Acadia National Park

Park Loop Road

After Old Bennington Cemetery Jeff and I continued on our route to Maine. The second big stop of the trip was going to be Acadia National Park. While researching I had read a post somewhere written by a park ranger that if you only had one day in the park you should do Park Loop Road so that was our plan. We have a pretty bad habit of not giving ourselves enough time in National Parks and this time was no exception. But hey, visiting for only a few hours is better than never visiting at all, right?

One half of the loop is one way traffic and the other half is two way. We ended up taking the two way traffic route, getting to the bottom, and realizing that the one way traffic half of the loop was in the opposite direction of what we were heading. We were already tired from being in the car all day, not to mention the fact that traffic was pretty bad on the way into the park. No phone service coupled with poor signage meant it took a very long time for us to find our way back into the loop at the top. I wasn’t even sure if we’d end up trying to do it again just because we had wasted so much time. Eventually we made it in, the correct way, and the beautiful scenery was so worth it.

Our first stop in the park was Thunder Hole, a natural inlet where waves crash in with a thunderous boom. We didn’t actually get to see Thunder Hole because holy tourist city!! but the surrounding area was everything I dreamed Arcadia would be. It was beautiful! Just like the Grand Canyon*, I was kind of surprised how you were just allowed to go wherever you wanted. Some parks are so strict, do not leave the path, but following the lead of just about everyone around us we climbed around on the rocks for a while.

Thunder Hole, NP, Maine, Acadia

After finally making our way around the loop successfully we kiiiind of got trapped inside and made a second full loop. D’oh! Jeff was beyond tired, and we were both ready to just check into our hotel (an hour and a half away!) and sleep but what are ya gonna do?

On our accidental second trip around we stopped at Sand Beach which was just stupid beautiful. I was squatting down to get some shots of the waves when one completely soaked by butt. The water was pretty cold but I couldn’t resist getting the rest of myself wet. The waves were crashing in so I stood in water, about knee deep, and let them hit me. It was perfect. I could have done it hours.

Acadia National Park, maine, acadiaAcadia National Park, passport stamp, np passport

So, Acadia NP could probably label their routes better. I’m sure we’re not the first people to make that mistake, but Park Loop Road is a great way to experience the park when you’re short on time.

*Obviously this is a lot less risky than climbing around at the Grand Canyon but I’m pretty sure it’d still be super easy to get hurt here climbing around. 

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  • Is that the National Parks Passport in the photo third from the bottom? I've been thinking about getting one. How do you get the stamps/stickers? Is that something the rangers have? Thanks!

    • Stop thinking about it, and get one already!

      Seriously, Jeff and I LOVE ours. Its so much fun collecting stamps, and I love the fact that they're dated. They're an awesome souvenir. You get the stamps in park offices, like the welcome station or whatever. Some parks have different ones in each office too so you can get a bunch. The stickers aren't free but are usually like $1.50 and totally optional, obviously.

      It's really silly but it's super satisfying! 🙂

    • I am OBSESSED with my passport as well! Very recommend, much loved. It's so fun to collect them! As cheesy as it is I stupid love it! I also collect patches from each national park and have one of those posters where you put a sticker on each one you visit. I'm a little obsessed.

  • My husband and I went to Acadia during the off season for our honeymoon. It is a risk because it was literally raining everyday of the week. At one point there was a record broken that it rained continually for something like 72 hours! BUT going off season it was dead, so dead I remember doing a K turn at the two way section. I think if I were you I would of done research about their tram service, that does the loop for you and getting off at the front of the Ocean Path that basically walks you I THINK from that Sand Beach, on the cliffs, past Thunder Hole, all the way to Otter Cliff. It is an easy walk, and you can wander on the rocks like you pointed out. I wish you had more of a fun time, because I have a soft spot for Acadia National Park. I use to go ever year when I was little, so I know it like the back of my hand… but the loop is a little annoying/confusing.

    • We were on a serious time crunch even before getting lost, so tram service was a definite no go. Even with our little mishap it was so much easier for us to just drive ourselves around. Plus with the tram we would have never gotten lost or gone through Bar Harbor, and that just added to the experience. 😉

  • I'm glad you made it to Acadia! Your photos are beautiful! I've not really technically been, but I've driven around the island. I'm honeymooning there in a few weeks and I'm so excited to finally explore!
    Unfortunately most of Maine has terrible cell phone service :/ Chimani makes an app for Acadia (and tons of other parks!) and it has a downloadable map in case you get lost and don't have service. I have a feeling I'm going to be relying on that quite a bit.

  • Excellent pictures. Sometimes the mistakes and detours make the trip even more memorable. I went to San Luis Obispo, California recently and got lost trying to find a specific hiking trail. I eventually found a random trail. It was filled with incredible views. ▲ ▲

  • I'm so glad you went there! Rob and I LOVE it there. One year we went, we were crawling all over the cliffs and the tide was out so there was a cliff wall COVERED IN STARFISH!!! It was SO cool.