Acadia National Park Things to Do Tips by Stephen-KarenConn Top 5 Page for this destination
Acadia National Park Things to Do: 105 reviews and 168 photos
Stephen atop Cadillac Mountain
At 1,580-feet, Cadillac is not a high mountain, but it is higher than any other point in Acadia National Park, and also the highest point along the entire eastern coast of the United States. The top of the mountain has been worn smooth by glaciers and very little vegetation grows on the rocky summit.
Cadillac is the only mountain peak in the park which can be reached by automobile. Hiking trails also lead to the summit, and during our visit we saw numerous bicyclists climbing up via the auto road. Just below the peak there is a large parking area and also a gift shop. The mountaintop itself is laced with hiking paths which lead to magnificent 360-degree views.
We were so enraptured by Cadillac Mountain that we drove up and hiked around the top twice, so that we could experience the peak both at mid-day and also at sunset.
Eagle Lake from Cadillac Mountain
Eagle Lake is the largest fresh water lake in Acadia National Park. It covers 425 surface acres with a maximum depth of 110 feet and an average depth of 50 feet. The lake may be reached by Route 233 at the north end, but no motor roads lead to most of the lake. However, a 6.1 mile section of the carriage road completely encircles Eagle Lake, making it very accessible to hikers and bikers.
Fishing is allowed. Maine residents 16 years or older, and nonresidents 12 years or older are required to have a state fishing license. Fish include landlocked salmon, brook trout and lake trout. Visitors are also welcome to explore the lake by kayak or canoe. Boat rentals are available on the island; motors over 10 horsepower are prohibited.
The Island Explorer Shuttle Bus also provides a seasonal pickup and drop-off point for those wanting to leave the driving to someone else.
The telephone number below is for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries.
Phone: (207) 434-5925
Jordan Pond Gate House
Two gate houses in Acadia National Park, one at Jordan Pond and the other at Brown Mountain, across from Lower Hadlock Pond, are architectural relics of the carriage roads. Like the roads, these stone structures were built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
The Gatehouse pictured here is just across the road from Jordan Pond. Nearby is one of the places in the park where visitors can hire carriage rides to carry them along the historic roads.
The Acadia Nature Center
The Nature Center is located beside the Seiur de Monts Spring and the Wild Gardens of Acadia. It is a great resource, providing a wealth of information. Here visitors can learn about everything from air quality in the park to the roles fires play and recent wildlife sightings in Acadia. There are several interesting and informative displays. A staff person is on hand to answer your questions.
The center is open mid-June through late September. Admission is free. The Island Explorer Shuttle Bus has a pickup and drop-off point here.
Directions: Two miles south of Bar Harbor near the intersection of the Park Loop Road and Route 3 on Mount Desert Island.
Jordan Pond and The Bubbles
We discovered several "favorite" spots during our 3 days of exploring Acadia National Park. But none holds any better memories than Jordan Pond. We ate at the Jordan Pond House overlooking the water, hiked the 3-mile trail around the shoreline, and reveled in the awesome beauty of a perfect late summer day.
Jordan Pond is a natural glacial lake which can be reached by the Park Loop Road. Whether you spend half a day there as we did, or just stop for a few minutes to drink in the view, it is a MUST stop on any trip to Acadia. This is a beauty spot where natural and human histories intertwine.
In our photo "The Bubbles" can be seen across the water, from near the Jordan Pond House Restaurant. The Bubbles are twin rounded rocky peaks which help create a unique and memorable landscape.
Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park
When conditions of wind, waves and tide are just right, it is said that the crashing of the surf at this blowhole sounds like thunder. We were there on a relatively calm day, and although the scene was beautiful, all Thunder Hole could manage was a low roar.
We still felt that making this stop along the Park Loop Road was very worthwhile. It was enjoyable to walk along the rocky shore. There were a few pounding waves on the rocks which still made an impressive sight - just not quite enough to make thunder on the day of our visit.
Directions: Along the Park Loop Road.
Otter Cove and Otter Point
Otter Cove is one of numerous small inlets, harbors and coves along the Acadia coastline. The Park Loop Road passes this one, and we stopped to explore.
There is actually a beach here, and three or four people were sunbathing. However, instead of sand the beach consists of small rocks polished smooth by the ever-pounding waves and tides. The rocks which encircle the cove above the reach of the tides are jagged and provide a fun place to scramble as we searched for just the right vantage point from which to take a photograph. These rocks help to form Otter Point and Otter Cliff. While we were at Otter Cove, we were entertained by watching fisherman in a lobster boat checking his traps in the Cove.
Directions: Otter Cove is just beyond the Fabbri Picnic Area, on the Park Loop Road.
There are two Abbe Museums, one in downtown Bar Harbor and the other near the Seiur de Monts Spring in Acadia National Park. This tip is about the museum in the Park.
Abbe Museum exists to study and showcase Native American culture and its history in Maine. Descendants of this culture are known today as the Wabanaki or "People of the Dawn." This includes four Indian tribes: the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Micmac and Maliseet.
The Abbe Museum, which opened in 1928, was one of the first museums built in Maine and is the only museum devoted solely to Maine's Native American heritage. Originally, it was conceived as a trailside museum and was the vision and labor of love of Dr. Robert Abbe (1851-1928), an eminent New York physician with a strong interest in archaeology. Today the museum is one of only two remaining private trailside museums in the National Park system.
Archaeological collections at the museum consist of more than 50,000 objects spanning 10,000 years of history. These include many stone based tools such as knives, axes, projectile points and fishing weights. There are also objects shaped from bone such as combs, needles, fish hooks and harpoons; a very rare, 3000 year old flute was made from the bone of a swan. There is also native pottery and more recent collections of beads, copper tools, pipes, jewelry, woodcarving and basketry.
Hours for 2006:
May 25-Oct.16: Open daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
$1 children ages 6-15
Free to Native Americans and Abbe members.
Includes $2 off admission at the Abbe downtown ($1 for children)
Address: P.O. Box 286, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Phone: (207) 288-3519
Karen at Sieur de Monts Spring
Sieur de Monts Spring is intricately linked with the early history of Acadia National Park. It is named for the French nobleman, Pierre Du Gua, de Monts, who was Lieutenant Governor of New France in the early 1600s.
Pierre Du Gua, de Monts, had authority over all of North America from present day Philadelphia to Montreal. In 1603 he was commissioned by King Henry IV “to establish the name, power, and authority of the King of France; to summon the natives to a knowledge of the Christian religion; to people, cultivate, and settle the said lands; to make explorations and especially to seek out mines of precious metals.”
George B. Dorr, the first superintendent of Acadia National Park named the spring and built the spring house (pictured) in 1909. On a nearby rock Dorr carved the words: “The Sweet Waters of Acadia.”
Today the spring is a symbol of the enthusiasm and gallant efforts which brought into being the first National Park in the eastern United States.
Directions: Sieur de Monts Spring is located behind the Nature Center close to where Route 3 crosses over the Park Loop Road.
Cardinal Flowers and Ferns in the Wild Gardens
The Wild Gardens of Acadia, located about miles south of Bar Harbor, is within the boundaries of Acadia National Park and operated by the Bar Harbor Garden Club. The Wild Gardens are comprised of nine separate display areas which reflect the typical habitats that are found on Mount Desert Island. More than 300 native species of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns grow here, all labeled for easy identification.
Karen and I thoroughly enjoyed a leisurely stroll through this magical cool green world on a morning in late August. In addition to the plants we enjoyed seeing butterflies, turtles and other small wild creatures. Also, within an easy walk of the Wild Gardens of Acadia are other attractions including the Abbe Museum, the Nature Center and Sieur de Monts Spring, which I will describe in subsequent tips.
The gardens are open year round. Admission is free.
Directions: Located near the intersection of the Park Loop Road and Route 3.
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