The Magic of the Maine Coast: Acadia National Park

Although the Maine Coast has plenty of attractions to keep you occupied, most people find that the splendors of Acadia National Park inevitably draw them in to stop and explore. Rolling sea waves meet the dark-green mountains at Acadia, providing a veritable treasure trove of wonderful sights and experiences, all just waiting to be discovered.

Over three million people trekked to Acadia during 2016, with more flocking there every year to explore the 49,600 acres of awe-inspiring wilderness. Whether walking and bicycling during the warmer weather, cross-country skiing, or snowmobiling during the colder months, this region of Maine remains a holiday heaven. The stunning natural scenery is not seasonal but an undeniable joy year-round.



The name Acadia resounds throughout history for many reasons. Many Native American tribes, such as the Wabanaki, have called Maine home for centuries. For over 12,000 years they inhabited the land, developing an interesting and unique cultural heritage. The Wabanaki and other tribes fostered cultural traditions respecting nature and promoting harmony with the environment.


The park underwent several name changes since its inception, originally starting out as Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916, before being renamed Lafayette National Park in 1919. It acquired the title of Acadia in 1929, and  it is one of the most popular parks in North America.

The park incorporates three distinctly different sections of land with some very diverse scenery, boasting ocean shoreline, woodlands, lakes and of course, impressive mountains. A great expanse of the park is situated on Mount Desert Island, where over 20,000 years ago, glacial ice sheets flowed over the mountains, forging passages through them and gouging out lake beds and valleys in the process.

Now a collection of seaside villages, private properties and designated parkland, this particular region supports thriving communities that actively strive to maintain the balance between urban encroachment and the natural environment.

In 1947 disaster struck that ultimately resulted in considerable damage to Acadia. A devastating fire nearly decimated the entire area. Over 10,000 acres of parkland lit up in a formidable blaze until firefighters gained control and extinguished the flames. A combination of Coast Guard, Navy, Army, National Park Service employees and committed local residents worked together in a valiant effort to save what remained.



Historians credit Charles Eliot, a landscape architect, as the first person who proposed the idea of creating a park in this area of Maine. However, it was George Bucknam Dorr who spent most of his adult life bringing the dream to fruition. Only Dorr is respectfully and rightfully referred to as the "Father of Acadia National Park.”
Many people shared his vision of conservation, devoting a great deal of time, money and enthusiasm to realize their dream. These pioneering developers focused primarily on protecting the region from over-development and other dangers often associated with an industrialized world.

The wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller. Jr not only donated 11,000 acres of land but also designed, directed and financed the construction of a network of carriage trails, which ran throughout the park.
Beginning in 1915 and continuing through to 1933, construction encompassed over 50 miles (or 80km) of gravel carriage trails, two gate lodges and 17 granite bridges. The park maintains these convenient roads today, making it much easier for travelers to fully immerse themselves in the raw, natural beauty of Acadia.



Home to over 40 species of mammalian wildlife, the park enjoys a wealth of animal activity. Among the many species naturally found within its borders are deer, moose, beavers, minks, foxes, coyotes, bobcats and even black bears. For those who prefer maritime pursuits over trekking on land, the waters surrounding the park are home to a number of unique marine species.

The region plays host to an incredible number of bird species, such as the Golden or Bald Eagles, plus a multitude of owl and hawk varieties. Peregrine falcons nest there during the summer, so many of the trails are closed off to protect them from harm. With so many birds swooping through the skies overhead or showing off their plumed finery, visitors will enjoy visual spectacles that will last a lifetime.

Although they eventually disappeared, cougars and gray wolves once inhabited Acadia as well. Zoologists believe their disappearance is the result of a dramatic decline in small prey and an effort to avoid proximity to humans. Despite the missing predators, the park still has a prolific array of wildlife, another of the many reasons you should explore this little pocket of perfection.

Many exceptionally dedicated and passionate people went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the creation and preservation of this particular parcel of land. Thanks to them, it was a not just a successful project but also a sustainable one, something which future generations will have the luxury of enjoying as well.


Last Word

Acadia is a beautiful and inspiring patch of America, unequivocally worth the time and effort necessary to establish and maintain it. Plan a trip this summer and explore this stunning region of untamed wilderness, rich with beauty and ripe with cultural significance.