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Acadia National Park

Sunrise, Otter Point, copyright QT Luong,

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QT Luong's picture

Sunrise along Otter Point by QT Luong

I celebrate the splendor and variety of the natural and human heritage with my photography. For the past twenty-five years, I have been privileged to travel, trek, and climb in some of the most remote and beautiful corners of the earth. Laying down in a colorful meadow dense with wildflowers, clinging precariously to a vertical icy mountain face, listening to the silence of desert sand dunes or to the calls of a bustling floating market might seem like very different experiences, however, I feel that they share the same life-affirming benefits.

For more of Tuan's national park images, visit

"Raw, rugged, and surf-splashed" well define Acadia National Park, which at anchor in the Atlantic just off Maine's coast quite easily could also be described as a Yankee blueblood of the National Park System.

While its origins might indeed have had the blue blood of Rockefellers, Astors, and Morgans mixed into the mortar of its foundations, the park that welcomes all today is a refreshing mix of forested mountains and ocean-pounded coasts, of Downeast hospitality and architectural beauty, even of fresh lawbsta, delicious jam-smeared popovers, and afternoon tea.

Acadia is both a gentleman's (and gentlelady's) park where you can enjoy the setting of Jordon Pond over tea and the aforementioned popovers or take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the forests, and a playground for outdoors' enthusiasts. The park offers a wonderful array of activities, from pedaling your bike along the 48 miles of carriage paths that John D. Rockefeller paid for, searching tide pools for sea urchins, sea stars, and anemones, or traipsing up a trail that leads to sweeping views of Frenchman's Bay, the Gulf of Maine, and the Atlantic itself.

The ocean is decidedly cold here, perhaps too cold for an enjoyable swim. But there's great kayaking to be had in the waters that surround Mount Desert Island, and there are some ponds that are more conducive to swimming and canoeing.

Kids don't grow weary of Acadia, though they might grow tired from all the fresh air and outdoors activities. They can search for sea creatures in its tidal pools, go on a boat cruise and listen while a ranger discusses the natural and cultural history of the area, or learn about lobsters or birds of prey that nest on the island's cliffs.

Though small in size when compared to the Yellowstones, Yosemites, and even the Great Smokies of the National Park System, Acadia is never at a loss for ways to entertain you.

Traveler's Choice For: Hiking, tide pooling, biking, paddling, and birding.


Hiking in Acadia

Acadia visitors can easily face a dilemma on their very first day in the park. Should they hike, go to the beach, or pedal through the forests of Mount Desert Island?

Enough hiking opportunities exist within the park boundaries that an entire vacation could be spent on the trail. There are long trails that wend their way up ridgelines to outstanding views (and even lemonade stands), trails that require you to pull yourself up rock faces iron rung after iron rung, and trails that lead to gorgeous overlooks.


Lodging In Acadia

Acadia is a park without any lodging within its borders. As a result, you'll have to look in the small towns -- Bar Harbor, Seal Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Hulls Cove, and Bass Harbor -- that fringe the park.

Bar Harbor, located on the northeast corner of Mount Desert Island right next to the park, is the most prominent "gateway" to Acadia and has a great number of options when it comes to accommodations.


National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide