Once again I feel I must begin with an apology. A few of my fellow bloggers have chastised me for not getting any photos of the incredible breakfasts offered by The Manor House Inn for my last post. In my attempts to spend my vacation somewhat “unplugged,” I was not thinking about blogging opportunities throughout my journey. I will assume that this is just one more reason why I will need to return to Maine in the near future.
I hope that I will appease the critics with some pictures of the delectable scenery instead. I’ve traveled to several National Parks around the United States, and Acadia National Park does not disappoint. You can visit the official website here.
One thing I love about this park is its proximity to Bar Harbor. Our B&B was right downtown, but it was less than three miles to the park’s main entrance and Visitors Center. If you’ve ever visited any National Parks in western states, you’ll realize how rare that is. At the north rim of the Grand Canyon, the lodge books up months in advance. We felt lucky to find availability at the nearest accommodation outside the park. The rustic Kaibab Lodge was nearly 20 mile drive from the Visitor Center. The next nearest place to stay was in Jacob Lake, Arizona – 45 miles away!
Acadia is a much smaller park at just under 48,000 acres. To give you some perspective: Rocky Mountain National Park is five times larger; Glacier National Park is 20 times larger; Grand Canyon National Park is a whopping 25 times larger at over 1.2 million acres! Acadia may not give you those endless vistas of canyons and snow-capped peaks, but you will find it a very accessible, user friendly park.
Like all our visits to the National Parks, we started at the Visitor Center. Here you can buy your park pass and gather all the maps and guidebooks that you will need for your stay. As usual there is a short film you can watch that can give you an overview of things to see and do.
The best way to get the lay of the land is to take a drive around Acadia’s Park Loop Road. It is 27 miles long and accesses the most popular sites at the park. The relatively small size of the park makes it possible to see quite a bit in as little as an afternoon on this road. We would have three full days to explore it in more depth but this was a good option for our first day there.
It didn’t take long for the road to display incredible ocean views. We stopped at a few of the overlooks to take in the scenery and snap pictures. At one of the turnouts, a man walked up to us to point out a bald eagle in the trees below. We could see it with our binoculars, but it was too far away for a good photo. We paid the information forward by pointing it out on the next group of people to arrive so they could enjoy the experience too.
Over the years we’ve seen deer, moose, bears, and a lot of other wildlife that we may have walked right past had fellow travelers not alerted us. We often find this type of camaraderie in National Parks and on hiking trails and it never ceases to warm my heart. Everyone is there for the same reason – to experience these glorious places. For a few moments our similarities as humans outweigh our differences as we appreciate the wonders of our planet together.
Along the typically rocky coast, it is a surprise to come upon Sand Beach – which is exactly what its name implies – a beach of soft, powdery sand. You might think that my childhood experience of the freezing temperatures of Lake Michigan would have me prepared to take a dip in the Atlantic, but as I am not a masochist, I passed on the chance. A few brave souls, mostly children, enjoyed splashing around in the water. We chose instead to just walk barefoot in the surf. That was cold enough, thank you very much!
Several trails wind their way along the coast on the cliffs above Sand Beach. Along one of these we experienced another wildlife siting announcement by a co-hiker. This time some whales were visible in the distance. A small crowd gathered as we all searched for the telltale foam of bubbles at the surface of the water. We all laughed as one woman said “well now we don’t have to take that whale watching cruise – I just saved three hours and several hundred dollars!” Someone else moaned “yeah, we took the cruise out of Bar Harbor yesterday and didn’t see a single whale.” Note to self: sometimes it’s best to experience nature naturally, rather than trying to force it.
Further along the Park Loop Road we saw Thunder Hole, a spot where the waves spray up through a narrow gap in the rock and sound like – you guessed it – thunder.
Then on to the peninsula called Otter Point with beautiful views of Otter Cove, and then Little Hunters Beach. I spotted a few houses tucked away among the rocks. Oh to be able to see the views from these homes! When I suggested it might be a possible retirement location for us, Mr. Maid agreed for once, rather than just rolling his eyes.
After that, the road heads inland toward Jordan Pond and Cadillac Mountain. Even though Cadillac Mountain is short by “mountain” standards at an elevation of only 1530 feet, it is known as one of the first places that the sun rises in the United States.
We decide to explore those the next day. Likewise, I’ll tell you about them in my next post.