Acadia National Park has been on my list of must travel places for as long as I can remember. As an East Coaster, I’ve always appreciated that a national park jewel existed on this coast too! I will admit the more popular parks in the west coast have always called to me, perhaps because Acadia felt like an adventure I can take on anytime because it was close to home.
And I’m glad I saved my visit to Acadia for a special occasion. After months of being locked in my house because of COVID-related shelter-at-home orders and because it was the responsible thing to do, as cases started to wane in the early fall, I felt comfortable taking a trip within a day’s driving distance. Maine had the lowest COVID infection rate in the early fall and implemented strict travel requirements and enforcement (e.g., I had to show proof of a negative COVID test taken 72 hours prior to entering the state to hotel/Airbnb operators), so I was confident the trip would keep me and others safe.
Located on the coast of Maine, Acadia not only offers breath-taking landscapes marked by thick pine forests, rugged coastlines, and granite peaks but also an abundance of wildlife (moose, bears, whales, and so much more!). Hiking a mountain to see views of the ocean is a unique experience unto itself.
Acadia offers visitors of all hiking experience and abilities something to take on and enjoy (this is true of all National Parks but I felt this one was particularly so)! There are over 125 miles of hiking trails over a range of environments (forests, ponds, and mountains) and 45 miles of carriage roads that are open for walking and biking.
Several of the sea to summit hikes often scaling cliffs through bolted metal ladders are exciting and adventurous! I really enjoyed the challenge of the Precipice and Beehive Trails. These trails were steep with many vertical ascents along narrow, exposed trails. Planning to hike in Acadia is also fun because many trail connect with others making for interesting loop and lollipop hikes that you can put together.
– Beehive Trail
– Precipice Trail
– Jordan Pond
– Ocean Path
– Cadillac Mountain
Visitors can fly, drive or take the park-run shuttle, the Island Explorer to access Acadia National Park.
Airports: There are several airports close to Acadia.
– Bar Harbor-Hancock County Regional Airport (8 miles)
– Bangor International Airport (46 miles)
– Portland Jetport (175 miles)
– Logan International Airport in Boston (274 miles) is largest commercial airport
Acadia Shuttle: When the Island Explorer Shuttle is running (in peak season), visitors can get away with not having a personal vehicle. In fact, Park Loop Road, the main road that runs through the popular areas of Acadia National Park can get congested. In October 2020, Acadia started testing a vehicle registration process to reduce congestion inside the park. The shuttle also provides transportation into the park from gateway towns outside the park as well as the Bar Harbor-Hancock County Regional Airport.
Entrance Fees: As with other National Parks, there is an entrance fee for Acadia National Park.
– Cars/Other Vehicles, $30; Motorcycles, $25; & Bicycle/Walk-In, $15/per person (seven day pass)
– Annual Yellowstone Pass (unlimited visits to Acadia): $55
– Annual National Park Pass (unlimited entrance to any public lands operated by NPS): $80
There are hotels within Acadia National Park, but there are four campgrounds that are open seasonally (May through October). There are a range of lodging and other accommodations outside the park as well!
Camping: Reservations for campsites open three months in advance and there are no first come, first-served sites.
– Blackwoods (East side of Mt. Desert Island and close to the major attractions)
– Seawall (West side of Mt. Desert Island and less crowded that Blackwoods)
– Duck Harbor Campground (Isle au Haut and accessible by boat only)
– Schoodic Woods (Schoodic Peninsula)
Gateway Towns: There are several towns and cities surrounding Acadia National Park. Bar Harbor is the largest and most well known and often considered synonymously with Acadia.
– Bar Harbor (9 miles)
– Southwest Harbor (10 miles)
– Tremont Harbor (13 miles)
– Trenton (9 miles)