In mid-July John and I headed up to Bar Harbor, Maine – a place that we’ve wanted to visit for years. We’d planned a long weekend to celebrate John’s birthday and have a relaxing getaway. Acadia National Park has been on the Bar Harbor bucket list for a long time; we were really excited to finally visit! And, to make the trip even better, we just so happened to visit right on Acadia’s 100th birthday!
We decided the best way to see Acadia National Park was to take a tour so we booked through Acadia National Park Tours. The tour is a narrated 3 hour bus ride with stops all along Park Loop Road (Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond House, etc). I took a ton of pictures and learned a lot about the park.
Highseas is a historic summer estate in Bar Harbor built in 1912. It is one of only a few summer estates to survive the island’s devastating 1947 fire. It is now owned by the Jackson Laboratory and used as housing for its workers.
Our first stop in the park was at Thunder Hole – a small inlet where, when the waves crash inside, it makes a booming noise that sounds like thunder. We caught it at low tide which was still pretty cool. I definitely want to see it at high tide someday!
Our second stop was at the Jordan Pond House – a restaurant serving tea and popovers in the park since the 1890s. You can enjoy afternoon tea inside in the lovely cafe or outside overlooking The Bubbles (two mountains next to each other).
And speaking of Bubbles, we also caught a glimpse of Bubble Rock from the Park Loop Road. Bubble Rock, or Balance Rock, is a piece of rock that was deposited by glacial activity and precariously balanced here atop South Bubble Mountain.
Cadillac Mountain is located on Mount Desert Island within Acadia National Park and stands at an elevation of 1,528 feet.
A panoramic view from the top:
Also worth a stop in the park is the Acadia National Park Hull’s Cove Visitor’s Center.
It’s about 50 steps up to the Visitor’s Center but worth the trek (even in the rain, for us anyway).
A note here about the Island Explorer – the Island Explorer features 8 bus routes all over Bar Harbor and the surrounding areas that link to downtown, Acadia, campgrounds, hotels, the waterfront, etc. It’s free (thanks to a $3M grant from LL Bean) and environmentally friendly (the buses run on clean propane).
Last but not least, I highly recommend seeing Acadia National Park and the Bar Harbor coast from the water. We booked a boat tour through Acadia Sightseeing Nature Cruises and it was fantastic! Highlight of the trip for me.
We boarded the boat just as the morning rain was clearing out. The rain stopped and we had blue skies for exactly 2 hours while we were on the tour. On the way back to shore it was almost as if we were being chased by the returning the clouds. The timing couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.
Maine has a long and inspiring history. Speeding across the bay, admiring the rockbound coast – it’s hard not to get lost in the majesty and the tradition of this place. Acadia National Park is a perfect example of all of the national parks we’ve been to and loved; a place of solitude, reverence for nature, and enormous beauty that cannot be contained in a photograph, or even in my mind.
At Egg Rock Lighthouse we slowed down to check out the seals and four bald eagles hanging out there!
Just before the end of the tour we were treated to one more up close and personal bald eagle sighting.
In the Acadia Visitor’s Center there is a movie that plays called Acadia Always: The Story of Acadia National Park (click to watch the full movie). In it they speak of wanderers and wonderers who travel in search of the beauty the world holds. Like any place I’ve ever traveled to and fell in love with, Acadia National Park reminded me what it means to be curious and in awe of the world outside my door. It reminded me that there have always been wanderers and wonderers like myself who have kept these beautiful places thriving, and to them I am indebted. But mainly, it reminded me that nature is for all of us and it’s our duty to respect it, preserve it, and share it. I can’t recommend going to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor enough. I hope these photos provide just a small glimpse of this incredible place and encourage you to go see it with your own eyes.