UPDATE: The NPS Regional Director approved the total $6 fee for each vehicle, and vehicle reservations went on sale beginning Thursday, April 1. Vehicle reservations are required for Cadillac Summit Road from May 26 through Oct. 19.
Acadia National Park leaders are defending a proposed $6 fee for each car on Cadillac Mountain, saying all the money raised would go back into operating a new system for vehicle reservations to improve parking on the peak.
Traffic jams like this one on Cadillac Mountain are a major reason that Acadia National Park is starting a vehicle reservation system. (NPS photo)
In January, the National Park Service announced that it wants to charge $6 for each vehicle to go up and park on Cadillac, the highest peak on the US Atlantic coast. The proposed fee is three times the $2 charge in a trial run of the reservation system in October and comes as the park superintendent said he expects annual visits to increase this year to at or near regular levels after dropping by 22 percent during the pandemic in 2020.
At an online meeting of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission, Acadia officials aired the fee and also discussed plans for dramatic new expansions and improvements including the Acadia Gateway Center set to open in 2024, a new Hulls Cove Visitor Center, a reconstruction or renovation of the Jordan Pond House and 21 new buses for the Island Explorer shuttle over the next five years.
Update: Acadia National Park announced in early August that a pilot for the vehicle reservation system will be held from Oct. 1 to 18 of 2020. Reservations, costing $2 for each vehicle in addition to regular park pass, need to be made online at recreation.gov to enter Sand Beach Station from 7 am to 5 pm and Cadillac from 4:30 am to 6:30 pm from Oct. 1 to 18. A specific parking spot is not guaranteed but the plan is to guarantee a parking spot somewhere within the reserved area for each vehicle that makes a reservation.
The pandemic has delayed openings at Acadia National Park and indefinitely postponed operation of shuttle buses, but leaders are forging ahead with plans for a trial run this fall of a parking reservation system for Cadillac Mountain and Ocean Drive, with people allowed to make online reservations in August.
A parking reservation system to help ease congestion like this on Cadillac starts a trial run in the fall, with sign-ups beginning in August. (NPS photo)
The dry run for parking at a reserved site and driving at Cadillac and along Ocean Drive between the Sand Beach Entrance booths and Otter Cliff Road will be held in October. Reservations to access those areas can be made well ahead of the test run, probably as early as Aug. 1 over the same web-based system currently used for reservations at National Park Service campgrounds.
Acadia is also planning a reservation system to park at the north lot of Jordan Pond starting not before 2022, but that location will not be in the trial run, according to John T. Kelly, management assistant at Acadia National Park.
The parking reservation system is a key aspect of the 2019 transportation plan to manage Acadia traffic. (Image courtesy of NPS)
The vehicle reservation system, a key aspect of the park’s new transportation plan to reduce traffic congestion, is planned to operate for a full visitor season for the first time in 2021 between June 23 and the second Monday in October at Cadillac summit and the Ocean Drive Corridor, or past the entrance to Sand Beach. The test drive is aimed at providing important lessons for running the system in 2021.
Kelly acknowledged uncertainties, but he said the coronavirus pandemic so far is not altering plans for the dry run of the vehicle reservation system.
“There is so much unknown that I can’t say for certain anything really but we are on schedule and we have every intent on doing the trial run and keeping it going next year,” Kelly said in a phone interview.
“It is a great opportunity to get the bugs out of what we are preparing and end up going into the off season versus starting it next June and going into the busiest part of the season.” Continue reading →
Traffic congestion forced the closure of the summit road to Cadillac Mountain 58 times in 2019 and the road to Bass Harbor Head Light 32 times, spotlighting the need for a reservation system to park at certain popular attractions in Acadia National Park.
Cadillac Summit Road was closed 58 times in 2019 because of traffic, according to Acadia National Park. (NPS photo)
According to Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist at Acadia, 2019 was also the first year to see closures related to Acadia traffic at places such as the entrance to Sieur de Monts, the Route 233 entrance to Cadillac Mountain, Schooner Head Road and the entrance to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, which was closed five times.
Overall, traffic tie-ups prompted 105 closures in 2019 including three times apiece at Ocean Drive and Sieur de Monts and once each at Echo Lake Road and the Jordan Pond North Lot.
A view from Bubble Rock, a periodic collection of news briefs about Acadia National Park and related topics
This story was updated 7/2/2019 to reflect the opening of the Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop.
This story was updated on 6/24/19 with information from a press release issued by the park on the opening for the season of the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
A major asset is back in operation for the busy summer season for Acadia National Park visitors.
The Hulls Cove Visitor Center, the main visitor center for Acadia National Park, opened on Wednesday for the first time this year after $1.2 million in renovations, according to an email from Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist for the park. Hulls Cove is staffed with rangers and open this weekend.
“We are excited to open the doors to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center,” said Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “Visitors will experience new information desks, an expanded park store, and more restrooms.”
The contractor, King Construction Services of Jonesport, upgraded restrooms and created an improved arrangement for visitor services. The park is hoping that queuing of visitors in line will improve and visitors will move through the center more efficiently until overall issues can be addressed with a more comprehensive redesign proposed for the future.
The main visitor center usually opens April 15, but the opening was at first delayed until late May and then set for late June. Hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm daily until June 30, then 8 am to 6 pm daily July 1 to Sept. 2 before going back to 8:30 am to 4:30 pm daily from Sept. 3 to Oct. 31, according to the park’s web site.
The recent upgrade was funded through visitor entrance fees while interior displays and exhibits were supported through generous contributions from the park store, according to a press release. Other improvements include new carpet and a separate entrance to the park store from outside the building. Interior displays and exhibits convey real-time information on planning, several over-sized maps and a new display of pieces from the Acadia Artist-in Residence program.
Sound-dampening design and materials should help to reduce the volume of noise in the center.
Meanwhile, the Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop opened on June 23, about two months later than usual. The gift shop had been closed because of ice and snow damage and mildew issues and Dawnland LLC, the concessionaire for the Cadillac Mountain gift shop, had been trying to open the gift shop as soon as possible. The gift shop has been restocked to replace damaged goods. The shop is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week and sells 7-day passes to the park for $30 per vehicle.
Hulls Cove Visitor Center in Acadia National Park reopened Wednesday after a $1.2 million renovation took longer than expected, while the Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop remains closed from ice and snow damage over the winter and mildew issues.
Visitors to Acadia National Park are finding it can be hard to get there from here.
A big orange “Road closed ahead” sign, posted at the foot of the steps at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center at Acadia National Park, warns people that the center is inaccessible during renovations.
The Hulls Cove Visitor Center, the main venue for selling park passes, could be closed until the end of June while it undergoes $1.2 million in renovations including upgraded restrooms.
Just outside the 1960s-era center, a large electronic sign warns of the closure, possibly discouraging Acadia National Park visitors from turning into the parking lot, where they might see an exhibit that includes information about buying a pass at other locations, a map or park programs. And if visitors do enter the lot, they are greeted at the center steps with a big “Road closed ahead” sign.
On top of Cadillac Mountain, the first stop for many Acadia National Park visitors, the gift shop, which also sells passes, is closed because of ice and snow damage and mildew issues. A sign urges motorists to buy a pass at the gift shop for display in their vehicles, but people walking up to the shop to make the purchase on Monday were turned away by a sign on the door that says “Temporarily closed.”
And along the main state highway that leads to Acadia and Bar Harbor, road construction, detours and one-way traffic are sometimes causing long backups and confusion. The construction, scheduled to be complete by mid-June, prompted at least one recent visitor to get lost in the dark and call the hotel she was registered at for step-by-step directions via cell phone.
A visitor on Monday peers into the window of the closed Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop, which was damaged by snow and ice this winter and also has mildew problems.
Further adding to the potential frustration this spring and summer for Acadia National Park visitors who are unprepared or unaware, in trying to get there from here:
– New paid parking meter and kiosk system in Bar Harbor, approved by the municipality
– Culvert replacement and other work on the Park Loop Road and related bridges
– Intermittent closures on carriage roads for drainage work
– Maintenance and rehabilitation of Kurt Diederich’s Climb, Cadillac West Face Trail and Valley Cove Trail
– Random rock stacking or vandalized Bates-style cairn trail markers, which can mislead hikers
Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist for the park, wrote in an email that it has been “a challenging year” with the Route 3 detour and the closures of the Cadillac gift shop and the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. Continue reading →