on July 13, 2012:
thanks a bunch ercramer36, and yes, I lived on the coast of new hampshire and the water can numb your feet in seconds!!
Eric Cramer (author) from Chicagoland on July 12, 2012:
We had a great time at the park. I want to go back in the fall sometime and see what it looks like in full color.
Glimmer Twin Fan - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is great too!
Bankscottage - We only put our feet in. The was very cold.
moonfairy on July 12, 2012:
interesting hub. My husband and I are going to be there in August for a week. Your hub pointed out things that would interest us so now we're really looking forward to it! Thanks for sharing!!
Russ Moran - The Write Stuff from Long Island, New York on July 12, 2012:
Well done Hub on a gorgeous place. I was there two years ago and hope to return. Voted up an interesting. Russ Moran
Peter V from At the Beach in Florida on July 12, 2012:
Wow, looks like a wonderful park! Love all the great pictures!
daskittlez69 from midwest on July 12, 2012:
I will have to check this out the next time I am in Maine. Thanks for the hub
brenda12lynette from Utah on July 12, 2012:
Acadia looks awesome!! My time in the eastern part of the country has been severely limited. Hopefully one day! Great hub with awesome pictures!
Mark Shulkosky from Pennsylvania on July 12, 2012:
Great Hub and Photos. I have a camp in Maine and was just at Acadia 2 days ago. It was a beautiful sunny day. We go to Acadia a couple of times a year. It is the second most visited national park. You should take your family to the Grand Canyon (but I still like Acadia better).
Did you go swimming at Sand Beach? How was the water?
Claudia Mitchell on July 12, 2012:
Acadia is incredible! One of my favorites. Another park I would suggest is Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Zero crowds and loads of hiking. The scenery can't be beat! Thanks for the interesting hub!
DREAM ON on July 11, 2012:
I live in Maine but have never been there.Looking forward to see this wonderful park in the summer.Great video and all around hub.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 11, 2012:
I have been to all of the other national parks you mentioned and have even written hubs about them. I would love to see Acadia National Park someday. According to a series about national parks that I saw on television within the last year, most of the land within what is now known as Acadia was donated by wealthy people to the National Park Service. Nice that this beautiful land can now be enjoyed by everyone. Loved your photos and descriptions. Voted up, useful, beautiful, interesting and will share with my followers. Thanks!