Acadia National Park

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Acadia National Park

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A trail cairn

Acadia National Park [1] is the only United States National Park in New England. It is on the Mid-coast of Maine, near the town of Bar Harbor.

Understand

Acadia NP encompasses more than 47,000 acres, 30,300 of which are on Mount Desert Island. 2,728 acres of the park lie on Isle au Haut and 2,266 more on Schoodic Peninsula.

Acadia is one of the smaller national parks in the country, yet it attracts nearly 3 million visitors per year. It is important that those who do visit and explore this wonderful park follow some basic guidelines in order to keep the park as clean, natural, and undisturbed as possible. Please review the Leave No Trace principles [2] if you're planning a trip, and remember them while you are having a great vacation. Help keep Acadia the way it should be. Friends of Acadia [3] is a group that offers additional details about respecting this natural wonder.

History

Originally designated as Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916 by presidential proclamation, Congress renamed the park Lafayette National Park in 1919. Congress again enacted a name change in 1929 to the name we now use, Acadia National Park. It was the first NP established east of the Mississippi River.

In October 1947 Acadia, along with some adjacent lands, was ravaged by fire.

Landscape

A quick look at any topographical map of Mount Desert Island will indicate the powerful and lasting effects of the last ice age on the island and the current landscape of Acadia. As the last glacier receded over 18,000 years ago it left behind the elongated mountains and lakes we see today. The moving ice was also the culprit behind the "bald" summits of most of the park's hilltops, scraping off vegetation and leaving the beautiful pink granite underneath.

Flora and fauna

More than 273 bird species have been identified in the park, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, blue jays, finches, and chickadees (the Maine state bird). Mammal species include deer, squirrels, foxes, rabbits, porcupines and bats. Other species include garter snakes, the American bullfrog, and the North American red-bellied salamander.

The National Park's checklist of common plants can be found here [4]

Climate

Get in

Acadia is accessible through a number of routes, the most clearly-defined are the Hulls Cove Visitor's Center [5] and the park entrance on Schooner Head Road.

Fees/Permits

There are:

  • 7-day (vehicle) entrance permit, $20 in-season, $10 off-season
  • 7-day individual park pass, $5
  • Annual Acadia pass, $40
  • Commercial mini bus (capacity 16-25), $60 for 1 entrance
  • Commercial sedan (capacity 1-6), $25 + $5/visitor for 1 entrance
  • Commercial tour bus (capacity 26+), $150 for 1 entrance
  • Commercial van (capacity 7-15), $50 for 1 entrance

Get around

The free Island Explorer Buses, Phone: +1 207 667-5796, [6] can take you through the park, stopping at points of interest. There are bicycle racks on the front of each bus if you'd like to combine transport methods as you explore.

See

Do

Bicycling

  • Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop, 141 Cottage St, +1 207 288-3886, [7]. Offering recreational rentals for $19 full-day, $14 half-day. High-performance rentals are $24 full-day, $19 half-day. Full-suspension rentals are $32 full-day. Road bike rentals are $24 full-day.
  • Acadia Bike, 48 Cottage St, +1 800 526-8615, [8]. Bike rentals, group tours, new and used bikes for sale.

Bird watching

Acadia is a great place to birdwatch, with many species calling the park home. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons, great blue herons, cranes, ducks, geese, chickadees, woodpeckers, owls, orioles and blue jays can be seen in the park, just to name a few of the most common. For an extensive checklist and more info on birdwatching opportunities in Acadia, see the NPS's birdwatching page here [9]

Cross-country skiing

Fishing

  • Acadia National Park's site on regulations, species, etc. [10]
  • While ocean fishing is open to all, fishing in freshwater lakes and ponds requires a Maine state fishing license. Licenses are required for residents 16 and up and non-residents 12 and up, and can be purchased at town offices and a few local shops.

Hiking

Acadia has the best day hiking in the Eastern U.S. Walking the miles of trails is one of the best ways to experience the park. Immerse yourself in the flora and fauna of the island on a number of different hikes of various environment, length, and difficulty. These trails are stunning, with high ocean views, accessible tree lines, steep precipices, stone bridges, etc.

Paddling

The last glacier of 18,000 years ago carved out the incredible and beautiful terrain of the park, leaving behind some of the cleanest lakes and ponds in the country.

  • Coastal Kayaking Tours, 48 Cottage St., +1 207 288-9605, +1 800 526-8615, [11].

Nature Tours

  • Ranger-led Walks, various park locations, Phone: +1 207 288-3338, Fax: 207-288-8813, [12]. Ranger-guided walks and cruises.

Swimming

  • Sand Beach
  • Echo Lake beach

Whale watching

  • Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co., 1 West Street, Bar Harbor, Phone: +1 207 288-9800.

Toll free: +1 888-533-WALE, [13].

Buy

Eat

  • Jordan Pond House. Operated by the company which holds the franchise for food and shops within Acadia National Park, the Jordan Pond House, offers okay but overpriced food for lunch and dinner, but is essential for afternoon "tea and popovers". The setting, with a view of The Bubbles up the pond, is delicious, the popovers hot and eggy. Reservations are a must for tea (and even then you'll probably wait 10 or 15 minutes). (2005)

Drink

Sleep

Lodging

  • Pentagoet Inn Bed and Breakfast, Main St., Castine, Toll free: +1 800-845-1701, Phone: +1 207 326-8616, [14]. Has beautifully decorated rooms with Victorian antique furnishings. Offers dining not only at the Inn, but also in the small town of Castine. Offers harbor cruises, kayaking, hiking, golf, tennis, antique shopping, etc.

Camping

  • Blackwoods Campground, Phone: +1 800 365-2267 (reservations), [15]. Open year-round. Reservations [16] are required from mid-June - mid-Sept. 306 sites, no hookup. $20.
  • Seawall Campground, Phone: +1 800 365-2267 (reservations), [17]. Open mid May - Sept. Reservations are not accepted; Seawall is first-come, first-served. 214 sites. $20 drive in, $14 walk-in tent.

Backcountry

Apart from the campgrounds, those looking to see the 'real' Maine can look into more adventurous places to sleep. The Park is full of locations where one can set up a pup tent for the night, although it is advised to do so at discretion, pack light, and leave no trace.

Stay safe

Get out

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