Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park is a standout in DownEast Acadia. The 80,000-acre island is 18 miles long, 14 miles wide, roughly shaped like a lobster claw, and connected to the mainland by a short bridge and causeways.
At the turn of the century, George B. Dorr, a tireless spokesman for conservation, devoted this time and fortune to preserving the Acadian landscape by presenting an initial 5,000 acres of land to the federal government. In 1916 President Wilson announced the creation of the Sieur de Monts National Monument. Dorr acquired and donated more land, and in 1919, President Wilson signed the act establishing Lafayette National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi. Ten years later, Lafayette National Park was renamed Acadia National Park.
A Top 10 most visited National Park
Millions of visitors have discovered the simple pleasures of “ocean, forests, lakes, and mountains” for over a century in the park’s more than 47,000 acres. While 30,000 acres of Acadia National Park are on Mount Desert Island, additional acreage is located across Frenchman Bay on Schoodic Peninsula and various islands.
Today visitors enjoy 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads, four campgrounds, bird watching, climbing, picnicking, horseback riding, fishing, paddling, sightseeing, swimming, and tide-pooling.
Visitors heading to Acadia National Park will first arrive at Thompson Island, one of many islands along the coast of Mount Desert Island. Stop into the Thompson Island Information Center. Open May through mid-October, the center is staffed by a park ranger and local chamber of commerce representative. Park passes are available for purchase here.
Once on MDI, head along Route 3 to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, an excellent place to begin your Acadia National Park visit. Here you can find park passes and park rangers to answer your questions. Large, self-service maps and digital information screens help you plan your adventure, as well as the Acadia National Park Store. Since its construction in the 1960s, visitors have taken their first ‘hike’ in Acadia up the center’s 52 steps.
One of the best ways to enjoy the many sights of Acadia is by taking a drive along the Park Loop Road. This 27-mile paved roadway winds through the heart of Acadia National Park, visiting many of the most spectacular points en route.
Summit cadillac Mountain
A favorite destination is the lofty, windswept summit of Cadillac Mountain, especially at sunrise and sunset. At 1,537 feet, Cadillac is not only the highest point in the park but the highest anywhere on the East Coast of the United States. Reach the top by way of a 3 1/2 mile spur road, the Cadillac Mountain Road, which makes the winding, exciting climb. For complete details on this breathtaking experience or to make reservations visit Recreation.gov .
Along Park Loop Road
Towering over Sand Beach is the distinctive pink granite escarpment known as The Beehive, which rises more than 500 in height. The half-mile Beehive Trail to the top is one of the most popular hikes in Acadia National Park. The Ocean Path starts at Sand Beach and winds along the ocean parallel to the Park Loop Road for two magnificent miles.
Do not miss a stop at Thunder Hole, the famous narrow cleft in the pink granite cliffs along Ocean Drive. When the weather and tides are just right, the pounding surf ferociously rushes into the chasm and forces the air from the hollow space beneath the cliffs creating a thundering boom like no other sound in nature.
Just ahead, the rugged coastal headlands known as Otter Cliffs are one of the most recognized geological features in Acadia National Park, the 110-foot cliffs rising precipitously from the ocean to meet the fragrant spruce forest above.
Jordan Pond is a hub of activity with hiking trails and carriage roads for bicycling and horseback riding emanating from this scenic area. The view over the pond to The Bubbles is one of the finest in Acadia. Jordan Pond House, the only full-service restaurant in the park, is famous for its popovers and tea on the lawn.
Closing the loop on the Park Loop Road, pass lovely Eagle Lake. Framed by steep mountain walls, it is one of the largest lakes on the island. The warm freshwater lake provides beachgoers with a stark contrast to the cold ocean. Relax on the sands of the compact beach and enjoy the breathtaking view down the lake, set amid a jumble of pink granite mountains. The designated swimming area makes this a popular swimming choice for families with small children. In addition, the historic carriage roads circumnavigate the lake.
things to do
Acadia National Park is an outdoor recreation wonderland. From soft-adventure on the Carriage Roads or skilled hiking and climbing up the park’s granite, visitors of all ages and skill levels will find ways to keep busy.
Hiking Acadia National Park offers numerous hikes/walks for everyone. Strike out on the Ocean Path, passing several of the park’s most famous sites, including Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs. Enjoy a leisurely stroll and grand views on the Cadillac Summit Pat. Venture off on the Jordan Pond Nature Trail that takes in the fabulous view of The Bubbles and Penobscot and Pemetic mountains. The Wonderland Trail is home to fragrant evergreen woods and pretty cobble beaches.
More than 50 miles of wide, graded, and finely graveled Carriage Roads crisscross the eastern side of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island. They are open to walkers, bicyclists, and equestrians for many miles and hours of recreational fun.
Loop trips on the park’s Carriage Roads allow for leisurely trail bike rides ranging from a few hours to an entire day. One of the most popular is the six-mile loop around spectacular Eagle Lake. A web of old fire roads on the western side of Mount Desert Island near Southwest Harbor winds in and out of the park through quiet woods and fields offer another pleasant option.
The 27-mile paved Park Loop Road, on the park’s eastern side, provides incredible sightseeing for road cycling. From the Hulls Cove Visitor Center to Seal Harbor—a two-way vehicular traffic section—bicyclists can stop by Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond House. Hearty cyclists up for a hill climb can tackle the Cadillac Mountain Road.
World-class paddling opportunities abound for adventurous visitors to Acadia National Park. Ocean kayakers can paddle Mount Desert Narrows at the north end of the island, circle the Porcupine Islands for a chance to see harbor seals, porpoises, eagles, and ospreys or make the long but rewarding journey out to Isle au Haut—each of the is a part of the Acadia National Park System—or make loop trips through the archipelago of the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay east of Bar Harbor Tour the waters of Somes Sound, the only natural fjord in eastern U.S. Poke about the quiet western side of Mount Desert Island at the Pretty Marsh Harbor or Seal Cove in Blue Hill Bay.
Anglers visiting Acadia National Park and the surrounding environs of Mount Desert Island will find outstanding opportunities for freshwater and saltwater fishing. Popular cold water fishing spots include Eagle Lake, Long Pond, Hadlock ponds, and Witch Hole Pond. Hodgdon Pond, Round Pond, and Seal Cove Pond are favorites for warm water fishing. Good ocean fishing spots are Sargent Drive, bordering Somes Sound, and Frazer Point on Schoodic Peninsula.
There are two campgrounds on Mount Desert Island, one campground on the Schoodic Peninsula, and five lean-to shelters on Isle au Haut that are within the boundaries of Acadia National Park.
Blackwoods Campground is located on the east side of MDI, south of Bar Harbor on Route 3. All sites at Blackwoods are wooded and within a 10-minute walk of the ocean. The majority of Blackwoods’ sites are for small and large tents; other sites can accommodate RVs.
Seawall Campground is located on the west side of MDI south of Southwest Harbor. The campground is approximately 18 miles from Bar Harbor. All sites at Seawall are within a short walking distance of the coastline and are close to 50/50 tent and RV sites.
Schoodic Woods Campground is the newest campground in the park and located 1.5 miles southeast of Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula. It is approximately 60-70 minutes from Bar Harbor. The campground offers a mix of hike-in tent sites, drive up tent sites, small RV sites, and group sites.
Duck Harbor Campground is located on Isle au Haut. Remote and inaccessible to automobiles, Isle au Haut is linked to the mainland by mailboat. You must have a reservation to camp in permitted, designated sites only, and party size is limited to six persons per site.
To help you plan your trip we provide information on drive time and distances to and around the region. Plus info on other commercial transportation options.
Once you arrive in DownEast Acadia, you will want to access local sources of visitor information, state laws, recreation rules, and road conditions.
To help you pack or plan your day, check out the current weather in the region or learn about year-round averages of temperature and precipitation.