If you’re planning a trip to one of the most beautiful parks in the USA, you’ll need to be prepared. We look at the best time to visit Acadia National Park.
The land of Acadia National Park in Maine has been inhabited for more than 10,000 years, beginning with the Wabanaki people. European fur traders began frequently traveling this land in the 17th century, and by the 1800s, it was a popular vacation spot for wealthy American families.
Lafayette National Park was designated as the first national park east of the Mississippi in 1919 and was eventually renamed Acadia National Park in 1929.
More than 40,000 acres are available for a wide variety of recreational and educational use today. Those wondering when is the best time to visit Acadia National Park will be happy to know they can visit the park year-round. Visitors should check out activities offered by season, seasonal closures, and other important park information.
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Best Time to Visit Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is beautiful any time of the year, but keep in mind things get cold and wet during the winter months. Many roads and trails close in the off-season for safety reasons, so visitors should double-check the park’s website for the most up-to-date information.
But if you are still wondering when is the best time to visit Acadia National Park, September through October is generally the recommended time. This is the sweet spot between the large summer crowds and below-freezing winter temperatures. Changing leaves and crisp ocean air create the perfect atmosphere for hiking, biking, and camping.
You can also visit Acadia in the spring before the summer crowds, but while the temperatures may be pleasant, keep in mind the ground is apt to be soggy due to melting snow and rain.
But some adventurers enjoy a little mud and the fog that comes with cool spring mornings. And some adventurers enjoy hiking and camping on frozen earth huddled near a good fire. Acadia National Park truly does offer a wonderful experience for all types of adventurers.
Planning Your Trip
Acadia National Park is one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the United States. Visitors have 27 miles of historic motor roads, 45 miles of carriage routes, and 158 miles of hiking trails to drive, ride, and hike.
Here’s some basic information you need to know before visiting the park known as the Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast.
Hull Cove Visitor’s Center Hours of Operations: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Daily from May 6 to October 31).
Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center Hours of Operation: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Daily from November 1 to May 5).
Main Road and Beach Open and Close Dates
Schoodic Loop and Point Road: Open year-round
Carriage Roads: Open year-round with seasonal closures
Park Loop and Paved Roads: Open April 15 to December 1
Unpaved Roads: Open May 15 to November 15
Echo Lake Beach: Open May 15 to December 1
Lakewood Beach: Open June 1 to October 15
Sand Beach: Open year-round
Park Passes and Pets
Visitors are required to purchase entrance passes to enjoy Acadia National Park. Passes can be purchased online or in-person at a visitor’s center for individuals or vehicles (which will cover all persons in the vehicle).
Private vehicle (7 days): $30
Motorcycles (7 days): $25
Individual person (7 days): $15
Annual Pass (covers a private vehicle for 12 months) $55
Pets are allowed in most areas, provided they are on a 6-foot or shorter leash. Visit Acadia National Park’s Plan Your Visit page for more information on pet policies, passes, closures, and more.
What to do in the park
Acadia National Park features a wide variety of activities for everyone. Whether you are looking for a relaxing family-friendly trip or a hardcore nature excursion, the national park can accommodate what you’re looking for.
Hiking, biking, and camping are the most popular activities. There are also freshwater and ocean swimming areas to enjoy, as well as plenty of spots for boaters to take out kayaks and canoes. Adventurers can also take advantage of being away from the city lights to enjoy prime stargazing locations.
The park’s natural beauty is available to all to see due to its extensive system of scenic roads. You don’t have to be a hiker to see rugged coastlines, old light stations, and a variety of historical buildings and monuments.
Where to visit in the park
Acadia National Park features a variety of areas from beaches to mountainous hiking trails. Here’s a breakdown of the officially-designated sections.
The East Side of Mount Desert Island is home to two of Acadia National Park’s top attractions – Park Loop Road and Carriage Roads.
Park Loop Road features 27 miles of roadway that provide an unparalleled scenic route of Acadia. Visitors can begin at Hulls Cove Visitor’s Center, and drive the trail throughout mountains, coastline, and lakes. The roadway provides access to landmarks such as the Sieur de Monts monument, Cadillac Mountain, and Otter Point.
John D. Rockefeller funded the historic carriage road system. The famous businessman and philanthropist wanted to create a trail system that allowed for non-motorized travel throughout the park. This 45-mile road system is popular with hikers, bikers, and those on horseback.
East Side is home to a variety of monuments, hiking trails, and popular birding locations. A bus is available for those who wish to sit back and enjoy the sights without having to focus on driving.
West Side is perfect for those wanting to escape the crowds of East Side’s more popular attractions. The Island Explorer bus also runs through the West Side.
Acadia’s Seawall is unique compared to other Maine beaches. The coastline consists of large rocks brought in by the tide, as opposed to the cobblestones that make up most beaches in the state. This is a popular location for stargazing and watching the wildlife around the many tidepools scattered across the area.
The Carroll Homestead was home to three generations of the Carroll Family in the 1800s and early 1900s. The cabin still stands today, providing an insight into what life was like on the island before it became a national park.
The Bass Harbor Head Lightstation is one of three lighthouses operated by Acadia National Park. This is the most visited site on the West Side and parking is limited, so it’s recommended that visitors get there early and be prepared to potentially wait. Bass Harbor Head Lightstation was constructed in 1858.
The West Side is home to some of Acadia’s more rugged and less-traveled hiking trails. It’s a popular destination for those seeking to lose themselves in Acadia’s beauty.
Isle Au Haut
Isle Au Haut was added to Acadia National Park in 1943 and is only accessible by ferry. The island is a popular destination for biking, featuring five miles of paved trails and seven miles of rugged natural trails.
More than 18 miles of trails provide hikers the opportunity to hike through forests, marshes, and rocky coastlines. The island is often cool and rainy, and the trails are difficult, so come prepared with rugged hiking boots, rain gear, and extra socks.
The island offers primitive camping from May 15 to October 13 at its five Duck Harbor Campground sites. Visitors should be prepared for rough conditions with minimal available services.
The Schoodic Peninsula is one of Acadia’s least-visited locations due to its remoteness and is the only section of the national park not on an island.
The peninsula features 8.3 miles of biking paths and 7.5 miles of hiking trails. The campground is open from mid-May to mid-Oct (exact dates vary year to year).
Schoodic Peninsula’s campground is one of the more developed of Acadia’s campgrounds. You’re probably not going to get cellphone reception, but there is a small staffed lodge, seasonal potable water and Internet connectivity, and electrical hooks. Check out the campground’s webpage for more information.
Acadia National Park manages many smaller islands which surround the primary park locations. These islands are unique in that they have permanent communities that have been working there for generations. Only two of the islands are open to public visitation.
Little Cranberry Island is home to the Isleford Historical Museum. The museum opened in 1928 and displays tools and items that showcase the lifestyle of those who historically have called the area islands home. The park offers a Ranger-narrative Isleford Historical Cruise from late May through September.
Baker Island is only accessible by Ranger-led boat tours from mid-June through mid-September. The Gilley family built a homestead on the island in the early 1800s, which the family occupied for more than 120 years and is now open for exploration. Visitors can also explore the nearby Baker Island Light Station. The station was built in 1828.
Conclusion – Best Time To Visit Acadia National Park
September through October is generally the best time to plan your trip to Acadia National Park. You’ll avoid the hordes of tourists, and you won’t have to suffer sub-zero temperatures. It’s the perfect time for getting into the great outdoors and exploring, hiking, camping, biking, and kayaking.