Imagine being able to walk or run the Park Loop Road of Acadia National Park, or bike the Cadillac Mountain Road, and take in the magnificent scenery without worrying about watching out for cars.
Cars ride off into the sunset on Cadillac Mountain Road. They won’t be allowed on the road on a couple of car-free Saturday mornings, in an Acadia National Park experiment to encourage bikers, hikers and others enjoying non-motorized activities.
Visitors can do just that on the mornings of Saturday, May 16, and Sept. 26, up until noon, in an experiment by the park service to encourage more people to experience Acadia on foot, bikes, roller blades or skateboards, as well as to help inform development of a transportation plan to ease park congestion.
Another added enticement: No park entrance fee will be charged the morning of May 16, and the whole day of Sept. 26, National Public Lands Day, will be free.
While the concept of experiencing Acadia car-free seems foreign in today’s car-dominated society, in the days of old, rusticators – or summer residents, tourists and artists – would think nothing of walking 5, 10 or 15 miles in a day, from village to mountains to shore and back.
In fact, many of Acadia’s footpaths were built in the late 1800s, early 1900s, with connector trails linking to the villages of Bar Harbor, Seal Harbor and Northeast Harbor. Experiencing Mount Desert Island on foot was such a part of the lifestyle then, that some summer residents actually opposed construction of the Park Loop Road for automobiles. John D. Rockefeller Jr. helped fund construction of the Park Loop Road to keep automobiles off the carriage roads, which he’d built for horse and carriage use.
While the Island Explorer bus is fare-free, be sure to get an Acadia National Park visitor pass to help support that and other park services. (NPS photo)
With the Acadia Centennial in 2016, perhaps these new car-free mornings, along with the fare-free Island Explorer bus, refurbished village connector trails and other initiatives, can be viewed as part of a larger plan to reconnect visitors and area residents to a simpler, less traffic-congested time, and more directly with nature and the beauty of Mount Desert Island.
In that spirit, here’s a roundup of some of the many ways to experience Acadia car-free, whether in getting to Acadia via public transportation, going by foot from village to shore, or creating unique trips using the Island Explorer bus, among other options. You don’t need to rely on a special car-free Saturday during the shoulder season to harken back to less hectic times. Continue reading