Visiting Acadia National Park
Park Loop RoadWhen most people think about national parks, they think of wilderness in the far corners of the country. Fair enough, but at Acadia, visitors won't have to go too far off the beaten path -- unless they want to. The appropriately named Park Loop Road encircles almost all of Acadia, making many of the its attractions easily accesible by car. It is advisable to check for road closures if visiting during the park's winter season, December 1st through April 14th.
Standing 1,532 feet tall, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the north Atlantic seaboard. Visitors to Acadia National Park often take advantage of its vistas, particularly at sunset, when picturesque Bar Harbor and its neighboring Porcupine Islands are bathed in rosy dusk light. Views are even better during late August and early September, as fall colors come in and compliment the dazzling display. While it is possible to hike to Cadillac's pink granite summit, most people choose to drive to the top. Since the parking lot on the mountain can get pretty jammed, you might consider hopping on a tour bus, especially during peak season.
Sand BeachA sandy beach? In Maine? That's right -- while the majority of Acadia's shorelines are rocky or at least pebbled, at this beach, ocean currents have deposited a fine sand of eroded rocks and broken shells that visitors young and old enjoy season after season. Just be warned that even at the height of summer, the water temperature rarely rises above 53 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to check out another natural marvel of the Maine coastline (without getting too wet), drive out to Thunder Hole. Be careful when the sea is rough, even on the viewing platform -- tragically, people have been swept out to sea by the force of the waves that hit this shoreside rock formation.
Visitor CentersAcadia has two visitor centers. The park headquarters is open year round, and the Hull's Cove visitor center, located on Route 3 in Bar Harbor, is open from April 15th through October 31st. There is an additional information center on Thompson Island that is open from mid-May through mid-October.
Charming Bar Harbor has numerous bars, shops, restaurants and accommodation options catering to a diverse range of budgets. There are hotels, bed and breakfasts and seasonal cottage rentals right in town, but if you're looking to rough it, two main campsites are located on Mount Desert Island. Other lodging is available in neighboring towns on the mainland, but visitors should note that the traffic coming over the bridge on Route 3 can get heavy during high season.