We LOVE Acadia! We have been trying to get here for years. Finally made it and we are very impressed. The scenery and history are so unique. The park is mostly on Mt. Desert Island. A group of private citizens donated all the land that became the first national park in the east. The park was established in 1916.
We stayed at Thousand Trails Narrows Too RV Resort right on The Narrows part of Frenchman Bay. The Island Shuttle is a free bus that stops at the campground and serves routes all over Mt. Desert Island. LL Bean is a major sponsor of the bus. We were immediately impressed by the huge tides of the area.
Bar Harbor is the most well known town on the island. We took the shuttle from our campground direct to the village green of the town. From there we walked along the seafront to see some of the “cottages”. We also walked the “bar” to Bar Island. For a couple hours before and after the low tide the enormous sand bar allows walkers to hike the island. We were shocked how quickly the tide rose and fell.
Loop Road is the must see one way road around the national park. It is best done late in the day to avoid crowds. We stopped at Sand Beach and Thunder Hole – sight of the first park service building.
Southwest Harbor is a little town on Mt. Desert Island. A friend recommended Beal’s Pier restaurant for the best local seafood. It really is a pier restaurant with a huge local following. The lobster, clams and mussels are fresh as can be. We enjoyed a lobster roll. Nearby we stopped at the Seawall picnic ground and 2 hikes along the rocky coast, Wonderland and Ship Harbor. Nearby Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a classic along the rocky coast.
The National Park Service offers a tour boat from Northest Harbor town on Mt. Desert Island to Little Cranberry Island and the little town of Islesford. On the way we passed a lighthouse on Bear Island. Little Cranberry is one of many islands off the coast. It has a small year round population as well as seasonal residents. Very rural with an amazing community of artists. It seems that many fishermen create works of art during the long dark winters.
The carriage roads and bridges are a unique aspect of Acadia NP. The 57 miles of roads were built by John D. Rockefeller Jr between 1913 and 1940 to preserve automobile free areas of Mt. Desert Island. Rockefeller not only financed the construction but took an active role in the design of the roads. He had a landscape architects eye for making the roads complement and enhance the natural landscape. The bridges were each individually designed for maximum effect within the Mt. Desert Island forest setting. We participated in a ranger led walk for an in-depth understanding and experience of the roads and bridges. The nearby botanical garden afforded great views of Northeast Harbor.
Carroll Homestead is a pioneer home preserved by the park service. The day we toured there was an open house which was very unique. Park hosts encouraged visitors to play with toys that would have been used, try on clothing of the era and guess what various tools would have been used for. It was fun.
Cadillac Mountain is the highest coastal Atlantic peak north of Brazil. At 1530 feet its not what we would call real high but the views are incredible and the vegetation is almost Alpine. The road to the top is always busy so we planned to arrive late in the day, after 4PM. Turns out that was perfect, parking spaces were available and there was only one busload of tourists from the cruise ships.
Schoodic Woods is a relatively new campground on the very quiet Schoodic Peninsula east of Mt. Desert Island. We made reservations 5.5 months in advance and could only get the last 8 days they were open. The campground is by all accounts the most beautiful in the entire National Park Service system. We agree. Sights are huge, private, beautifully merged with the native vegetation. Loop B where we camped has electric and water. The only negative is that there is no sewer hookup at the sites, only a dump station. The park service again provides a free shuttle bus to the points of interest on the peninsula. We take pride in the fact that we never used our car during our 8 day stay. The shuttle worked great. We hiked to the town of Winter Harbor. We took the shuttle to Schoodic Point and the former Navy Radio Base which is now an education and research center. The park also has groomed bike trails which are good for hiking. Our finest hike was to Schoodic Head via Anvil Trail. The views were spectacular!
After about 3 weeks at Acadia NP it was time to head south. The campground closes October 8th. We explored the Mt. Desert side and the Schoodic district. We love the peace and quiet of the Schoodic Peninsula and there is so much to do on Mt. Desert Island. We could return many times and never do it all and for us that is the sign of a great destination.