A First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Acadia National Park

There aren’t any deserts to be present in New England, so the identify of Maine’s “Mount Desert” Island comes as a little bit of a shock to these unfamiliar with it. Right this moment, about half of Mount Desert Island is preserved as Acadia Nationwide Park. It’s one of many smallest but most-visited nationwide parks within the nation. When French explorer Samuel de Champlain first explored the New England coast within the early seventeenth century, he was struck by how barren and treeless this rocky shoreline was. He dubbed it the island of monts-déserts, or “barren mountains.” He wasn’t flawed—the panorama of “Downeast Maine” alongside the Bay of Fundy between the “Mid-Coast” space and the Canadian border is exclusive to the remainder of New England. Right here, lush forests give solution to granite mountains that stand up from the ocean. It’s the very best alongside the jap seaboard this aspect of Rio de Janeiro.

Acadia has a lot to supply guests, and even locals discover themselves returning time and time once more to discover its riches. If you happen to’re enthusiastic about visiting the Northeast’s solely nationwide park this aspect of the Shenandoah Valley, it’s completely well worth the journey. Right here, we’re breaking down profit from your Acadia Nationwide Park journey.

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Courtesy of Go to Maine

get to Acadia Nationwide Park

In the course of the peak summer time months, driving your automotive is handy for in every single place besides the park itself. Sure, you will get from Logan Airport in Boston to the park’s entrance in 4 and a half hours flat. However know that visitors and parking when you’re contained in the park could kill your vibe. If you happen to plan on seeing just a few different components of Maine in your journey (such because the restaurant scene in Portland, or the preppy seaside enclave at Kennebunkport), it’s in all probability finest to drive. In case your sole focus is Acadia, there are just a few different choices.

Regional provider Cape Air affords frequently scheduled flights from Boston to Mount Desert Island. From there, it’s straightforward to take a taxi from the airport to your lodge. And as long as you’re staying in one of many most important villages on the island (there are a number of), it’s straightforward to hop on and off the Island Explorer, a frequently scheduled shuttle bus that drives loops across the island and thru the nationwide park, hitting all the principle spots alongside the way in which. The Island Explorer’s web site additionally has a really helpful “Automobile-Free Journey Information” that lists out the varied choices for public transportation from close by Bangor, Maine, in addition to Boston.

What to anticipate

The temperature in New England, particularly alongside the coast, could be variable. Even within the peak of summer time, chillier nights can get down into the 40s, so undoubtedly pack some layers. This time of 12 months, every little thing is on the desk weather-wise in New England, from dry warmth to excessive winds and even hail. Likelihood is, you’ll be able to anticipate daytime temperatures within the excessive 70s with numerous solar and humidity. Hikers from drier climates is perhaps shocked by how oppressive the warmth can really feel. Pack layers, convey loads of water, make a plan for the place you’re going, and also you’ll be advantageous. The Nationwide Park Service’s Acadia Nationwide Park webpage is a must-read useful resource for path closures, repairs notices, and advisories about which components of the park could or is probably not open at any given time.

By way of the place to situate your self, it’s value noting there are a number of villages on the island of Mount Desert, essentially the most notable together with the charming city of Bar Harbor, and the sleepier Southwest Harbor. If it’s your first time to the island and proximity to the nationwide park entrance is your precedence, go for one thing in Bar Harbor. Southwest Harbor is about 20 minutes away by automotive from the nationwide park (longer in visitors), however, conversely, is far sleepier and extra low key than the customarily crowded streets of Bar Harbor within the peak of summer time.

What to Do in Acadia Nationwide Park

Drive the Park Loop Street

Acadia’s 27-mile Park Loop Street is the quintessential scenic drive, with ocean views, lakeside splendor, and dramatic cliffs in spades. It’s a worthwhile drive in and of itself, however can be essentially the most handy solution to entry most of the park’s most important sights like Sand Seashore, Otter Level, and Cadillac Mountain.

Hiking in Acadia National Park
Courtesy of Go to Maine

Hike, hike, and hike some extra

Did we point out it’s best to hike when you’re right here? There are over 158 miles of mountaineering trails in Acadia Nationwide Park, with choices starting from family-friendly to downright grueling. Essentially the most traditional might be the hike up Cadillac Mountain, particularly at dawn, because it’s among the many first locations within the nation to see the solar rise over the Atlantic.

Whereas the crowds have a tendency to stay to Cadillac (there’s a automotive street that ends on the summit), locals like to summit “The Bee-hive,” a difficult hike that features granite steps, iron through ferrata rungs, and simply sufficient scrambling to maintain issues fascinating. When you attain the highest, nevertheless, you’re handled to views which are pretty much as good as wherever else within the park. You even have solely a fraction of the vacationers. And keep in mind, the Nationwide Park Service’s Acadia web site is a good useful resource for reside updates on which trails could or is probably not closed for repairs.

See Acadia from the water

Mountain climbing trails throughout Acadia Nationwide Park make it attainable to stroll throughout most of the park’s rugged pure options. Seeing them from the water offers a singular perspective to the park’s geography. Catch a journey with Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co., which affords whale watching excursions, puffin excursions, lighthouse excursions, in addition to a from-the-water tour of Acadia Nationwide Park. You’ll see issues that you’d by no means in any other case see from land-based adventures.

Kayak to an oyster farm

OK, Bar Harbor Oyster Firm’s oyster farm won’t technically be throughout the confines of Acadia Nationwide Park. However that is an exercise that completely any customer to Mount Desert Island—particularly those that love meals—ought to contemplate. Aquaculture has exploded in New England lately, and this small domestically owned operation makes use of its farm excursions program to offer a glimpse into the day-to-day lifetime of a contemporary farmer. The tour goes twice per week throughout July and August—word, it books up shortly! You get to kayak out to the corporate’s oyster farm and style some contemporary bivalves plucked straight from the water.

Glamping lodge with string lights at night
Courtesy Picture

The place to remain

Terramor Outside Resort Bar Harbor

As the one full-service glamping property situated on Mount Desert Island, Terramor is the sort of property that would simply relaxation on its laurels. Fortunately, it doesn’t. This out of doors resort takes all of the work out of tenting, so you’ll be able to concentrate on the enjoyable stuff. It’s nearly unfair to name the tents right here “tents.”  They’ve Frette linens, Pendleton blankets, screened-in porches, non-public bogs, and personal fireplace rings. The property additionally has an outside pool and hut tub, and a extremely skilled workers can advise on hikes, canoeing, and biking within the nationwide park. You may also brush up in your outdoorsy abilities like constructing fires and studying path maps. New for this summer time is TerraS’Mores—a rotating menu of connoisseur s’mores equivalent to lobster and brie s’mores, summer time strawberry s’mores, and candied bacon s’mores. You might simply be unable to return to common tenting ever once more.

Queen Anne’s Revenge

Everybody loves a comeback story. The before-and-after footage on Instagram of this inn’s current renovation are nothing in need of jaw dropping. Three neighboring nineteenth century cottages have been reworked into up to date but historic hideaways. They’re definitely some of the fascinating locations to remain on the Maine coast this summer time. No two rooms are the identical, and your keep features a free continental breakfast every morning. On the lookout for one thing extra substantial? The inn is conveniently situated inside strolling distance to all that Bar Harbor has to supply.

West Street Hotel
Courtesy of West Avenue Lodge

West Avenue Lodge

A rooftop pool? In Maine? You wager—and it’s additionally the one pool on the entire island with views into the nationwide park. The lodge’s restaurant Stewman’s Lobster Pound is without doubt one of the finest in Bar Harbor for a traditional Maine lobster bake. In the meantime, the lodge’s pub Paddy’s is a reliably enjoyable place for a nightcap. Be mindful, the lodge is eighteen+. On an island which could be intensely family-oriented throughout the hotter months, it is a welcome reprieve for grownups. And in the event you’re attempting to journey with youngsters, take a look at the lodge’s sister property, Harborside Lodge, the place youngsters are welcome. It’s throughout the road.

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