Acadia National Park’s Top 10 Things To Know Before Visiting This Summer

by Jon D. B.
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Acadia National Park is expecting an incredibly busy summer season this year, so be sure to plan ahead with the park’s ‘Top 10’ summer tips.

Recreate Responsibly! These two words are the name of the game in any national park. But as summer ramps up and the busy season kicks in, NPS’s Recreate Responsibly program becomes more important than ever. In fact, Acadia expects over 100,000 visitors in Memorial Day Weekend 2022 alone. Which is exactly why Acadia National Park has written up a fantastic ‘Top 10 Things to Know before Visiting This Summer.’

Top 10 Things To Know Before Visiting Acadia National Park This Summer

Below, you’ll find expert advice directly from the experts: Acadia officials. But don’t fret, this isn’t a stuffy list of reasons to stay away or any sort of “please don’t come while it’s crowded” declaration. Instead, Acadia National Park welcomes everyone with open arms while going the extra mile to provide great advice to make the most of a summer visit.

1. Arrive with a Plan… And a Back-Up Plan

Acadia welcomed more than 4 million visits in 2021, and 2022 will be another busy year. Start your trip planning at nps.gov/Acadia and consider places to go and things to do. If you’re visiting during peak season (June -October), expect crowds and pack your patience. There may be lines for buses and services. Parking in popular park destinations is also likely to fill up early. (lots typically fill before 9 am).

2. Purchase a Park Entrance Pass

Visitors over the age of 15 are required to have a park entrance pass. If you are parking, don’t forget to display your pass through your windshield. You can purchase your park entrance pass online at Recreation.gov (please print your pass if possible!) or at locations in and around the park. Your fees help us enhance the visitor experience and protect resources at Acadia National Park.

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Park visitors crowd the summit of Cadillac Mountain, one of the most popular spots in Acadia National Park. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

3. Purchase a Vehicle Reservation for Cadillac Mountain

Vehicle reservations are required for Cadillac Summit Road from May 25 through October 22. Purchase vehicle reservations on Recreation.gov BEFORE your visit (and remember to print or download your reservation). Reservations are not available to purchase in person. Vehicle reservations are not necessary for other locations in the park or for visitors who enter the area by foot, bicycle, or taxi.

4.Consider a Car-Free Experience in Acadia National Park

Leave your car at your place of lodging and ride the fare-free Island Explorer shuttle. From June 23 through October 10, the Island Explorer connects surrounding communities with trailheads, campgrounds, carriage road entrances and popular destinations in the park, except for the Cadillac Summit Road.

5. Stay the Night (but make a reservation first)

Advance reservations are required for the park’s four campgrounds. Make your reservation on Recreation.gov—in-person reservations are not available. Backcountry camping, campfires and overnight parking are prohibited outside of designated campgrounds at Acadia.

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Hundreds of visitors flock to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park to watch the sunrise Monday, July 31, 2017. At 1530 ft. Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain along the Eastern Coast of the United States. (Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

6. Drive Responsibly

Remember that you’re sharing the road with motorcycles, bicyclists, pedestrians and sometimes wildlife. Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit for paved park motor roads across Acadia is 35 mph. Slow down, stay alert and always wear your seatbelt. Want to focus on the views? Consider taking the Island Explorer shuttle!

7. Always Play It Safe in Acadia National Park

Have fun, but put your safety first when exploring Acadia. If you’re hiking, study the difficulty of each trail and consider your fitness level before selecting a trail. Carry a trail map with detailed topography and don’t rely on cell connectivity for trail navigation. If you’re swimming, note that swimming in natural areas poses risks. Lifeguards will not be on duty.

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Steep cliffs are commonplace in Acadia National Park, and fatalities do happen. (Photo credit: Getty Images, Outsider)

8. Share the Carriage Roads

Acadia’s carriage roads can crowd heavily in the summer! Whether you’re walking, biking or horseback riding, stay aware of your surroundings and exercise courtesy. Keep to the right and give other visitors a clear warning before passing on the left. Bicyclists must yield to all users; pedestrians must yield to horses.

9. Protect and Leash Your Pet

You’re welcome to explore Acadia with your dog, but they must always be on a leash that is no longer than 6 feet. Pets are prohibited from several trailsSand Beach and Echo Lake Beach for parts of the year, park buildings and ranger-led programs. Always collect and properly dispose of pet waste and never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle.

Bay Ellis of Mt. Desert walks her dog Maggie Rose, 6, a golden doodle, up Acadia Mountain on the quiet side of Acadia National Park off Route 102. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

10. Download the NPS App* for your Acadia National Park Trip

Consider downloading the NPS App* and visit the Acadia National Park page. If you select “Save this park for offline use,” you’ll be able to access information throughout the park. The app includes info on accessibility, things to do, places to get your passport stamp and more!

Got it down pat? Plan the ultimate Acadia summer trip with us right here on Outsider:

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