I fell in love with Maine a few years ago. There is nothing average about this state, it is varied and spectacular and adventurous. It is also remote, unique, captivating, and perfect. From what I saw, it has yet to be consumed by the big chain stores that rule suburban life in more populated areas of the US. This fact deeply contributed to Maine’s overwhelming charm. I was surprised, then delighted at how few fast food restaurants and Walmart stores that I found. Not to mention the near absence of semi-trucks clogging the interstate. It was totally refreshing and wonderfully disconnected from the hustle and bustle of big city life.
During our visit, we flew into Portland, rented a car, and hit the coastal roads. To say Maine is blessed with abundant raw beauty and crisp, fresh uncluttered air is an understatement. Plus – they have Acadia National park, truly a nature lover’s heaven on earth. And half the fun is making your way there. We kept our route to the rugged, rocky shoreline and visited every fishing village, sandy beach, and picturesque lighthouse guiding the way through countless harbors and offshore islands. I could seriously write an article just about the lights alone. They are iconic, a fascinating piece of maritime history, and I learned something. Did you know the Pyrex bakeware we all have in our kitchen can trace its origins back to the glass makers of the prismatic lighthouse lens? That makes me want to go bake something.
But hey… this article is about Acadia, so I’ll power on. Exceptional landscapes, stunning seascapes, hauntingly beautiful granite cliffs and rugged coastlines that defy a relentless ocean, it’s the perfect park to experience the bygone days of maritime splendor.
Double that if you visit during a Tall Ship festival.
But there’s so much more. Sand and cobblestone beaches, boundless wildlife, picturesque coves and harbors that soothe the savage city-dwelling beast, Maine offers something for everyone. There are over 120 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of historic carriage paths popular for bike riders, or take a leisurely drive through the jagged coastline and scenic hills of Acadia. Another thing this northern state offers is high-quality natural darkness. If you’re a sky-watcher like me, nighttime offers a whole new level of beauty to enjoy. Acadia is renowned for providing a stunning display of our starry skies and Milky Way. You don’t even need a telescope to enjoy the panorama.
Honestly, I could write this article just using pictures, because words don’t do this park justice. Just look…
SPEC FOR THE TECHIES
~ Acadia is the only National Park in Maine and the first to be established in the east. Originally named Sieur de Monts National Monument in July 1916 by president Woodrow Wilson, it was then changed to Lafayette National Park in 1919. It wasn’t until January 1929 that it became known as Acadia.
~ In terms of size, it’s approximately 47,000+ acres. The largest share is on Mount Desert Island, but it also includes a slice of Schoodic Peninsula on the mainland, and several offshore islands.
~ Cadillac Mountain is the highest point in Acadia at 1,530 feet. It is also the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard. The top of Cadillac is famously known as the first place in the USA to view the winter sunrise from October through March.
~ The park’s spectacular U-shaped valleys and whale back mountain ridges were carved by massive glaciers. As the ice melted, the water left behind formed lakes and ponds, and created the only fjord located on the eastern seaboard, Somes Sound.
National Park website: https://www.nps.gov/acad/index.htm
Acadia Insider Guide: http://www.acadiamagic.com/
Our Acadia: http://www.ouracadia.com/
Downeast & Acadia tourism site: http://www.downeastacadia.com/
Interested in lighthouses? (like really, who isn’t?): https://visitmaine.com/things-to-do/sightseeing/lighthouses/
Cool lighthouse listing: http://www.newenglandlighthouses.net/maine.html
- I recommend September. It’s not as crowded as October when the Leaf Peepers arrive to take in Mother Nature’s grand and colorful display. The weather is perfect, the whales are roaming the seas, and the foliage is already on parade.
- Go see Thunder Hole. It’s where geology meets the sea. Truly an amazing blend of freaky and awe-inspiring.
- Next to beachcombing, tidepooling is my favorite thing to do. When the tide rolls out, sea creatures remain behind in the shallows and crooks of Maine’s rocky coastline. It offers an excellent chance to see starfish, crabs, anemones, sea urchins, barnacles…just remember… never sit or wade in a tidepool. Not only is it slippery with algae, your feet can cause severe injury to marine life. Be adventurous, be courteous, and go see Ship Harbor and Wonderland. If like a challenge, take in Schooner Head.
- You can’t visit Acadia without a stop in Bar Harbor. It is a picturesque seaside town, full of delightful shops, fresh seafood eateries, and stunning views.
- And speaking of tidepool adventures, Bar Island is not to be missed. When in Bar Harbor, wait for low tide, then walk across the natural land bridge that appears when the water rolls out. It’s only open for roughly 3 hours though. So explore, take in the view of Bar Harbor with the mountains behind it, snap photos, commune with nature, and get back across before you’re stranded.
- In Acadia cell phone service is hit and miss (lots of miss).
- Hike the most popular trails and visit the most popular sites early or late. This is true of all National Parks -smaller crowds equal less stress and increased chance of seeing wildlife.
- Always, always, always…Pack It In…Pack It Out. Leave no trace behind.