At the new Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia National Park, Bill Mulvey paused to admire his site as he and his son, Pat, set up their tent last week.
Mulvey, a retired assistant manager for a supermarket company, said he reserved the site about a month before arriving on a Friday for the weekend and it was the only spot available at the “very popular” campground. Mulvey, of Phoenixville, Pa., and his son, a middle school teacher in Philadelphia public schools, are among people camping at the Schoodic Woods Campground during its first full season of operation.
“It’s beautiful,” he said, pointing to the greenery that buffers sites. “Look at these trees. This is great.”
Located on the dramatic Schoodic Peninsula, the only part of Acadia on the mainland, the 94-site campground opened on Sept. 1 of 2015.
The campground was made possible by an anonymous donation of 1,400 acres south of Route 186 to the park in 2011, preventing it from being developed into a possible resort. The anonymous donor also paid for planning and design, construction and furnishing of the beautiful Schoodic Woods Campground, 100-seat amphitheater, ranger station and visitor center, maintenance building, multipurpose paths, new hiking trails, an underground utility line along the main road and a causeway bike lane and bridge.
During a visit on the actual 100th anniversary of Acadia National Park, July 8 in 2016, campers lauded the new campground which includes 4.7 miles of new hiking trails and 8.3 miles of new bike paths styled after the park’s carriage roads on Mount Desert Island.
“The bike paths are great,” said Eleanor Goldberg of Portland, who teaches English as a second language in adult education. “They are wide.”
Goldberg joined Malcolm Burson, public policy advisor for the Conservation Law Foundation, Cathy Johnson, a project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Jon Luoma, a watercolor painter, for a planned two nights at the Schoodic Woods Campground.
Happy campers at Schoodic Woods Campground – even if no showers
Beverly Rhode-Hillman, retired as a police officer from East Troy, Wisc., her husband, Brian Hillman, a retired chief of staff for Citicorp, and their son, Trevor, traveled from their home in Mukwonago, Wisc., and were enjoying five days at the Schoodic Woods Campground.
They drove to Maine in a Chevrolet truck with a hard shell camper in tow. They rode bikes, took the Miss Lizzie ferry (which used to service Isle au Haut) to Bar Harbor and back, and traveled on the fare-free Island Explorer.
Brian Hillman said a lot of effort and thought was put into designing the Schoodic Woods Campground. He noted the woods that buffer the camp sites and provide privacy.
The campground is remarkable for its clean bathrooms, new Ranger Station to register campers and provide information, 100-seat amphitheater with regular events. It has 33 RV sites with water and power, including 20 pull-through; 50 car tent sites with electric, including 26 listed as for only tents; 9 private hike-in sites with no electric and no open fires allowed; and two group sites.
Showers are practically the only amenity missing at the Schoodic Woods Campground.
“The restrooms are awesome,” said Rhode-Hillman. “Unfortunately, there are no showers for people who stay longer.”
Showers and other camper needs to be met by area businesses
Campers can pay for showers at the Winter Harbor Inn about 3 miles away in Winter Harbor, or at the Mainayr Campground, about 15 miles away in Steuben.
The Winter Harbor Inn charges $20 for up to three people and 45 minutes including towels, shampoo, soap, face cloth and bottled water, while the Mainayr charges $5 per person, according to information at the Ranger Station. People should call for an appointment at the Winter Harbor Inn at 1-207-LOBSTER and the Mainayr is at 1-207-546-2690.
Peter Drinkwater, a real estate broker and also chairman of the Winter Harbor Utilities District, said showers are definitely needed to serve campers. “Everybody knows it is what we need, but no one has pulled the trigger to do it,” he said, adding that he has listed for sale a building at 159 Main St. that he said would be ideal for converting into showers and a laundromat.
Drinkwater, also owner of the Winter Harbor 5 & 10, said the new campground is positive and that everybody loves it.
The history of the campground includes the Lyme Timber Co. acquiring the property in December 2011 and developing the campground under Schoodic Woods LLC in 2013-2015.
In 2013, Schoodic Woods, LLC donated a conservation easement over 1,400 of the 1,600 acres south of Rte.186 to the federal government, allowing the park service to operate the new facilities and manage the land as part of Acadia National Park, according to a press release.
“Schoodic Woods, LLC held several public meetings in Winter Harbor to help develop the plan for the campground and other recreational facilities,” said John T. Kelly, management assistant for Acadia National Park, in a email.
“While I cannot speak for Schoodic Woods, LLC, my understanding is that it wanted to give neighboring towns the opportunity to offer services to campers as a way of stimulating the local economy. Schoodic Woods, LLC also wanted to have the campground offer similar services as Blackwoods and Seawall campgrounds in the park. Along with showers, we expect the demand for laundry facilities, camping supplies, bike rentals, food, etc. to be met by the private sector.”
On Mount Desert Island, the 198-site Seawall Campground and the 275-site Blackwoods Campground don’t have shower facilities and point campers to nearby businesses for fee showers and supplies.
Dave Sampson, a retired fire department captain from Peabody, MA, and his wife, Dale, a children’s librarian for Peabody, said they enjoyed their stay at a pull-through site with their 30-foot Jayco travel trailer and Chevrolet truck. They said they had plenty of space and unlike Blackwoods and Seawall, which have no hookups, the Schoodic Woods Campground includes water and electric on site for RVs.
“It’s all brand new, very clean, very nice,” said Dave Sampson.
“We’ve been here a week,” said Dale Sampson. “It’s great.”
Ranger Bill Jones said sites should be reserved through Recreation.gov. Sites can be offered at the Ranger Station on a limited walk-in basis, if there are openings within 48 hours.
Jones, former owner of a campground in Lakeland, Florida, said the Schoodic Woods Campground has had “high occupancy” this year and very good reviews from campers.
“This is the nicest campground I’ve ever seen and I used to own a campground,” Jones said.
Information to help plan your visit to Schoodic Woods Campground
Other Schoodic Woods Campground reviews: Campbase
I think that the failure to have regular bathhouses in the Schoodic Campground has really given local businesses the opportunity to FLEECE campers for showers. If we go, we intend to periodically move our RV to the dump station to empty the Gray Tanks, we will wash our dishes at the dishwashing station, and we also are going to be using the same waterless bath that NASA Astronauts use in space to save both money and water. I’m sure that many experienced boondockers will do the same.
$20.00 for a shower is an OUTRAGEOUS PRICE. Just think! A family of 4 people would have to pay $40.00 just to take a shower! OUTRAGEOUS!! And even $5.00 is exorbitant when other National Parks that do use private vendors are charging a lot less. For example, the Bathhouses at Shenandoah National Park are operated by a private vendor who only charges $1.75 for a shower, and the Bathhouses are clean and modern. These high prices will cause some people to use dishpans to take “bird baths” in the restroom stalls; it is almost dead certain that the dishwashing sinks will be used to bathe children and babies. Very few will pay $20.00 plus the cost of gasoline to take a shower.
Other than the “NO BATHHOUSE AVAILABLE” issue, I believe that a visit to Acadia will be worthwhile as long as one considers it to be a boondocking sort of place.
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Awesome piece on the new park campground! When the Schoodic Woods Campsites are full, come see us up the road at the new Acadia East Campground https://acadianationalparkcamping.com 🙂
Hi Tom, thanks for the comment! Good to know there are other camping options nearby, especially if Schoodic Woods is full Good luck on the new campground.
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