We stopped by Seawall for a look around and I saw this mass of children surrounded by seagulls. The one kid had an economy size bag of cheese puffs in her hand and was feeding the gulls this over processed nasty crap. I was so upset.
Please do not feed the animals! It is not good for them, they often get sick. It is also a problem because they start to rely on people for food. When they become intrustive or a nuisance, people find they they have to kill them because they can't correct their behavior. Even though it is all our fault to begin with. So please stop it before it starts, and admire natures amazing creatures from afar
when driving around Mt Desert island, especially near dawn and dusk, be on the lookout for all types of critters in the road. When we were driving around the Loop road around sunrise we saw quite a few deer and bunnies which darted out in front of us. so take it slow and enjoy the scenery.
Maine's coast is rugged for good reason, the ocean can be quite rough at times and the tides are big too. Be aware of this when walking on the beach as the ocean can often suprise you as you walk along a peaceful stretch and before you know it, you are drenched in spray or worse.
The drive up to the top of Cadillac Mountain is a winding road, occasionally with views over the side that made me cringe thinking of just how many times the car would bounce if we went over the edge, definitely not for nervous drivers! Several times I looked over to see Robert clutching the dashboard, I told him that was the worst thing you could do if we went over the side of the cliff as you'd break your arm at the very least. I told him it would be much better to duck and cover his head but this seemed to give him little comfort.
If you are a slow driver, there are several places where you can pull over to let others pass you and it's courteous to do so.
Folks from the Rockies may snigger a bit at what they call a mountain in Acadia (highest is 1,530 feet) but no joke: you will break a very decent sweat getting to the tops and back. Some of the mountain trails are more gradual than others and some have patches of soft soil but a fair amount involve scrambling over boulders for long distances, picking through roots, steep vertical climbs/descents, and open rock faces. Even though they're fairly well marked with cairns and blue paint slashes, you sometimes have to look closely for them (some of the markings are up in trees) and trail signs, when you find them, don't indicate how a trail is rated.
Buy yourself a good hiking map at the Visitor Center and don't rely on the park's freebie version. They've had some trouble with people dismantling cairns - thus the blue paint - but the park does a good job keeping trails as groomed/marked as possible. Talk to a ranger about what routes are best for your ability, wear good boots, bring recommended supplies (camera, water, snacks, first-aid kit, rain gear, matches, knife, etc.) and take it slow. Granite boulders are hard-edged and unforgiving: a serious tumble into a pile of them wouldn't be pretty.
Although there are quieter villages to stay in on Mt. Desert Island, the majority of the visitors come to Bar Harbor, the largest village, for its restaurants, bars, shopping, touring companies, day-cruise outfits, etc. This little town of 5,000 or so swells to several times its size during the summer months. Add the huge cruise ships that unload park-touring/restaurant-seeking masses daily and you've got a serious amount of bodies to contend with. This is, of course, great for business but makes for very crowded roads/stores/sidewalks/parking lots/etc. Parking, in particular, can be a real headache. It's hard on the park, too. Roads within Acadia can be congested and dangerous - buses and cars slow or pull out without warning, drivers are distracted, and idling tour buses, parked right in the roads, block pedestrian's views of passing traffic.
A couple of suggestions if here during summer:
The FREE Island Explorer shuttle (www.exploreacadia.com) is a great, eco-friendly way to get around and solves a lot of parking issues. See their website for timetables and routes. Walking and biking are other best ways to get around - many of the hotels/motels are an easy walk from Main St. Bar Harbor. If driving is a must, hit the most popular spots (Sand Beach, Jordon Pond, Thunder Hole. Cadillac Mt.) early in the morning, then park it and go hiking or biking. It's good for the park and good for you!
Another suggestion is to come during the fall when the leaves start to turn and things are quieter. They still have daily cruise ship crowds but car-tourists are fewer and cruise folk don't fill parking spaces or trails.
A large section of Park Loop Road, from Abbe Museum to the Wildwood Stables/Stanley Brook Road area is a one way. This is OK if you have all the time in the world or are getting your first look at the coastal hot spots (Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, Otter Cliffs, Ocean Trail, etc.). Park Loop, however, is the most congested road in the park and can be very slow going - especially at peak times with cars and tour buses parked-and-blocking in the right-hand lanes of this particular section (allowed when pull-over lots are full). Speed limit is always 35MPH. Do your sightseeing on this piece of road early in the morning, and then refer to a park map for alternate routes to the other park sites.
Suggestion - use Mt. Desert Routes 3, 198, 102, and 233, and other of the smaller public roads to get around the island a tad bit faster.
If you are going to stop and park anywhere within Acadia National Park I strongly advise you to purchase a park pass. You are supposed to purchase a pass even if you simply drive into the Park, but you can probably get away with it if you are just taking a brief driving tour of the Park. However, if you plan to spend any time at all within the park, BUY A PASS!
I can't stress this enough. On two different occasions during the four days we stayed at Acadia we saw park rangers ticketing vehicles that did not have passes. Once there was a whole army of rangers ticketing vehicles in the lots and along the road in front of Jordan Pond House and once we saw rangers ticketing vehicles in a Carriage Trail parking lot.
I don't know how much the tickets were, but you can rest assured that they are more than the $20 pass. Passes are officially required May 1 through October 31st. You can buy a 7 day vehicle pass for $20 or an annual National Parks Pass good at all U.S. national parks for the year for $50.
Walking the shore and looking for stranded sea creatures, sea glass, and what-have-you when the tide is out is a blast but the rocks and piles of wet kelp can be very, very slippery. Shortly after The Husband took this picture, I hit a slick spot and took a nosedive right into a tidepool. He had to come and help get me out as it was too slippery to even stand up by myself!
Stupid me for trying to do this without my boots, eh? So be careful when tide-pooling and wear something with a good tread.The same goes for any rocky surfaces wet from rain, sea-spray, etc.
Air travel carry-on restrictions can be so confusing anymore. If you're flying home through Bangor (or any other airport, for that matter), pack those jars of blueberry jam, microbrews and/or canned seafood purchases in your checked luggage or have them shipped home! Jerry threw some very small, unopened cans of lobster dip in his carry-on and caused a real to-do at the Bangor airport. I think they went over the poor guy with every piece of security equipment they had! Good thing we were there very early or would have missed our flight. Anyway, if it's in a jar, bottle or can, don't even think about stowing it in a carry-on.
While Acadia is blessedly free of dangerous critters, it does have a few bugs. In June the blackflies are supposed to be fierce, and mosquitoes are pesky in July and August: another great reason to go in the fall (almost no bugs at all)!!! Bring your favorite repellent during summer months.
There aren't a lot of dining oppotunities within the park, so bring your lunch, or you'll be stuck backtracking to Bar Harbor to eat. Depending on where you are in the park, this could take a good deal of time, so plan ahead! They even have Lobster Rolls at McDonalds, if that's what your heart is set on.
Acadia National Park, and Mount Desert Island in general, get swamped with tourists in the high summer months, which unfortunately inlcude cruise ship traffic docking in Bar Harbor.
To avoid the crowds; but still enjoy good weather, try to plan your trip in the first two or three weeks in May or the last two or three weeks in September.
Summer in Maine is wonderful... just keep in mind the weather can change very quickly so bring your rain gear just in case.
Watch your step during low tide, these rocks got more slip to it then a ten gallon can of K-Y Jelly. Slippery conditions mixed with rocky cliff equals one horrific death.