Labor Day weekend is sure to bring out the masses to Acadia National Park, especially since it was named the No. 1 destination this summer by both readers of USA Today and viewers of Good Morning America.
Here are 5 tips to avoid what can be a maddening crowd:
1) Buy your Acadia National Park pass either early or late at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center (open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through August 31, and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in September) or the Bar Harbor Village Green Information Center (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Columbus Day). Better yet, buy your Acadia National Park pass at one of a dozen other places, as listed on the Acadia Web site:
Sand Beach Entrance Station
Thompson Island Information Center
Ann’s Point Inn
Appalachian Mountain Club, Echo Lake
Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Cottage Street
Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop
Jordan Pond Gift Shop
Mt Desert Town Office
Southwest Harbor and Tremont Chamber of Commerce
2) Take the fare-free Island Explorer bus to avoid the frustration of trying to find parking at the more popular trailheads and sites. A direct bus line was recently added from Hulls Cove Visitor Center to Jordan Pond House, making it that much easier to have tea and popovers or get to the trails near the pond. New bus stops have been added this year for Acadia Mountain, Bubble Rock, Parkman Mountain and the Cadillac North Ridge Trail. Some stops may not be marked on the bus map available for free at local businesses or online, but you can ask the bus driver to let you off, even if it’s not an official stop (as long as it’s safe). Be sure to buy a park pass across from the bus depot at the Bar Harbor Village Green Information Center.
3) Head to less-traveled trails on the quiet side, west of Somes Sound on Mount Desert Island, such as St. Sauveur Mountain, Beech Cliff Loop or Bernard Mountain Loop. Or go to the even quieter sides of Acadia, Schoodic Peninsula or Isle au Haut. All these trails, and many more, are included in our Hiking Acadia National Park book, available at Amazon.com, the Eastern National bookstore at Hulls Cove Visitor Center and Sherman’s Books and Stationery on Main Street, Bar Harbor.
4) Hike the most popular trails, such as the Beehive or Ocean Path, early or late, and you may find yourself the only one on the trail, or face-to-face with a barred owl, as we did one early morning coming off the Beehive.
5) Research in advance things you want to do, to avoid getting in line to ask basic questions about activities. On the Acadia Web site, you can find ranger-led activities as well as links to local Chambers of Commerce. There are free visitors guides available at hotels and other local businesses. And if you are hiking, be sure to understand the trail’s difficulty level and how it matches up with your fitness, experience and gear. You don’t want to become an object of a search and rescue. The park offers a handy list of trails online. And if you are new to hiking, you may find the detailed descriptions in our Best Easy Day Hikes, Acadia National Park, to be particularly helpful. This guide is also available at Amazon.com, the Eastern National bookstore at Hulls Cove Visitor Center and Sherman’s Books and Stationery on Main Street in Bar Harbor.
The less the stress, the more the fun – have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend in Acadia National Park!