Our National Parks Series: Acadia National Park

Acadia Foliage

Autumn Foliage in Acadia National Park, Photo: Dana Moos


Maine’s Acadia National Park is home to over 120 miles of hiking trails and many hidden gems. We asked Ardrianna , a four-year Acadia ranger, to tell us about the places she explores daily and where she would recommend going first.


Acadia Ranger Ardrianna

Acadia Ranger Ardrianna


If someone were planning a visit to Acadia, where would you tell them to go first?

The Visitor Center in Hulls Cove.



Everyone’s perfect visit to Acadia looks a little different. Rangers in the Visitor Center can help you plan an itinerary tailored to your interests and recreational style. Plus, they can tell you what’s happening in the park during your visit. The park offers a wide range of programs for visitors, including special performances and demonstrations. For example, last summer there was a Wabanaki drum performance on the summit of Cadillac Mountain by the Burnurwurbskek Singers. It was a really special experience and if a visitor didn’t stop by the visitor center or pick up a schedule, they probably missed it.


What are five “insider” tips for a trip to Acadia?

1. Get up early, and enjoy the park while it’s quiet.

2. Ride the Island Explorer Bus. During the summer, there can be quite a bit of traffic and the parking can be difficult. If you ride the bus, you can enjoy the view as you ride and you don’t have to find a parking spot. Plus, if you use the bus you can hike from one place to another and not have to figure out how to get back to your car.

3. Come along on some ranger programs. The rangers really know the park. They will point out things that you might otherwise have missed and will share the park’s stories with you.

4. Be prepared for any kind of weather; the weather can change quickly here.

5. Don’t forget the quieter areas of the park like the west side, Schoodic and the outer islands.


What is the most beautiful thing you’ve seen at Acadia?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are many beautiful things in Acadia. I love the fog in the morning, the carriage road bridges, the smile on my daughter’s face when she’s eating blueberries right off the bush, the tiny world of a tidepool, and the spring canopy at Sieur de Monts that leads my imagination back to another time.



Acadia Blueberries

Dorr Mountain at Acadia National Park, Photo: Jue Wang

In your opinion, what is the best time of year to visit?

July and August are the busiest months; if you can come in the spring or fall, it’s quieter, and I love quiet. Of course, it’s also a little chillier then, so plan accordingly.


What kind of wildlife would you recommend looking out for?

Acadia is a great park for birding and a great place for tidepooling. We don’t have a lot of the big wildlife that people associate with Maine – bear and moose are exceedingly rare here – but you may see deer, turkey, porcupine and beaver, especially if you get up early in the morning or take a short walk at dusk.

Do you have any tips on how to not disturb the wildlife during your visit?

Give them their space. A good rule of thumb is if they notice you, you’re too close.


What piece of gear must one never forget when venturing in the park?

Can I cheat and mention a few? You definitely want to bring layers of clothing so you can adjust to sudden changes in weather. Also, good walking shoes or hiking boots are essential. Twisting your ankle on your first hike on a rocky trail doesn’t make for a good vacation, so make sure you’re prepared for the terrain with good footwear. Get a map before you head out on your adventure. If you are hiking alone, be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you’ll return. Please bring water, snacks and sunscreen.


Now it’s your turn – what’s your favorite thing about Acadia National Park? Answer in the comments below, and we’ll donate $1 to our Million Moment Mission.




Comments (15)

  1. Georgia C. | July 26, 2012 | 12:44 pm

    We loved riding bikes on the carriage trails and stopping at Jordan Pond restaurant for a snack and a picturesque view of Jordan Pond. :)

  2. Sam | July 26, 2012 | 1:02 pm

    I loved the sand beach in Acadia, because water pools up behind the beach, and it is shallow enough to wade around in and much warmer than the icy ocean. You also get a phenomenal view of Cadillac mountain. The view from the top of Cadillac isn’t too shabby either.

  3. cathy parker | July 26, 2012 | 1:04 pm

    Waking up @ 4am to go c sunrise on Cadillac Mtn. & hiking the ocean trails & mtn. Trails on the other side of Acadia (thewestern side) less people!

  4. Lori | July 26, 2012 | 1:17 pm

    My favorite thing about the park is how wildly varied the landscape and trails are. In just a few hours you can challenge yourself with a ladder trail, cool off in a lush, mossy gorge, then wade in the gin-clear, bracingly cold water at Sand Beach. It’s all so close together.

  5. Jeffery | July 26, 2012 | 1:32 pm

    My favorite thing is that I have the whole experience in front of me (will be visiting for the first time).

  6. Laura | July 26, 2012 | 2:28 pm

    I really enjoyed tide pooling – once we found a good spot that wasn’t hard to access by foot, it was amazing to see the life teeming in these dynamic environments. We examined mussels, barnacles, and a sea urchin among the many snails and crabs.

  7. Jeff | July 26, 2012 | 3:18 pm

    I would have to agree with Georgia that my favorite activity at the park is biking the carriage roads. There’s no other place that challenges me and at the same time is so rewarding. The views on the carriage roads are really awesome!

  8. HeidiG | July 27, 2012 | 8:09 am

    Hiking on the western side of the island. Beech Mountain, for example, is an amazing place to hike – views of the surrounding area from the top, range of difficulty in trails from easy to challenging (ladder trail at Beech Cliffs) and the natural beauty of Acadia! Tip: Bring a bathing suit and then go swimming at Echo Lake after your hike.

  9. Jessica B. | July 27, 2012 | 8:45 am

    I love the Tarn. You can actually walk from Bar Harbor to the Tarn. Take Ledgelawn Ave to the old fire road, and you go through a gorgeous meadow (I can’t remember the name of it), then head towards the Tarn. Beautiful walk!

  10. Jen H | July 27, 2012 | 10:40 am

    Jessica B. – It’s the Great Meadow! It’s one of my favorite places on the Island, in all seasons (it’s particularly stunning in winter) — and so easily accessible from Bar Harbor. The Hemlock Trail takes you from the Park Loop Road, about 200 ft west of where Ledgelawn/Great Meadow Drive meets it, through the meadow to Sieur de Monts and farther along, to the Tarn and Dorr Mtn. It’s beautiful, and it can be a very easy or more challenging walk depending on your ability and where you want to go!

  11. Susan E. | July 27, 2012 | 7:33 pm

    I’ve been visiting the park since 1965. It’s so hard to narrow down to just one favorite. But I think I have to say…Schoodic Point in the autumn. The colors and textures overwhelm the senses. The soft cool mist as it rolls in off the ocean and settles on the striking red undergrowth of blueberries. The porcupine rustling the dry leaves of the tree he has climbed. The crunch of yellowed ferns underfoot. It is truely a very special place . Inspiring and restorative.

  12. Paul | July 27, 2012 | 7:59 pm

    Riding my bike on the loop road in early spring while it’s still closed to cars.

  13. Chuck Smith | July 30, 2012 | 7:57 pm

    Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain… So worth the early rise.

  14. Amy | August 19, 2012 | 12:01 pm

    The complete serenity of Acadia….Whether on Cadillac before dawn or the rocky coast with that beautiful blue green water crashing constantly. I can’t pick a favorite. I love Mount Desert Island.

  15. nancy | July 17, 2013 | 7:24 pm

    We are travelling from Canada to Acadia next week and will definitely get up for the sunrise. thanks

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