Traffic and crowds in Acadia prompt public hearings

UPDATE 8/29/2015: Deadline for public comment now September 30. See link below to make online comment or find address to mail in comments.

UPDATE 7/31/15: Park extends public comment period to September 16. See link below to make online comment or find address to mail in comments.

If you’ve ever been stuck in a traffic jam atop Cadillac Mountain or found mobs of other hikers on the trails of Acadia National Park, the park wants to hear from you.

crowds in acadia

Crowds in Acadia can make for an unpleasant experience as seen here on the Park Loop Road and Ocean Path. (NPS photo)

In a major planning process that could help shape transportation and public access to the park for years to come, officials are holding two hearings this week to document concerns and get ideas, one at Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor on July 29, and one at Peninsula School in Prospect Harbor on July 30, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“We are looking for public comments – both positive and negative – about how people visit the park and use the roads and trails and the carriage roads. Those are all transportation networks and they are all interlinked. We want you to tell us about your experiences, the good and the bad, and even to the point of what you think we should do about it,” said Charlie Jacobi, resource specialist for Acadia National Park, in an interview with Acadia on My Mind.

And if you can’t make either hearing, the park is taking online and written comments about transportation problems and crowds in Acadia through Sept.30.

With approximately 2.4 million visitors a year coming to a relatively small park, a 350% increase in cruise ship passenger visitation to the park since 2000, and the limits of the current parking and transportation infrastructure, the park is at a planning crossroads for dealing with crowds in Acadia.

Crowds in Acadia a problem atop Cadillac and in other hot spots

cadillac mountain

Between 1989 and 2000, Cadillac Mountain has been the scene of 29 accidents involving large vehicles like buses and RVs. (NPS photo)

In announcing the multi-year planning process, expected to be completed in spring 2018, Superintendent Sheridan Steele said in a statement, “The plan is needed at this time because the concentrated traffic creates public safety issues, severe congestion and crowding, reduced quality of visitor experiences, impacts on the road systems, impacts on the park’s natural and cultural resources, and pressures on the efficiency and sustainability of park operations.”

Among the traffic and crowding hot spots identified in the park’s transportation planning newsletter: Cadillac Mountain, where 29 accidents involving buses or RVs have happened between 1989 and 2000 on the road up or in the parking lot; and the Park Loop Road, where as many as 500 cars – or as much as 40% more than Acadia’s parking lot capacity – can be found parking informally along the roadside during peak times.

To help focus public comments on traffic and crowds in Acadia, these 4 topic questions are listed on the park planning and comment Web page:

  1. What parts of your Acadia experience do you value most?
  2. What transportation-related issues most interfere with your enjoyment of the park?
  3. What transportation-related improvements would you suggest the park implement and why?
  4. What elements of the existing transportation system do you find helpful?
acadia national park traffic

Acadia National Park wants your input on how to reduce traffic jams, like this one on top of Cadillac Mountain. (NPS photo)

Any and all ideas are being entertained, but there are 3 things that will not happen, according to the park planning newsletter: Making the park car-free; instituting a park-wide ferry system; and raising historic bridges to accommodate buses and RVs.

Some ideas to manage traffic and crowds in Acadia already being experimented with, or floated, include: Car-free mornings in the park; a ferry to take cruise passengers to the less-visited Schoodic Peninsula portion of the park; limits to vehicles on Cadillac; expanded Island Explorer bus service; or changes to current parking.

If you care about Acadia National Park and don’t want to see it loved to death, here’s your chance to make your voice heard.


9 thoughts on “Traffic and crowds in Acadia prompt public hearings

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  4. Jim Linnane

    Please update this post to reflect that comments are due by November 30, 2016 at

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  8. Anonymous

    A number of suggestions to relieve or help with over crowding of vehicles in Acadia National Park:
    1) Increase the frequency of check points into and at the park. It is far too easy to enjoy the park without paying for admission. If EVERYONE who visited the park had to pay for admission, the park service would have more resourses to spend on traffic solutions.
    2) Incentives could be used for those who use the shuttles (like a free pop-over or a patch or sticker from the gift shop.
    3) no parking on the park road loop and/or the Jordan pond parking lots without a park pass. If you gave out 100 tickets per day @ $100/ ticket that is a lot of money and/or a lot of incentive for folks to do it right or not at all.
    4) Jordan Pond house is the only restaurant serving the park, causing a bottleneck of traffic and people. Once upon a time there were plans for another teahouse and carriage trail entrance at Eagle lake. Fulfillment of those long forgotten plans could (would) spread out the traffic and visitation. An area near the Brown Mountain gate house could also be considered.
    5) More advertised Ranger hikes, photography hikes and historic hikes on the “quiet” side of the Island would also help distribute crowds and traffic.

    1. Acadia on my mind Post author

      Dear Anonymous, Thanks for the thought you’ve put into these ideas. Hope you will be making these comments on the official park comment page as well? It’s possible to leave out your name on the public comment page, since the park only requires the city, state and ZIP code fields to be filled in.

      We particularly like ideas #1, 2, 3 and 5.

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