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Acadia National Park Guide [Where to Go and What to See]

imagine a diverse national park with

mountains woods lakes streams hiking

trails a beach and a beautiful scenic

drive all surrounded by miles and miles

of rugged ocean coastline then imagine

everything being close enough that you

didn't have to drive for hours to get to

each location this is what Acadia

National Park is like hello I'm Mike

Hudson and I'm the author of the

photographers guide to Acadia which is

an e-book for anyone visiting Acadia

both photographers and non photographers

alike that not only shows you the best

places to photograph in Acadia but it

also shows you how to get to any

location by linking every picture to

Google Maps using your smartphone tablet

or computer I want to show you some of

the highlights of Acadia to help you

make the most of your time there whether

you have just a day or two or are

planning a longer visit located off the

northeast coast of Maine more than 3

million people visit the park each year

making it number 8 on the list of most

popular national parks that's a lot of

people for a small park so at times it

does get crowded but even on the busiest

of days if you arrive early enough and

avoid some of the hot spots you can

still find some peace and quiet Acadia

is a relatively small park compared to

places like Rocky Mountain National Park

or Yellowstone but what makes Acadia

different is its accessibility it's an

easy drive to anywhere else on the

island usually in under 30 minutes an

Acadia is blessed with a wide variety of

landscapes all within minutes of each

other so you can spend more time

enjoying the scenery than sitting in

your car most of Acadia is located on

Mount Desert Island a small rocky island

about 15 miles east to west in north to

south only about half of the island

belongs to the Park Service the rest is

privately owned and includes the towns

of Bar Harbor Southwest Harbor Tremont

and Mount Desert there are so many

different places to see in Acadia but I

want to give you just a few highlights

that you won't want to miss to get a

good sense of what Acadia is all about

my number one recommendation is to drive

along the 27 mile park loop road and

allegedly pace and see what the park has

to offer there are plenty of parking

spots along the way including viewpoints

and trail heads there are also several

entry points onto the road but you might

want to start at the holes

Center your Bar Harbor you can also

catch a ride here on the island Explorer

bus which is free and will drop you off

and pick you up at many locations along

the way

check out Explorer Acadia comm for

schedules and routes the most

spectacular part of Park loop road is

Ocean Drive which follows the contours

of the coast pass sand beach thunder

hole and otter cliff from the visitor

center take the one-way road signposted

towards sand beach and just follow the

road from there it can get congested

around sand beach and thunder hole so

you may have to park on the road outside

the main parking areas the beach is open

to swimmers but even on the warmest

summer days the water is still pretty

cold get there early in the day if you

want to avoid large crowds and heavy

traffic over at Thunder hole on a windy

day and at high tide the waves are

forced into a narrow channel to produce

a sonic boom but you have to be there on

the right kind of day in most weather

it's really pretty tame there's not a

whole lot to see at 1530 feet cadillac

mountain is the tallest on the east

coast if you're really into mountains

it's not going to compare to the Grand

Tetons or the Rocky Mountains but for

the East Coast this is big but Cadillacs

real claim to fame is that from October

to March it's the first place in the

United States where you can see the Sun

Rise this means that it's not quite the

first place to see the Sun Rise in the

summer months but it's close enough I'd

highly recommend driving to the top of

Cadillac to see the Sun come up on at

least one of the mornings you're in

Acadia it's an easy Drive but leave

plenty of time to get there

park your car and find a spot to watch

the Sun come up especially in the summer

time it'll get crowded and if you try to

find a parking spot just before sunrise

you'll be disappointed and you might

even be turned away by a ranger if the

parking lots are full check the sunrise

time and plan to beat the summit at

least 45 minutes earlier it can be

pretty cold even in the summer so bring

a jacket or blanket to stay warm

after the Sun comes up you can either

check out more of the park before it

gets crowded or head back to your hotel

or campground and catch a couple more

hours sleep before breakfast for a lot

of visitors Maine conjures up visions of

moose and lonely lighthouses on rocky

coasts well you won't find any moose on

Mount Desert Island but you will find

the best Harbor head lighthouse this is

everything you'd expect from a remote

Maine lighthouse perched on top of a

granite cliff flashing its red beacon

out over the ocean the best time to

visit is at sunset when if you're lucky

the sky behind the lighthouse might

light up in shades of red yellow orange

and purple but it does get crowded here

and there's not a lot of room for people

to park at the lighthouse or to watch

the sunset from the rocks down below I'd

advise you to get there an hour to

before sunset and hope for the best

better yet avoid the sunset crowds and

stop by earlier in the day it's still a

great place to visit

just off Park loop Road Jordan pond is

one of the most iconic locations in

Acadia the site of the distinctive twin

bubble mountains on the other side of

the pond is possibly the most famous

view in the park there's an easy walking

trail that goes around the pond and will

take you about an hour and a half or

more depending on how often you stop if

you're feeling more adventurous about

halfway around the pond there's a trail

that leads up to the top of bubble

mountain there you'll be rewarded with

one of the best viewpoints in all of

Acadia looking out over Jordan pond and

beyond to the Atlantic Ocean back down

near the start of your walk is the

famous Jordan pond house where you can

relax and enjoy one of their famous

popovers or one of their delicious ice

creams one other thing if you're willing

to get up early or stay out late Jordan

pond is one of the most beautiful spots

in the park and can also be one of the

most peaceful places or find one of the

things that really sets Acadia apart is

its carriage roads built in the early

20th century by john d rockefeller jr.

these trails are closed to all motorised

traffic but open to walking and biking

horses and cross-country skiers in the

winter time there are almost 50 miles of

trails along with 17 unique stone

bridges and two large tudor-style gate

houses each of the distinctive bridges

for hand-built and have names like

cobblestone bridge waterfall bridge and

duck

the rocks bordering some parts of the

roads are known as Rockefellers teeth

Eagle Lake Jordan pond and upper Hadlock

pond are all good places to begin a walk

on a carriage road you can also rent

bikes in Farah Harbor or even ride a

horse starting out from the Wildwood

stables near Jordan pond there are so

many places to explore in Acadia

National Park this has really just been

a very quick overview if you have more

time check out sir Domo iCup The Beehive

mountain ladder trail walk around great

head or eagle lake or if you don't mind

the drive visit scooted head an hour

away on the mainland but still part of

the National Park whether you're headed

to Acadia to do photography hike or just

relax and soak up the sights there's

always plenty to do in the partner in

the evening there are dozens and dozens

of great restaurants in and around Bar

Harbor Northeast Harbor and Southwest

Harbor obviously in coastal Maine

seafood is one of the most popular

dishes on the menu we haven't even begun

to get into many of the other activities

you can enjoy an Acadian like rope

climbing off the ocean cliffs whale

watching tours scenic aerial flights

kayaking guided tours and more but

hopefully you've learned a little more

about the park and what's available if

you'd like to read about more places to

see and where to go in Acadia as well as

learn how to take great photos during

your visit check out the photographer's

guide to Acadia at this link