Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful and enchanting natural places on the North American continent. Mountains, islands and ocean combine in a unique sensory splendor that has become the crown jewel of Maine and all of America. Each year, millions of people visit for a memorable vacation and many more hope to. Towns, such as Bar Harbor, are intertwined with Acadia National Park land creating a unique blend of pristine landscapes with a Downeast flavor and character. Once visited, you want to return. Once felt, the experience stays with you forever.
One of the most unique aspects of how Acadia National Park came to be is that it is due to the vision and donations of private citizens. George B. Dorr and Charles W. Eliot anticipated the dangers that over-development would bring to the area and acted quickly to prevent it. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., played a critical role by building the carriage roads (1915 - 1933) and donating over 11,000 acres of land towards what became Acadia National Park. There have been countless others since who have donated their time and resources to help realize this dream so that we may all experience its raw beauty and power.
The national park was established as Sieur de Monts National Monument in July 1916 but then was changed to Lafayette National Park in February 1919. In January 1929, it was officially named Acadia National Park. Today, it encompasses approximately 47,748 acres in three main areas. Most of the park is on Mount Desert Island. To the Northeast is Schoodic Peninsula and to the Southwest (accessible only by boat) is Isle Au Haut. Baker Island (Southeast coast) and Bar Island (near Bar Harbor) also have national park land.
In order to preserve scenic values and define its permanent boundary, the park began purchasing small tracts of land and easements in 1986. True to the spirit of the original vision, many landowners continue this tradition today by placing easements on their property to limit any potential future development.
Rocky coastlines, granite mountains, lakes and ponds, moss and evergreen, crashing waves and abundant wildlife mix with local character and seafood in this magical place. Borders of the park are accented by picturesque harbor villages such as Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor and more. There is a National Park information center on Thompson Island just before crossing onto Mount Desert Island. The main island has two centers. The main Visitor Center is near Route 3 in Hulls Cove and the Park Headquarters & Winter Visitor Center is on Route 233 near Eagle Lake.
The park is home to some 40 different species of mammalian wildlife. Among these are red and gray squirrels, chipmunks, white-tailed deer, moose, beaver, porcupine, muskrats, foxes, coyote, bobcats, and black bears. Species that used to inhabit the island include the mountain lion (or puma) and the gray wolf. It is thought that these predators have been forced to leave the area due to the dramatic decrease in small prey and proximity to human activity. Many other marine species have been observed in the surrounding area and waters.
Best Time to Visit Acadia National Park
The main visitor center is open from mid-April through October, but the park is open year-round. Crowds are most prevalent during July and August, as the park boasts some of the best fall foliage on the east coast. If you are looking for a great cross-country skiing destination, try Acadia in December.