Another in a series of “Ask Acadia on My Mind!” Q&As
If you have a question about Acadia National Park on your mind, whether you’re a first-time visitor or long-time fan, leave a comment below, or contact us through the About us page. We may not be able to answer every question, or respond right away, but we’ll do our best. See our new page linking in one place all the Q&As.
Wondering about taking the L.L. Bean bus to Jordan Pond House. Do we book ahead? We will be there on 9/21/15. Fees for seniors and where would we board the bus? Thank you. – Nancy Murphy
Thank you for your question, and for visiting Acadia National Park car-free!
The good news is that the Island Explorer – as the bus partly funded by L.L. Bean is known as – is fare-free and requires no reservation, although visitors should pay for a park pass to help defray costs.
Even better news for you: There’s a lifetime $10 Senior Pass for US citizens and permanent residents age 62 and older, giving free entrance for the pass holder and a limited number of companions, to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including Acadia National Park.
So if you already have the Senior Pass, there’s no need to get a separate Acadia park pass. And if you don’t have one yet, it’s easy to get one before you leave home. Or once you’ve arrived at Acadia, it can be purchased either at the main Hulls Cove Visitor Center, the Village Green Information Center or the park headquarters on ME 233.
Taking the bus to Jordan Pond House is easy, too: There are two bus lines that go there, the Loop Road route that originates at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, and the Jordan Pond route that goes between Bar Harbor Village Green and Northeast Harbor. You can hop on and off either bus at any of the stops, and you can even ask the bus driver to make a special stop along the way, if it is safe to do so.
How to take the Island Explorer bus to Jordan Pond House
Through Columbus Day, the Loop Road line leaves from the Hulls Cove Visitor Center every half hour starting at 8:45 a.m., and arrives at the Jordan Pond House in just under an hour. You can also get on the Loop Road line on any of the stops on the Park Loop Road as the bus makes its way over to the Jordan Pond House.
The last Loop Road bus from Jordan Pond back to the visitor center leaves at 4:40 p.m. when you’re visiting, Nancy, so it wouldn’t be a convenient route if you’re going for dinner at the Jordan Pond House on Sept. 21. (The bus runs an hour later through Aug. 31, but probably still too early for dinner at the Jordan Pond House.)
But the Jordan Pond line, which leaves from the Village Green in Bar Harbor, does run later. The last bus leaving the Jordan Pond House for Bar Harbor is at 6 p.m., between Sept.1 and Columbus Day, and at 8:45 p.m. through Aug. 31.
The Jordan Pond bus begins leaving from the Village Green at 9:15 a.m., and runs every half hour. It takes about half an hour for the ride from the Village Green to the Jordan Pond House. This bus line also goes to Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor, so if you happen to be staying in one of those villages, you can take this same bus to the Jordan Pond House.
The Jordan Pond bus is a more direct route than the Loop Road line, and that’s why it takes half the time to go from Bar Harbor to the Jordan Pond House on that bus, than on the Loop Road line. But if you haven’t visited the park before, taking the more leisurely Loop Road bus lets you see some of Acadia’s famed scenery, without the hassle of driving.
The Island Explorer doesn’t provide you a tour guide or a trip up Cadillac Mountain. For that, you would want to take one of the commercial tour buses authorized in the park, Oli’s Trolley or Acadia National Park Tours, which may also stop at Jordan Pond House, but not long enough for you to have a meal.
The Island Explorer is run by Downeast Transportation, and financially backed by the park, the US and Maine Departments of Transportation, local municipal dollars, fees from businesses that receive front-door service, and donations from L.L. Bean, Friends of Acadia and passengers.
The Island Explorer is a great way to get around the park, and has become increasingly popular, carrying a record 503,000 passengers last year, and closing in on 6 million passengers since the shuttle system began in 1999.
Enjoy your visit – and your popovers!