Acadia National Park Maine
Stunning Beauty In Maine
Acadia National Park Maine - Arguably, no other place in the New England region of the United States can boast views as spectacular, landscapes as pristine, and wildlife as abundant as it is in the Acadia National Park.
The fact that this national park is easily accessible from many points around the surrounding towns only adds to its enduring appeal as a popular tourist destination for those with an adventurous heart. More than 2 million visitors enter the park each year.
This 30,000+ acre national park was the first established East of the Mississippi River. With its 41 miles of coastline, 110 miles of hiking trails, 45+ miles of carriage roads and countless opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, biking, kayaking on lakes and the ocean or just driving to a spectacular vista and soaking in the breathtaking views, Acadia is one of the top tourist attractions in Maine.
Located mostly on Mount Desert Island, the park falls into 4 towns on the island - Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor and Tremont. Other parts of Acadia are located in Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula and the secluded Isle au Haut. Most people visit the park on Mount Desert Island but if you have the time, it is worth the drive out to the more remote areas of Acadia on the Schooic and Isle au Haut. There you will not only enjoy the stunning beauty but also the lack of crowds, making for a truly magical experience.
As soon as you set eyes on the Acadia National Park Maine, your excitement will rise with every type of scenery that passes by. Magnificent mountains soaring high into the sky, a jagged ocean shoreline, crystal clear lakes and lush, pine-scented woodlands. The views of the ocean are absolutely breath taking and it never gets old - each one is as good as or better than the last.
How can you make the best of your visit to Acadia National Park Maine? What should you do while there? Are there "don't miss" spots? Read on to find out how to enjoy Acadia to the fullest.
Don't Miss in Acadia National Park Maine
You'll probably want to start your visit at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center which is located just off of Route 3. Open seasonally, you can find a ton of information about the park, where to go and what to do. Here you can pay for a park pass - a very reasonable $20 per car for the week. Pick up a map of the park and be on your way.
The carriage road system that exists in Acadia National Park Maine was developed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and should definitely be enjoyed by bike, horse drawn carriage from Wildwood Stables or even just walking. The roads are flat and well kept making for a very enjoyable time. They wind through the park leading to many points of interest. If you get tired, you can always stop at one of the Island Explorer bus stops and hop on (bikes can be mounted on the outside of the bus) for a free ride back to wherever you started. How's that for convenience?
Driving the Park Loop Road is another must-do in Acadia. The road is the main way to get around in the park. There are several places to stop and take in the scenery, so definitely take advantage of this. Most of the road is one way, with a couple short 2-way sections. You can start near the visitor center and follow along the 27 mile loop for a great way to see the park. Major attractions are clearly marked both on the park map and signs along the road so it is very easy to find everything you want to see.
Be sure to make time to drive or hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain. The highest peak on the eastern seaboard, it's a great place to catch the sunrise if you can drag yourself out of bed that early. You could literally hang out there for hours and never tire of the views. It would make a wonderful place for a picnic - the top is very open and rocky with tons of places to lay out a blanket and relax. Yes, there are lots of people, but not so much so that you feel crowded. It's easy to venture out a bit and be all alone. Don't miss this stop, it's one of the most spectacular parts of Acadia National Park Maine.
Of course the ocean is spectacular from any vantage point, but you might want to check out Thunder Hole. A natural cavern made out of rocks, when the conditions are right, water can shoot up to 40 feet in the air with a thunderous clap. Even if there isn't much action from the hole going on, like when we were there last, the view from this area is absolutely beautiful. Otter Cliff (a popular rock climbing area) is to one side, Sand Beach is in the other direction. These are other popular attractions in Acadia National Park Maine.
Speaking of Sand Beach, I don't know that there is a more spectacular beach in all of Maine. As you descend the stairs down to the beach, you'll be wowed by the setting of this area. The cliffs on each side, the soft sand, the blue water - all of it makes for an idyllic beach day. Yes, the water is bone numbingly cold (rarely above 55 degrees) but if you have kids, they don't seem to mind. There are changing rooms and bathrooms for after you leave the beach. Parking can be crowded and you may have to walk a ways, but it is worth it.
If you are looking for a beach where you can really swim and enjoy the water in Acadia National Park Maine, check out Echo Lake Beach.
For a taste of tradition, stop into the Jordan Pond House for tea and popovers on the lawn. Serving the wealthy vacationers since the late 1800's, you'll enjoy not only the popovers (they truly ARE amazing) but also the views of the pond and mountains. It is a VERY busy place and I definitely recommend making a reservation (207-276-3316). They also serve lunch and dinner, but it is pricey. Personally I would enjoy a picnic somewhere else, and just go for the popovers!
In this area you can also take a hike around Jordan Pond which is about 3 miles, or just take the nature path which is a short 1 mile hike. If shopping is more your speed, the Jordan Pond House has a very nice gift shop.
Also be sure to check out the Sieur de Monts Spring area. This is a great area to spend some time visiting the spring as well as the Abbe Museum, Wildflower Garden and Nature Center. You can walk through the garden yourself and check out all the clearly marked plants that are native to Mount Desert Island.
The nature center is small but the kids find the animals interesting. The Abbe Museum of Stoneage Antiquities is a great place to learn about Native American culture and its history in Maine. If you don't visit the museum here, there is also one in downtown Bar Harbor.
There is just so much to see and do in Acadia National Park Maine and Mount Desert Island. Plan to stay at least a week to do it all and really enjoy one of the most beautiful areas in the United States. Like us, you'll want to return year after year. Please take my word for it and don't miss out on visiting Acadia and the island - it is truly a magical part of Maine that needs to be seen to be believed!
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