Acadia National Park Guide
Our Acadia National Park Guide is full of tips on how to plan a park visit. Our Acadia guide includes information on park weather, maps, entrance passes, and getting around. The guide also includes information on Acadia carriage roads, hiking, and camping.
Use our Acadia National Park Guide to plan your perfect getaway. See our articles on Acadia National Park Things to Do for suggestions on how to spend your time in the area.
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WHERE IS ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
Acadia National Park is part of the US National Parks system. The park is in northern Maine, USA. It is located about 160 miles north of Portland, Maine, or 280 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts.
AREA OVERVIEW ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
Acadia National Park is home to some of the most wild and spectacular scenery in the northeastern United States. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the park is spread over Mt. Desert Island, Schoodic Peninsula, and Isle Au Haut. Most of the park’s 47,000-acres are on Mt. Desert Island.
Many park attractions are clustered around the Acadia Park Loop Road. In this area, miles of hiking trails and carriage roads run through the mountains and forests of interior Mt. Desert Island. Along the park’s expansive coast, the shore is home to such natural wonders as Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliffs.
Nearby Bar Harbor abuts the park. The town is a well-appointed home base for exploring Acadia. Bar Harbor has been entertaining visitors as a summer resort town for over two-hundred years. The town has hotels, restaurants, pubs, shopping, waterfront activities, rental shops, and tour operators to accommodate all kinds of travelers and budgets.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK WEATHER
Acadia National Park is a 4-season destination. The weather fluctuates greatly between seasons. It is a maritime climate with humidity, clouds, and wind year-round. Summer temperatures will fluctuate in the mid-70s to mid-80s‘F. Winter is snowy and blustery with temperatures in the mid-teens to mid-20s’F.
The best time to visit Acadia National Park is in September or the first two-weeks of June or October, when the weather is comfortable and the crowds/traffic are not at their maximum.
HULLS COVE VISITOR CENTER
The main visitor center in Acadia National Park is the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. The complex is located off Route 3 in Bar Harbor. The center has a large parking lot. Hulls Cove is a good location to speak with park rangers. At the Hulls Cove Visitor Center guests can:
Pick up Acadia National Park maps of hiking trails and carriage roads
Buy Entrance Passes
Make a vehicle reservation for the Cadillac Mountain Summit Road (required May – October)
Check park opening hours (change seasonally)
Be updated on park closings, alerts, advisories, and programs
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK MAP - credit: US National Park Service
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK ENTRANCE OPTIONS
In 2023, there are three main types of entrance passes: Vehicle ($35 for 15 passengers or less), Motorcycle ($30 for 1-2 passengers), and Individual ($20 for a hiker, biker, or pedestrian). Passes are sold in 7-day increments. There are differing prices for some youth and other groups.
Park passes can be purchased online, at automated fee machines, at fee stations, and at some third-party sellers (particularly during the off-season). Entrance passes must be printed and on display. (If the pass is purchased online, remember to print it before leaving home.)
GETTING AROUND ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
Here are some options for getting around Acadia National Park:
Personal Vehicle: The most convenient way to navigate Acadia.
Bicycle: Biking is a popular way to see Mt. Desert Island. Bikes are allowed on public roads, park roads, and the Acadia carriage road system. The Acadia Park Loop Road and carriage roads can be accessed from the town of Bar Harbor. However, Mt. Desert Island is large, it often rains, and traffic is heavy in the summer months. Unless you are an expert bike, it is wise to plan on an alternate means of transportation.
Island Explorer Bus: A free bus service with routes taking in lodging, campgrounds, neighboring villages, and Acadia attractions. The buses are designed to lessen traffic and transport visitors between hiking trails, carriage roads, shopping, and dining options. Check the website before leaving home as routes, stops, and timetables change according to the seasons and other circumstances.
PARKING IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
Parking can be a challenge in Acadia National Park, especially during the busy summer months and fall foliage. Parking is free inside the park with the purchase of an entrance pass. Throughout the park, vehicles spill out onto the road when the parking lots near attractions fill up. Take care for pedestrians along the side of the road as you drive. Here are some of the parking lots located in the park:
Cadillac Mountain: 145 spaces; 0 oversized spaces (need vehicle reservation May – October)
Echo Lake: 89 spaces; 0 oversized spaces
Jordan Pond: 152 spaces; 12 oversized spaces
Sand Beach: 101 spaces; 0 oversized spaces
ACADIA CARRIAGE ROADS
Park patron, John D. Rockefeller, supervised the construction of 45-miles of gravel carriage roads and 16-stone bridges in the early 1900’s. The roads were originally intended to showcase the park’s lakes, ponds, and forests to visitors via horse-drawn carriage. Today, the carriage roads are open to hikers, horses, and bikers; but no motorized vehicles (except class 1 e-bikes).
The gorgeous carriage roads take visitors far away from the crowded Acadia Park Loop Road. The carriage road loops can be challenging with long slopes and some steep portions. E-bikes are popular here. There is signage on the Acadia carriage roads at major intersections. However, bring a map because the signs can be difficult to interpret.
HIKING ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
Acadia National Park boasts over 150 miles of trails within its borders. Trail environments range from rocky mountainous terrain to granite coastlines to glacial ponds to boggy habitats. The park is well-known for its difficult rung and ladder trails that ascend to panoramic summits. However, there are also large numbers of nature trails and scenic walks that are well-suited for families.
Many books have been written about the best hikes in Acadia National Park, but you don’t have to buy one. Just pick up a free map at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and plan out your day. Acadia’s hiking trails, carriage roads, and fire roads present endless trekking opportunities
CAMPING IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
There are four campgrounds located within the park borders. Camping in Acadia National Park is one of the best ways to immerse in the park experience. The camping season typically runs from May to October. There are four campgrounds located within the park:
Blackwoods Campground (Mt. Desert Island): Tent and RV hook ups, no electricity
Seawall Campground (Mt. Desert Island): Tent and RV hook ups, no electricity
Schoodic Woods Campground (Schoodic Peninsula): Tent and RV hook up, electricity
Duck Harbor Campground (Isle Au Haut): 5 Tent sites, no electricity
Enjoy your Maine wild-blueberry pancakes and martinis, Laura and Randy
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