Guide to Visiting Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is the premier park in the Atlantic northeast. Set on several islands and peninsulas, it features wooded hills surrounded by water and rocky shorelines. 

Visiting Acadia National Park is full of adventure and amazing scenery. There is great hiking and cycling; sailing and kayaking; and swimming and sightseeing. You can visit historic lighthouses and local lobster fishing villages; eat fresh lobster and delicious popovers; and see sea lions and eagles. 

It easily makes the list of the best national parks in the United States

Use this Acadia National Park travel guide to get all the information you need to have an amazing Acadia National Park vacation. 

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Acadia National Park Travel Guide

Acadia National Park at a Glance

  • State: Maine 
  • Main attractions: Wooded hills, islands, rocky coastlines, iron-rung hikes, lobster & popovers 
  • Fun Facts:  
    • Acadia National Park started out as Lafayette National Park (established in 1919).  Its name was changed to Acadia in 1929. 
    • Acadia National Park is one of the top ten most visited national parks each year, but is the fifth smallest park.  
    • Acadia is the only national park in the Northeast and was the first national park created east of the Mississippi River. 

Itineraries for Acadia National Park

Get a one-day, two-day, three-day or four-day detailed itinerary for Acadia National Park here.

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Acadia National Park Guide

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How to Plan a Trip to Acadia National Park  

Planning a trip to Acadia National Park can be overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be.  Use this guide to Acadia National Park for all your Acadia National Park trip planning.  Click on the links below to go to detailed guides and get answers to your questions.

The best option to take away the overwhelm is to pick up a detailed itinerary. I have done all the heavy lifting for you.  Choose from one, two, three or four days. Each itinerary is crammed with detailed driving and hiking maps and hour-by-hour suggestions of what to do and where to go to avoid spending your precious vacation time driving around parking lots or competing with crowds on the trails.  

Get a 1-day, 2-day, 3-day or 4-day itinerary for Acadia National Park here 

How to plan a trip to Acadia National Park

Make planning easier with this step-by-step guide to all you need to think about and do when planning a trip to Acadia.

Read More: HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO ACADIA

Acadia Cadillac Mountain Reservation

There is a timed entry system for the drive up to the top of Cadillac Mountain most of the year. This guide breaks it all down for you. 

Read More: CADILLAC MOUNTAIN RESERVATIONS

Entrance Fee for Acadia National Park 

There is an entrance fee for the park.  Find the latest fees on the NPS website.    

To avoid long lines and save money, if you are planning to visit more than just Acadia this year, it can be great value to purchase an America The Beautiful pass.   

The one-year pass includes standard entrance at all sites managed by the National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers. The pass covers the entrance fee for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle or up to four adults at sites that charge per person.

Get an America The Beautiful pass here

Acadia National Park Entrances 

Acadia National Park is spread over part of Mount Desert Island, the Schoodic Peninsula, and the small Isle Au Haut.   

There are multiple roads that go in and out of the Mount Desert Island sections of Acadia.   There are four entrances to the popular Park Loop Road section of Acadia on Mount Desert Island: 

  1. Hulls Cove Entrance:  Located on Route 3 in the northern part of Bar Harbor
  2. Cadillac Mountain Entrance: Located on Route 233 
  3. Sieur de Monts Entrance: Located on Route 3 south of Bar Harbor 
  4. Stanley Brook Entrance: Located on Route 3 in the town of Seal Harbor 

The Schoodic Peninsula section of the park is located near the town of Winter Harbor off Route 186. 

Isle au Haut is reached by mail boat from the village of Stonington on Mount Desert Island. 

Acadia National Park Visitor Center 

The main Visitor Center is at Hull’s Cove.  See the NPS website for opening hours, as they change seasonally. 


Best Tours of Acadia National Park


Where to Stay In/ Near Acadia National Park 

Places To Near Acadia National Park 

The nearest town for Mount Desert Island is Bar Harbor.  Find accommodations in Bar Harbor here 

For the Schoodic Peninsula, the nearest town is Winter Harbor.  Find accommodations in Winter Harbor here 

Best Airbnbs Bar Harbor

If you’d prefer to stay in a house, cabin or apartment in Bar Harbor, my guide to the best vacation rentals in Bar Harbor has some top pick suggestions. 

Read More: BEST RENTALS IN BAR HARBOR

Best Airbnbs Acadia National Park

If you’d prefer to stay in a house, cabin or apartment near Acadia but not in Bar Harbor itself, my guide to the best vacation rentals near Acadia has some top pick suggestions. 

Read More: BEST RENTALS NEAR ACADIA

Camping Acadia National Park

There are plenty of campgrounds all around – and inside – Acadia National Park.  Here is a definitive list to help you find the best campground for your trip.

Read More: ACADIA CAMPING GUIDE

Places To Inside Acadia National Park 

There are no lodges inside the park, but there are several campgrounds. Find all the Acadia campgrounds here


How to Get To Acadia National Park 

acadia how to get there header

The most common ways to get to Acadia National Park are to drive or fly into one of the nearby airports and pick up a rental car there.  However, there are other options, too. Read this guide about all the ways to get to Acadia National Park for more details.   

Read More: HOW TO GET TO ACADIA

If you need a rental car, find one on RentalsCars.com 

If you’re looking for a flight, find a good deal on Skyscanner 


The Best Airports for Acadia National Park

best acadia airport

There are several airports near Acadia that you can fly into/ out of. This guide gives you the full lowdown on all the nearby airports and the pros and cons of using each of them. 

Read More: BEST AIRPORTS FOR ACADIA

If you’re looking for flights, use Skyscanner to scan the Internet for the cheapest deals.  


How to Get Around Acadia National Park

You can always drive around Acadia – and some places like Cadillac Mountain are only accessible by car.  If you drive, though, go early to secure a coveted parking spot.  You can find a rental car here

The other option is to take the Island Explorer shuttle bus.  Operating in the high season, the free shuttle bus has multiple routes all around and near Mount Desert Island, as well a route around the Schoodic Peninsula that connects with the ferry between Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor.  


The Best Time to Visit Acadia National Park

In general, the best times to go to Acadia National Park are early – mid-June (between the muddy spring season and the crowded summer season); early-mid September (between the crowded summer and the chilly late fall); and mid-October – early November (for the spectacular fall foliage). However, this isn’t the only good time to go. 

acadia when to go

Read detailed information on every season, so you can make the most informed decision for your own trip. 

Read More: BEST TIME TO VISIT ACADIA


How Long to Spend in Acadia National Park

How many days you should go to Acadia for depends on when you have time off, how much time off you have, your budget, and your interests.  I recommend at least four days to see all the main areas of the park, do some hikes, and enjoy other don’t-miss activities. 

How Many Days in Acadia National Park

If you have less or more time, and want to see what you can realistically expect to see and do in that time, this guide has a breakdown for you. 

Read More: HOW MANY DAYS IN ACADIA


Best Hikes in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park has miles of trails and carriage roads.  It’s famous the legendary iron-rung trails, which are not suitable for those with a fear of heights, but there are trails for all comfort levels.

Best Hikes in Acadia National Park

This guide describes the top hikes.  It includes trail details so you can choose the best hikes for you. 

Read More: BEST HIKES IN ACADIA


Travel Insurance for Acadia National Park 

In addition to using this travel guide, Acadia National Park planning should also include travel insurance.  Protect yourself against trip cancellation, loss or theft of your property, or any medical emergencies.   

 A great insurance option is World Nomads. It includes coverage for regular hiking trails.  You can book it here  or get a quote right here: 


Travel Tips for Acadia National Park 

My top three tip for visiting Acadia are: 

  1. Have a plan.  Avoid spending your vacation driving around parking lots looking for a space to park.  Get one of my detailed itineraries – they tell you when and where to go to have the least chance of getting caught in traffic and the best chance of being in the right place at the right time to enjoy the trails and take the best photos.  Get the 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-day itineraries here
  2. Get an early start each day. This is the best way to beat the crowds and have the best light for photos.  
  3. Don’t just stick to Mount Desert Island. The Schoodic Peninsula is much less crowded and equally beautiful. 


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Acadia National Park Travel Guide

About the Author

James Ian Yosemite

James Ian has traveled to 82 countries and all 7 continents.  He has visited all of the main national parks in the United States, as well as many national monuments and state parks.

He has rafted through the Grand Canyon; rappelled down slot canyons near Zion and Arches; hiked among the hoodoos in Bryce and the enormous trees in Sequoia; admired the waterfalls in Yosemite and the colored hot springs in Yellowstone; seen moose in Grand Tetons and seals in the Channel Islands, and much more.

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