Acadia National Park is located on an island off the Atlantic Coast in Maine. It’s the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi. Maine is an outdoor paradise and so is Acadia National Park. In the park the ocean meets the mountains. There’ a spectacular rocky shoreline; the inner parts of Mount Desert Island consist of woodlands, lakes and mountain ranges.
Acadia National Park comprises only a part of the island. The rest is private land and quaint fishing villages dot the shoreline. The area main commercial hub is the town of Bar Harbor, with its many hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, shops and a wonderful coastal walk. The town makes for a great base to explore the island and Acadia National Park. Other villages of interest are Northeast Harbor, Somesville, Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor. There’s a spectacular lighthouse in Bass Harbor. You should definitely go check that out.
Acadia National Park itself has plenty of highlights. Let’s take a look at them.
1 Park Loop Road
This is attraction number one. The fabulous Park Loop Road is a loop road through the center of the national park. You can enter it at various points – don’t forget to pay your entrance fee! – but the best place to start is at the visitor’s center at Hull’s Cove in the north. About half of the loop road is one way, taking you past all major attractions. It’s only 27 miles long and it’s possible to do it in an hour, but you should count on at least one full day to do it. Your entrance ticket is valid for seven days, so you can also always come back later, in case you missed something.
2 Sieur de Monts Spring
The first stop on the Park Loop Road is the Sieur de Monts Spring. Here you can explore the Wild Gardens of Acadia, a nature garden with all of the native plant species in the national park. You can also visit the Abbe Museum and the covered spring itself.
3 Sand Beach
Sand Beach is one of only two guarded beaches in Acadia National Park. It’s extremely popular in summer and it’s easy to see why. Its soft sand is ideal to take a break and soak up some sun. There’s a great short hiking trail at the end of the beach as well, a loop walk alongside the rocky coastline. At Sand Beach there are restrooms, but no food facilities.
4 Thunder Hole
This natural blowhole is not always performing, but when it is it’s spectacular. The best time to hear the thunderous sounds of the ocean water is at three-quarter rising tide when the ocean is a little rougher. When the ocean is calm, it’s pretty disappointing.
5 Jordan Pond
A downright magnificent lake in the center of the national park, Jordan Pond can be seen from every possible side on the loop hike around it. There are wonderful views of Bubbles as well.
6 Cadillac Mountain
The highest mountain on the northeast coast, the summit of Cadillac Mountain is the first place to watch the sun rise in the entire United States. You can drive to the summit in your car, but it is highly recommended to strap on your hiking boots and hike up. The 360-degree views are totally rewarding.
7 Carriage Roads in Acadia National Park
The old carriage roads were built by private owners – Acadia is one of very few national parks that consist of formerly private land that was donated by the owners. Carriage roads run crisscross through the park and are excellent roads for walking and cycling.