Located on Maine's Mount Desert Island and known for its rugged coastal beauty, Acadia National Park is a gem of the New England outdoors with a coastline comprised of sheer cliffs and sandy beaches. Venture farther inland and you’ll find dense woodlands, vast lakes, and the tallest mountains on the Northeast coast. The park offers endless options for exploration—from catching the first sight of sunrise in the US on Cadillac Mountain to camping on the remote shores of Duck Harbor to hearing waves crashing in the park's famed Thunder Hole inlet.
Acadia National Park contains more than 120 miles (193 kilometers) of historic hiking trails and 45 miles (72 kilometers) of bikeable carriage trails, making it popular among outdoor enthusiasts. Travelers can also go tidepooling, kayaking, or fishing on the coast or at the inland lakes. Visitor permits for private vehicles cost $25, while individuals arriving by bus or on foot must pay $12. All passes are valid for seven days. It’s possible to visit on an overnight tour of Maine from Boston or on a grand multi-day tour of America’s east coast.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Be prepared for traffic during summer’s peak visitation. Beat the crowds by arriving early and buying your visitor’s pass online, or booking a tour in advance.
- The weather is constantly changing on the Maine coast, so be prepared with sunscreen and dress in layers so you can peel off gear when the sun is out.
- The park allows pets so long as they are kept on a leash.
How to Get There
Acadia National Park is 264 miles (425 kilometers) north of Boston or about five hours away by road. Car rentals are available at Logan Airport, as well as Hancock County Airport (15 minutes from the park) and Bangor International Airport (one hour from the park). Parking can be tough during summer months, but you can leave your car where you’re staying and take Oli's Trolley or the fare-free Island Explorer bus into Acadia.
When to Get There
The park is open year-round, although it is most crowded in summer. In autumn, the trees blaze with color and fewer crowds make for ideal bird-watching and hiking conditions. When snow falls, some roads and facilities close, but the terrain is perfect for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
Exploring Downtown Bar Harbor
Complete your visit with a stop (or overnight stay) in this seaside town, located adjacent to the park on the island’s northeast harbor and known as a gateway town to Acadia. Peruse specialty art shops and dine at Main Street restaurants for your fill of fresh seafood and local farm-grown produce. Most guided bus tours to Acadia include time in Bar Harbor with an expert tour guide.