What is Acadia National Park?
Signs display warnings of moose sightings for miles along the highway, alerting drivers to be cautious of the wildlife. Three hours outside of Portland, Maine, trees are visible everywhere you glance, bits of the ocean are sneaking into view. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, waves crash onto the surrounding boulders as seabirds chase the wind’s current overhead. You’re finally in Acadia National Park.
Why is Acadia National Park Worth a Visit?
10. New England’s Only National Park
Acadia National Park is the only national park in New England, and it’s a park to add to the bucket list. Three hours from Portland, Maine, the drive is never boring. As the highway snakes around forested hills, beauty is ever present.
9. Possibility of Aurora Borealis
The northern lights remain ever elusive, so planning a trip around them can often be in vain. With that said, if you’re visiting Acadia in the winter months, you may have a chance of seeing the humbling spectacle. To see the aurora borealis, darkness is a necessity, hence why winter is the best bet. When I saw the northern lights in Iceland, it was late November and there was only six hours of daylight. Monitoring your chances of seeing the lights with the My Aurora Forecast app might be something to consider.
8. Wild Gardens of Acadia
Inland Acadia is home to a number of different plant species, and the Wild Gardens allow you a place to try and see the most popular. Lady’s slipper orchids, pitcher plants, and mushrooms are not uncommon. While entry tips are encouraged, they’re not required. Not only are you able to walk amongst curated paths, but also along the more natural-feeling hiking paths that go on for miles.
Whether you have a passion or disdain for hiking, there are plenty of opportunities for it in Acadia. Acadia’s Main Visitor’s Center, for instance, is located 52 steps uphill. With 47,000 acres in Acadia, there is sure to be a secluded spot to feel enveloped in nature.
6. Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic complements Acadia’s rocky terrain well. Looking out into the ocean, thinking the horizon leads to the ends of the earth doesn’t seem so unreasonable. Here, the harshness of nature reveals itself. Waves crash mercilessly at the boulders, who submit to the damage. Considering nature’s brutality, it remains alluring.
5. Fresh Seafood
While I didn’t indulge, the seafood in Maine is famously mouth-watering. The surplus of fishing boats are hard to miss. Bar Harbor has plenty of boats out at sea, catching the freshest seafood.
4. Lavish Mansions
Admiring the coast, I was only a little surprised to see someone had built a mansion on the edge of a cliff (see top right of picture). Maine is a state any nature lover would be drawn to and a mansion on the coast would be a goal to set for oneself.
3. Breathtaking Rocky Coastlines
As mentioned earlier, the Atlantic’s waves can be brutal. After thousands of years of the Atlantic’s crashing waves, Acadia is left with uniquely cut rock formations.
2. Bald Eagle Sightings
Five minutes inside Acadia, I stopped at this lookout point and was graced with none other than the sighting of a bald eagle. Bald eagles are an endangered species; seeing them over 4th of July weekend was quite the treat for this American.
1. Whale Watching in Bar Harbor
In my article Whale Watching in Maine, I mentioned Bar Harbor is a hub for whale watching. Humpback whales are a regular sight in Maine. With tours in Kennebunkport, Boothbay Harbor, and Bar Harbor, you’re sure to find a tour. Whale watching tours can take several hours, but it’s a pleasure you don’t want to miss.
Acadia National Park is home to wildlife, great seafood, and rough coastlines. If you’re in New England and enjoy nature, this is a trip to consider taking. I originally planned only going to Portland, but I’m thrilled that I didn’t because the two are completely different beasts. I would have completely missed out on the beauty Maine had to offer by solely visiting Portland.