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Must-See Sights in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park: A Captivating Way to Experience Maine’s Beauty

acadia national park, maine, usa
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This National Park is a breathtaking experience on Maine’s rocky coast. Acadia is a favorite destination for adventurous travelers, nature lovers, and vacationing families. 

 Acadia National Park Islands

Most of this alluring national park is on Mount Desert Island. The four awe-inspiring regions of the park include:

  • Mount Desert Island
  • Isle au Haut
  • Schoodic Peninsula
  • Outer Islands

Mount Desert Island

View of rocky cliffs on Mount Desert Island, Maine
Photo by jonbilous on Adobe Stock

Mount Desert Island is the second largest island on our country’s eastern seaboard. The four townships include:

  • Mount Desert
  • Bar Harbor
  • Tremont
  • Southwest Harbor

The year-round population of Mount Desert Island is 10,535. Each township on the island has a unique charisma and amenities to make visitors feel welcome. A substantial portion of Acadia National Park and the villages of Salisbury Cove, Town Hill, and Hulls Cove are on the island. The charming coastal town of Bar Harbor is approximately 11 mi from the park and is one of the country’s most famous places to visit. Bar Harbor was a summer retreat for the nation’s wealthy industrialists during the Gilded Age. 

Aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine. Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, Maine and a popular tourist destination.
Photo by mandritoiu on Adobe Stock

Sailboats and fishing boats bob gently in the scenic harbor. Colorful shops, cafes, and galleries line the tranquil streets. The Shore Path begins at Agamont Park and extends to the island’s eastern shore. Early risers thrill to the sun breaking over the horizon. The brilliant gold and crimson sunset over Frenchman Bay is magical.

MAINE-MT. DESERT ISLAND-TREMONT
Photo by thomas on Adobe Stock

Tremont is a small, serene fishing community on the back side of Mount Desert Island. Bass Harbor Head Light in Tremont is a clifftop lighthouse built in 1858. The lighthouse is open each day until sunset.

Lupines blossom with boat in background on Fernald Point along Sommes Sound near Southwest Harbor, Maine
Photo by Craig A Walker on Adobe Stock

Southwest Harbor on the island’s southwest side is the choice for visitors seeking tranquility. The small town features unique shops, restaurants, and galleries. Choose to stay in a charming inn, bed & breakfast, or vacation rental. Manset offers stunning views of the Cranberry Islands, Sutton Island, and Bear Island Lighthouse.

Isle au Haut 

Sailboat at Island in Maine
Photo by Leon Bredella on Unsplash

Isle au Haut, or High Island, is a lobster fishing community with 75 full-time and some seasonal residents. Most of the island is part of Acadia National Park. Hiking, kayaking, and biking are among favorite activities. Duck Harbor Campground offers primitive camping sites. Isle au Haut is accessible from Stonington by mail boat. Robinson Point Light, or Isle au Haut, is the lighthouse below the tide line that connects to the lighthouse keeper’s house by a walkway. The house is now a vacation rental. Visitors thrill to seals and porpoises frolicking in the surf. 

Schoodic Peninsula

Schoodic Peninsula drive
Photo by Kate Wilcox on Adobe Stock

The Schoodic Peninsula is the only region of Acadia National Park on the mainland. Schoodic Point offers stunning views of Cadillac Mountain and the Atlantic surf pounding the shore.  Schoodic Point is 45 mi from Bar Harbor using coastal roads. Ellsworth, considered one of Maine’s most charming small towns, is 30 miles away on coastal road Route 1.

Outer Islands

Acadia National Park Outer Islands takes some planning, but you’ll see a side of the park that most travelers need to be aware of.

Three Mansions on Maine Coast
Photo by dbvirago on Adobe Stock

Bar Island across Mount Desert Narrows is named for the sand bar between the island and Bar Harbor. Walking between the town and the island at low tide is possible. Bar Island Trail begins on Bridge Street. National Park Service signs lead to the forest. Allow up to two or three hours for your hike to avoid getting stuck when high tide comes in.

ME-ACADIA NATIONAL PARK-BAKER ISLAND
Photo by thomas on Adobe Stock

Visit Baker Island to see two 19th-century homes that are property of the National Park Service. The best way to see the island includes the 1828-era lighthouse and the Cranberry Islands on a park ranger-guided boat tour.

Traveling Around Acadia

acadia, carriage roads, acadia national park
Photo by cmauger on Pixabay

Ways to explore Acadia include 60 mi of coastal roads, 45 miles of carriage roads, and 33 mi of scenic routes. Acadia features 150 mi of hiking trails to explore if you love hiking. 

An Unforgettable Summer Sunrise 

"Cadillac Mountain Sunrise"
Photo by scottevers7 on Adobe Stock

Ascend to the summit of Cadillac Mountain between March and October to thrill to the first sunrise in the country. Sunrise is between 4:30 and 5:30, depending on the month. If you’re not an early riser, head up the 3.5-mile road for the sunset. The Eco Store at the Summit sells gifts made from recycled materials, snacks, and beverages.

Thrill to Star-Filled Night Skies

Milky Way over Acadia
Photo by Harry Collins on Adobe Stock

Living in urban areas with light pollution makes observing the stars in the night sky challenging. One of the reasons more than 3 million people visit Acadia National Park is to view the spectacle of the starry sky. Whether you love warm summer nights or cold weather and more solitude, the park is open year-round. Many people have never observed the wonders of the Milky Way, so be ready to capture some incredible pictures. 

An annual event at Acadia National Park is the Night Sky Festival. The festival was conceived to celebrate Downeast Maine’s starry skies with the arts, education, and science. Acadia National Park’s star-filled skies are among the few remaining in the United States unspoiled by light pollution. The most significant stretch of naturally dark sky east of the Mississippi surrounds Acadia National Park. Conservations are committed to preserving Maine’s starry skies.

Favorite Walking Trails

Historically looking archway bridge on the park loop road in ACADIA NATIONAL PARK.
Photo by Nick Vendetta on Adobe Stock

Park Loop Road is easy to reach from Downtown Bar Harbor. The ocean path features pink granite cliffs and offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The trail between Sand Beach and Otter Point provides breathtaking scenery.

Trails for Experienced Hikers

acadia, national park, maine
Photo by lperron on Pixabay

For incredible views from Beehive Trail and Precipice Trail, hikers must climb to the top using ladders and rungs. The view when hikers reach the top is worth the effort, especially when fall foliage is at its peak. 

Thunder Hole’s name comes from the waves crashing against the rugged cliffs. Visitors feel like they’re experiencing a summer storm. Families with kids will love hiking the Gorham Mountain Trail. The ladder and rungs are kid-friendly, and the views are fantastic.

Jordan Pond and Jordan Pond House

It was our first trip to Acadia National Park.  We took a hike around Jordan Pond and straight up the Bubbles, that you can see on the left of the picture.  It was a beautiful overcast day with a light breeze that kept us cool for the whole hike.  The views down on Jordan Pond from the Bubbles were amazing.
Photo by John Dancy on Unsplash

Venture off the trails and visit Jordan Pond and Cadillac Mountain. The views toward the pond are stunning. Jordan Pond House was built in the 19th century. The stone bridges around the pond and its carriage roads are the most photographed in Acadia National Park.

Acadia National Park is one of the most stunning landscapes on the East Coast. Whether you enjoy walking on the beach or savoring night sky views, there is something there for everyone to enjoy.

If you like national parks, explore Yosemite National Park on the other coast!

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