About the Site
Acadia National Park  




Mountains and Lakes

Carriage Roads

Stone Bridges


Fall Colors

Trees and Vegetation

City of Bar Harbor



The only national park in New England, Acadia National Park is located primarily on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine. An additional 2,000 acres of the park located is on the mainland on the Schoodic Peninsula across Frenchman's Bay. One of the smallest national parks, at 40,000 acres, it is also one of the most popular, attracting over 5 millions visitors a year. It includes includes a spectacular sea coast and numerous mountains and lakes.

By any standards Acadia is truly a special place. The combination of ocean, islands, wild coast, and some of the highest mountains along the eastern seaboard only five minutes apart is unique. But the beauty is gentle; the park is not awe-inspiring or intimidating, like a Glacier or Grand Canyon, but comfortable and accessible.

Park History

Mt. Desert Island, a favorite summer destination for native Americans who knew it as Pemetic, was spotted in 1604 by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who called it "L'Isle des Mont Deserts"--the island of barren mountains. Beginning in 1844, the island was popularized by Thomas Cole and the "Hudson River School" of painters who flocked to the area to capture its beauty on canvas. As a result of this exposure, the island was adopted as a summer residence by socially prominent and wealthy eastern families such as the Rockefellers, Morgans, Fords, Vanderbilts, Carnegies, and Astors.

Preservation of a large portion of the island as a national park is due in large part to the efforts of one of these residents, wealthy Bostonian George B. Dorr, who from 1901 and for most of his life devoted considerable energy and much of his family fortune to the establishment of the park and acquisition of lands for it. He also served as the park's first superintendent. The park was established as Sieur des Monts National Monument in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson, and by congress as Lafayette National Park in 1919, the first national park east of the Mississippi River. It was renamed Acadia National Park in 1929. Considerable credit must also be accorded to island summer resident and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who donated over 11,000 acres, more than one third of its present total area, to the park. In fact, the park is comprised entirely of land donated by private individuals.

For potential visitors, ParkVision recommends "Story Behind the Scenery" guides and "Trails Ilustrated" maps.

Coast of Mt. Desert Island

Part of the magic of Acadia National Park is the wild, rugged coast of Mt. Desert Island. Here waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash against rocky, tree-lined shores. The picture below shows a portion of the 20 mile Park Loop road, which encircles the east section of the island and park, and the east coast of the island near Thunder Hole.

High points in the eastern section of the park afford views of Frenchman's Bay and the Porcupine Islands, pictured on the left below.Some of these islands are part of the park itself.

Also pictured below are additional views of the east coast of the park and the island, near Thunder Hole and Otter Cove.

The rocky shores are among the most beautiful areas of the park.

Much of the coast of Mt. Desert Island is contained within the boundaries of Acadia National Park, but outside those boundaries are several small towns such as Bar Harbor, Seal Harbor, and Northeast Harbor. Pictured immediately below is the marina at Northeast Harbor, on the south coast of the island.

The city of Bar Harbor, next to the park, provides exceptional views of Frenchman's Bay.

Below is another view of Frenchman's Bay from the shores in Bar Harbor, which is the island's main port and most well known city.

Mountains and Lakes of Acadia National Park

The island contains 17 major mountain peaks. The distinctive appearance of these mountains-treeless at the tops and capped by granite-gave the island its name. These and other physical characteristics of the island were determined by enormous glaciers which sculpted mountains, carved valleys, and gouged basins for lakes. The park includes a dozen glacial lakes and ponds. Below is Breakneck Pond.

Another of the park's water features is Eagle Lake, at 425 acres the largest in the park.

One of the park's most beautiful lakes is Jordan Pond, pictured below.

Below is another view of Jordan Pond, also showing the mountains know as "The Bubbles" to its north.

Below is a picture is of Little Long Pond, looking north toward the park from the former estate of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

While the mountains are not particularly steep or especially rugged, but their shapes provide interesting and colorful silhouettes within the park.

The silhouettes of the mountains are enhanced by the colors of the fall vegetation.

While not particularly high by the standards of mountains of the western national parks such as Rocky Mountain or Sequoia, Acadia's Cadillac Mountain (originally Green Mountain) is the highest point along the Atlantic seaboard north of Brazil at 1530 feet. As such, it is the first place on the east coast of the United States touched by the rising sun. The picture on the left below shows the view toward the west across Sargent Mountain from the summit at sunset.

This picture shows a view of the top of the mountain from within the borders of the park.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

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