You are here

Reader Participation Day: Acadia National Park, or Great Smoky Mountains National Park?


Would you head first to Acadia National Park, or Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Top photo, Acadia's Jordon Pond, bottom photo, Great Smoky's Newfound Gap awash in fall colors. NPS photos.

Glance at a map of the Eastern Seaboard and a number of intriguing national parks jump out: Acadia National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Everglades National Park.

But which one to visit? If you had to choose between Acadia and Great Smoky, which of the two would top your list?

Is this a mismatch from the get-go? After all, Great Smoky is more than 10 times larger than Acadia -- some 520,000 acres vs. 35,000.

Still, the park anchored in the Atlantic on Maine's Mount Desert Island offers a wonderfully unique experience, blending rocky sea coasts and pine-covered granite mountains, sea kayaking and fresh-water canoeing, lobsters and popovers.

Great Smoky, of course, has its own distinct personality of mountains, long-distance hikes, hard-wood coves, leaping streams and brooks, and Appalachian lore.

What say ye, travelers?


I prefer Acadia. We spent a wedding anniversary there in May several years ago. I love the New England feel and the rich history of Bar Harbor. I would like to go back sometime.

I have not been to either, but Acadia is on the top of my list to visit! I can't wait to go!

Acadia for a more "complete", dramatic national park experience, however if I am wanting a more "wild" experience, with strenuous hiking, it would be GSM.

Been to both - Acadia hands down year round, IMHO

I love them both, but if I could only choose one it would have to be Great Smoky Mountains. Being on a trail in those mountains and hearing one of the thousands of streams just gets into your soul. Acadia is beautiful and fun, and I want to go back, but there's just something about the Smokies.

Since I work in GRSM I'd have to say Acadia. I've never been that far North and have heard amazing things about Acadia. I'm a big fan of open granite and being on the water in a boat, something you don't really get either of in the Smokies.

Acadia. No question about it. In the Smokies the people are a lot more concentrated - there aren't that many roads so everyone has to stay on the few that exist. And there are TONS of people. We were there right after Christmas last year and there were tons of people everywhere you went. We sat in traffic for hours on the Cades Cove Loop Road. Another reason NOT to go to the Smokies - Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Seiverville. OMG. It's just gets tackier and tackier. Of course that's why all the people are there! LOL! Fine by me, they can have GSMNP - Sheanandoah is similar in scenery and despite being so close to DC not nearly as crowded!

I have been to both and love both of them but if I had to choose, I would choose Acadia. In fact it is one of my favorite of all National Parks. Why? Because it is small. It feels to me like a more personal and intimate experience. You can really get to know the park more easily than is some of the larger parks.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide