Traveller By Birth

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how to spend a day in acadia national park

Lucky are those people who live in Maine. If I would be living in Maine, I would have definitely explored every corner and hiked every trail of Acadia National Park. But we were on our ultimate New England road trip for 13 days and had only one day to spare for it. Hence, if you are in situation like mine, then let me tell you how to spend a day in Acadia National Park and make the most of it.

Acadia National Park is one of its kind offering varieties of both mountain and beach views. In just one day, we managed to complete the whole park loop, with spending enough time and relaxing at gorgeous spots in between. I also completed three hikes, two easy and one hard. So, here I am sharing all the details of my day.

Getting There

Maine was the fifth state of our New England road trip. After the coastal drive in New Hampshire, we spent the night in Portland. It was a 3 hours drive from Portland to Acadia National Park. We didn’t want to tire ourselves by travelling that much and also exploring the park on the same day. Hence, we leisurely excavated our way through Acadia National Park by stopping at scenic overlook and having lunch at Panera Bread on the way.

Panera Bread

Penobscot Scenic Turnout

Taking a short break at one particular scenic turnout is must, which comes on the right just before crossing the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.

This is totally un-miss-able. From here I could see the whole Penobscot Narrows Bridge hanging in the air with the cables forming two triangles. The mighty Penobscot river flowing beneath and showing its presence between the innumerable lushness surrounding it. Of course, this scene would look completely different during other times of the year. But I went in summer, hence the colour green dominated wherever the eyes reached.

penobscot narrows bridge

penobscot river

Staying There

There are tons of staying options inside the Acadia National Park, specifically at the Bar Harbor. But, if you haven’t read my previous blogs of New England road trip, then I have to tell you that our whole trip was a spontaneous one and we looked for hotel in the evening only. Since it was summer and Acadia National Park was pretty full with visitors, we didn’t get any affordable option instantly. That’s why we stayed at Ramada in Ellsworth, which was 23 minutes away from the Visitor Center.

Hull’s Cove Visitor Center

First thing to do is to wake up early and start the day. Since, everyone does that while visiting a national park, the queue is long at the ticket counter in the morning. After parking the car, we climbed 52 stairs and reached the Hull’s Cove Visitor Center.

We were going to explore the park in our car itself so we bought the car pass. After, we watched a short film called “Acadia Always” inside the visitor center, I bought my travel magnet souvenir and then, we headed off to wander.

Park Loop Road

The best and easiest way to make the most of Acadia National Park in one day is to follow the Park Loop Road. It covers the most exhilarating part of the park: Bar Harbor (pronounced as Baa-Haaba).

how to spend a day in acadia national park

The park loop road goes through all these points.

  • Wild Gardens of Acadia
  • Sieur de Monts Springs
  • Beaver Dam Pond
  • Champlain Mountain
  • Schooner Head Overlook
  • Sand Beach
  • Thunder Hole
  • Otter Cliffs
  • Wildwood Stables
  • Carriage Road
  • Jordan Pond
  • Bubble Rock &  Bubble Pond
  • Cadillac Mountain
  • Cadillac Mountain Summit Marker

Map

Following is the complete map of the Park Loop Road starting from Hull’s Cove visitor center to the Cadillac Mountain Summit.

Wild Gardens of Acadia

wild gardens of acadia

The garden was in full bloom during my visit in August. It can be described as a mini botanical garden because of the varieties of plants and trees, beautiful flowers of different colours, and different shapes and sizes of leaves. The verdant land of the gardens of Acadia was surrounded by tiny ponds and wooden benches along with the freshness of dew drops.

how to spend a day in acadia national park

Beaver Dam Pond

beaver dam pond

The most gorgeous thing of the Beaver Dam Pond view is the slanting backdrop of trees on the mountain. We were just starting to explore the park and I was already in awe of the raw and natural beauty coming one by one in front of me.

Sand Beach

how to spend a day in acadia national park

If you are someone who cannot decide between beach and mountains, or half of your family wants to hike and half of them want to swim, then Acadia National Park is the best destination to choose.

Even though Sand Beach was too full of enthusiasts, the calm and soothing sound of the beach was powerful enough to drag me close to nature.

Thunder Hole

Ahh!! Thunder Hole!! My most favourite spot of the whole Acadia National Park. It is that point where we spent the most time sitting on the rock and admiring the endless and utmost beautiful view.

thunder hole

Thunder Hole, is aptly named because of the thunderous sound the water makes as it crashes the rocky cliffs. If you closely watch the dissected portion of the cliff, it feels as if God played Jenga here and arranged the flat blocks of stones to form a tall rocky cliff against the ocean.

It wasn’t just me. It seemed like Thunder Hole is THE most popular spot of the park because it was really really crowded. Nevertheless, I did find a tranquil place for myself where I could only see my bright and colourful leggings and shoes contrasting the monochromatic view of clashing waves, dripping rocks and foggy clouds.

thunder hole

As I always share my first experience with my readers on Traveller By Birth, I also share true pictures with my followers on Instagram. After sharing the above picture which became my serene spot at the crowded Thunder Hole, I also wanted to show how much crowded it actually was. Which I did, and after that, the official page of Acadia National Park shared it as well, with my permission, of course.

Otter Cliff and Otter Cove 

Between Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff Overlook, we hiked the Gorham Mountain and Cadillac Cliff. Check out the Hike section down below for more details.

Otter Cliff Overlook gave yet another phenomenal landscape to cherish. If the question still persists that how to spend a day in Acadia National Park, then I have another easy answer to it. Spend the whole day by absorbing the landscape after landscape that you will encounter on each point and overlook.

how to spend a day in acadia national park

Otter Cove became my another favourite spot of Acadia National Park, after Thunder Hole. The park loop road here forms a C-shaped bridge. Too many cars were lined up here for obvious reasons. It became really confusing as in where to look, which frame to admire, which scenery to capture. Otter Cove is 360 degrees of pure pleasure to eyes. The water silently flowing on each side of the road, being sage green in the middle and basil green on the sides with the reflection of the trees from the cliffs.

Wildwood Stables

What else was remaining to expect from Acadia National Park? Oh yes! HORSES!

Cadillac Mountain

Later, we finished the rest of the park loop road, and caught on the Cadillac Summit road which was making its way towards the peak of Cadillac Mountain.

A little before reaching the summit, we stopped at one more point called Blue Hill Overlook.

The day we went to the Acadia National Park was particularly a foggy day. The fog dropped and lifted several times in the day. Sometimes we got a clear view, sometimes we didn’t. Initially it disappointed me a little because we’d travelled miles and the weather didn’t co-operate. But then, sulking over something that can’t be controlled is pointless. Instead, I started enjoying the drastically dramatic views.

After reaching the Cadillac Summit Marker, the fog dropped completely and all we got to see was this. (image below). We waited for quite a long time at the pinnacle, hiked the summit trail and refreshed at the Cadillac mountain gift shop. But, unfortunately, the stubborn fog was there to stay.

how to spend a day in acadia national park

Hikes to do in one day

In addition to completing the whole park loop road, we also managed to do three hikes in one day. Thus, if you are still wondering how to spend a day in Acadia National park, believe me, it is completely do-able and totally not impossible.

Gorham Mountain Trail and Cadillac Cliffs Trail Hikes

Both of these hike trails are inter-connected, so they can be done together. Gorham Mountain is an easy hike of 1.4 KM and Cadillac Cliffs is a moderate one of 0.3 KM, with lots of huge rocks to climb and cross.

The starting point of these hikes is on the Park Loop Road itself, somewhere between Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff.

Cadillac Mountain Summit Trail Hike

This is another easy hike on the peak of Cadillac Mountain. It’s a well paved path between the rocks. In the regular intervals of the trail, there are nicely placed information boards with pictures. They show how the park looks from this point of view in different seasons and time of the day and also depicts some history.

After this last hike, we made a move down towards the exit and bid adios to the Acadia National Park. We stayed at Bangor that night, before continuing to our Maine leg of the ultimate New England road trip.

So, yes, this is my detailed description on how to spend a day in Acadia National Park. The park is huge and there’s still a lot to explore, but I felt contented that I was able to collect enough memories in this one day.

Cinematic Video of Acadia National Park

Head along to watch my cinematic video of Acadia National Park, which always makes me wanting to go back and wander more & more.


Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comment section below. Also, don’t forget to react and share the article.

Keep Exploring!


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