Here are some quick facts about Acadia National Park.
- Established : 1916 (as Sieur de Monts National Monument)
- Land Size : 49,075 acres
- Annual Visitors : 3.5 million
- State : Maine
- Entrance Fees : $15 per person, $30 per vehicle
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Where is Acadia National Park?
Located on Mount Desert Island and the surrounding area, Acadia National Park is situated along the central coast of Maine.
It is approximately 40 miles from the city of Bangor, 120 miles from the state capital of Augusta, 170 miles from Portland, and 280 miles from Boston, Massachusetts.
What is Acadia National Park famous for?
Acadia National Park is famous for its rugged coastline and granite cliffs.
The park is often called the crown jewel of the North Atlantic coastline, thanks to its stunning scenery and great diversity of wildlife.
Due to its proximity to Boston and its status as the only National Park in New England, Acadia is one of the 10 most-visited national parks in the country. Its scenic drives, plentiful hiking trails, and fantastic rock climbing opportunities make it a highly popular option for people looking to experience the grandeur of Maine’s rocky shores.
What is the best month to visit Acadia National Park?
The best month of the year to visit Acadia National Park is either August or October.
In August, visitors get the benefit of warm temperatures, sunny days, and relatively few biting insects. However, since August is still during the region’s school holidays, it can be quite busy in Acadia, especially in the local campgrounds and on the trails.
That being said, it’s hard to top October in Acadia, thanks to the region’s magnificent fall foliage. By mid-October, the fall colors in the region are at their peak. Although you’ll have to contend with colder weather and weekend crowds, October is still a fantastic time to visit the park – just don’t forget your heated jacket!
What to do in Acadia National Park?
How many days do I need in Acadia National Park?
Not sure how much time you need for a trip to Acadia National Park?
Here’s some guidance for planning your next adventure to coastal Maine.
3 days (short trip)
For folks that are a bit short on time, 3 days is a good option for a quick trip to Acadia National Park. With a long weekend, you can stay at one of the many campgrounds in or near the park, such as Blackwoods Campground, and use that as a base to explore the region.
Must-see places for a short trip include a hike or drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain (the sunset is particularly amazing), a quick swim at Sand Beach, and an afternoon spent watching the waves crash against the shoreline at Thunder Hole.
7 days (long trip)
A 7 day trip into Acadia is plenty of time to see all of the park’s most popular highlights and then some. In addition to checking out Cadillac Mountain, Sand Beach, and Thunder Hole, a trip to see Otter Cliff is a must.
Even if you’re not interested in climbing, gazing out over some of the tallest sea cliffs in New England is quite the experience. You can also check out some of the less-visited, yet stunning trails on the Schoodic Peninsula or, if you’re okay with heights, the views from the top of the Beehive Trail are hard to beat.
How to get to Acadia National Park?
Acadia National Park is located in a fairly remote part of Maine’s coastal region.
However, the park’s popularity means that there are some great transportation options available for your trip.
- Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport (BHB). The closest airport to Acadia, Hancock County is just 15 minutes from the park’s main entrance. It is a very small airport with only 2 paved runways. From Hancock County, there are multiple daily flights to Boston on prop planes operated by Cape Air and Silver Airways.
- Bangor International Airport (BGR). Located a 1 hour drive from the park, Bangor International is a small airport that offers flights on United, American, and Allegiant airlines. Most flights from Bangor go to major cities in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic, but there are occasional flights to Chicago and cities in Florida.
- Portland International Jetport (PWM). Portland International is the busiest airport in Maine, with flights on nearly every US airline. It is about 3 hours away from Acadia and services flights from most of the US’ major cities, including a short commuter flight from Boston.
- Boston Logan International Airport (BOS). The busiest airport in New England, Boston’s Logan International is approximately a 4.5 hour drive south of Acadia. However, it is serviced by nearly every US-based air carrier and the majority of major international airlines, with flights arriving at the airport from destinations across the world.
- Interstate 95. Acadia is accessible from both the state capital of Augusta and the major metropolis of Boston along Interstate 95, which runs up the coast of Maine.
- US Highway 1A. The closest big city to Acadia, Bangor is just over 1 hour away from the park on US Highway 1A.
- Interstate 295 and 95. From Portland, Acadia is a 3-hour drive north along Interstates 295 and 95.
- Québec Highway 73/173 & US Highway 201. Although you have to cross an international border to get there, Québec City is just 5 hours from Acadia National Park along Québec Highways 73 and 173, as well as US Highway 201.
Important Note : The roads in Acadia National Park are very busy between June and October and parking is extremely limited. If you plan to drive into the park, consider leaving your car at your campsite and taking the free Island Explorer bus line around the park, especially if you have a large vehicle.
Public transport to Acadia National Park is a bit complex, but it is certainly possible.
- From Boston. The easiest option for a car-free journey to Acadia is to fly from Boston to Hancock County Airport. From there, you can access the free Island Explorer bus system, which will take you into Acadia and provide you with easy transportation around the park.
- From Bangor. If you’re flying into Bangor, you can take the Downeast bus line to the town of Bar Harbor on Mondays and Fridays. Once you’re in Bar Harbor, the free Island Explorer bus line has 10 different routes to help you get around the park.
What to see in Acadia National Park?
Despite its status as one of the smallest national parks, there’s no shortage of fun activity in Acadia. Here are some of the best things to see and do during your stay.
Cadillac Mountain is one of Acadia National Park’s most popular attractions. The peak is the tallest along Maine’s seaboard and it is one of the very first places to see the sunrise in the United States during the fall and winter months.
There is a road to the summit of the mountain for those who aren’t quite interested in a 10 mile round trip hike. But, in late fall, a pre-sunrise hike to the summit of Cadillac is an experience to remember.
Otter Cliff is located along the eastern portion of Park Loop Road near the very popular Thunder Hole. The cliff is one of the tallest on the Maine coast, with a 110’ high prominence above the ocean below.
If you love rock climbing, Otter Cliff is a must-visit destination as there are few other places in the eastern US where you can climb while getting sprayed by ocean mist. Alternatively, there are plenty of great guide services in the area that are happy to take you out for a day of climbing at Otter Cliff if you’re interested in learning the ropes.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Marking the entrance to Bass Harbor, the aptly named Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a 19th century lighthouse that’s still in use to this day. Visitors can check out the lighthouse’s original bell and light via a short walk from the town of Bass Harbor. The lighthouse is particularly beautiful at sunset, due to its picturesque location on top of a rocky outcropping.
Thunder hole is located just down the road from Otter Cliff on the eastern side of the park. Showcasing the true power of the sea, Thunder Hole is a small naturally carved inlet on Mount Desert Island’s shoreline that lets out a deafening sound after each incoming wave.
You can get fairly close to the hole on a well-maintained path, but, on a windy day, be prepared for the 40’ high splash that often follows each thunderous roar!
Appropriately named, Sand Beach is, indeed, a sandy beach located in Acadia National Park. It is approximately 900’ long and offers some of the only sandy coastline in the entire region.
This makes it an ideal swimming hole during the summer months, though be warned – there are no warm tropical waters around these parts.
Gaby is a professional mountain guide with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She works primarily in the polar regions as an expedition guide, though she can be found hiking, climbing, skiing, sailing, or paddling in some of the world’s most amazing places when not at work.