First Things First. When to go?
Since 1916 visitor numbers have grown so that today in summer it can be really, really congested. Even in mid June, when some sights are not even open, many of the popular parking lots (eg at lighthouses & headlands) were full. From late June for 10 weeks or so there is a free (if you have a valid Parks Pass) circular bus service and that is probably the best way to go if you can.
Clearly the real peak is during the very short summer season (mid to late June to early September), if you can visit a few weeks either side I’d say its a good idea! The other trick is to visit the popular places early in the day or later in the evening, when, looking on the bright side(!), its cooler and if you are a photographer, the light is best.
Acadia National Park
What to see and do.
To understand about the island and its history take in Somesville and farmer Somes home, the first farmer on the island. In Bar Harbor there is the Abbe Museum, which if you also visit the Abbe Museum at Soeur de Monts will save you the princely sum of $3!
The small villages of Bass Harbor, NorthEast Harbor and SouthWest Harbor are pleasant and taking the bus or driving around the large ‘one-way’ road offers the views that makes Acadia famous. Go up Cadillac Mountain early or late in the day.
Put on them Walking Boots
Then its time to put those walking boots on and select a few hikes. We did a few including:
- The Great Head circuit -3-4 miles with great views and moderate. I noticed that the headland hikes tend to be busier so if you seek solace, head inland
- Try hiking Flying Mountain, again moderate and as long as you want but try to get to the first viewing point. Spectacular view of the islands facing south
- In Bar Harbor its fun, but watch the timing to go across ‘the bar’ to Bar Island when the tide is out and take the short walk to look back on Bar Harbor.
sFjord or Fjard!
I was pretty sure I had spotted a National Parks typo at Seawater Bay as it described the adjacent sight as a Fjard. That’s wrong I said as any geographer will describe a Fjord as a U shaped, steep sided valley formed by glaciers. Turns out that the Swedes, not having such high sided valleys called their low sided ones Fjards. Never came across this in Sweden or elsewhere so further research needed.
Schoodic Peninsula and its Listening Station
Part of the National Park but not connected is the adjacent Peninsula of Schoodic. You can drive in an hour or two or take the periodic seasonal ferry service from Bar Harbor. It is much quieter, beautiful, complete with rugged coastline and trails. But the surprise for me was stumbling across a US Military ‘listening station’ used during WW2 and The Cold War. Thanks to its north easterly and remote location it could triangulate the position of submarines and later Soviet planes – you can visit a small room and exhibition in what is now a much larger National Parks retreat or educational center.