Do you know how many National Parks there are within 500 miles of Maine?
One. The answer is one.
We went there last weekend, so you don’t have to.
Acadia National Park was established in 1919 as Lafayette National Park, before being christened Acadia National Park in 1929. It was named after the New France colony of the same name that extended over current Quebec and Maine.
Want more educational facts? OK!
It was the first national park established east of the Mississippi.
Ok, no more school.
Colleen and I set off from Portland on Saturday night to spend the night at my parent’s house in Orono, then were woken up bright and early by my eight-year-old sister Sophia burying us in the entirety of her impressive collection of stuffed animals. A little while later my other sister Emily showed up with her sugar daddy John and we headed off to the park.
Acadia sits on Mount Desert Island, covering over 30,000 acres. We stopped in at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center to pick up some souvenirs, including Colleen and I’s customary postcard for our ever-growing collection, ran into an all-Asian acapella group, and piled into John’s car to hit the park.
The 27-mile Park Loop Road runs by almost every major attraction in the park, and its one-way structure makes sure the traffic keeps flowing all day. Unfortunately, the one-way structure does not lend itself to missing an attraction and going back real quick. So we missed the first attraction, the Wild Gardens of Acadia, which gives us a reason to come back.
The first stop ending up being at the famous Sand Beach, a picturesque 290-yard stretch of sand and surf nestled in the rocky shoreline. This is one of the more popular attractions during the summer, however, the water rarely gets over 55 degrees. So you better wear two swimsuits or something.
After that, we piled back into the car and headed up the park road only a few more miles to Thunder Hole. Thunder Hole is one of the coolest spots in my opinion. If you look north, you can see the whole of Sand Beach. If you look south, you see the Otter Cliffs which we’ll get to later. If you look east, you see the ocean. If you look west, you see your car in the lot. And if you get there at just the right time, the rushing tide sneaks into an air pocket in the cliff, creating a sound similar to (you guessed it) thunder. It’s a picture perfect display of the power of nature and is awe-inspiring every time.
Colleen and I did a little rock climbing down the coast from the Thunder Hole spot, and then kept on going down the road. The road is as much an attraction as any of the stops itself, with hundred foot drops to the ocean below and beautiful pine forests on the right.
We got out at the Otter Cliffs next. The Otter Cliffs are the highest headlands north of Rio de Janerio (that’s in Brazil), featuring 110-foot drops to the ocean below. They sure are stunning, and standing on the edge of a cliff watching the Atlantic Ocean assault the coastline below you while the mist drifts up and brushes your face…. well, that’s a pretty awesome moment.
We kept on trucking down the Park Loop Road, all the way around back outside of the park into Bar Harbor. Although about half of the shops were closed since it was so early in the season still, Bar Harbor is always fun to walk around and pop in and out of the neat little shops and restaurants. We ate at the Route 66 diner which, disregarding the abysmal service, gave us a great midday meal to refuel for more adventures.
We set off to the top of Cadillac Mountain and caught a stunning sunset.
We took a ton of photos, played a little Frisbee, and got into a passive-aggressive battle with a 45-year-old man who needed to stand RIGHT in front of us, even though he had an entire summit to spread over. A pretty typical sunset experience.
That night we camped out at the Blackwoods Campground, right in Acadia, and spent a good part of the night sitting on the coast watching the ocean under a full moon. Twas magical.
After that, we had an invigorating dinner of Ramen noodles and then fell asleep for a few hours before waking up at sunrise to watch it from the Cadillac Mountain summit.
Acadia is a National Park for a reason. It’s stunningly gorgeous, accessible by everyone, and has activities and attractions for just about anyone. If you haven’t been, get up and go. Seriously.
What’s that? You want to watch that awesome video again? Me too, let’s do it.
Thanks for reading, and tune in next time for more Livin’ Deliberately fun.