Tag Archives: island-explorer

Acadia National Park deluged with hiking accidents, traffic

Acadia National Park was overwhelmed with hiking accidents and traffic congestion during a record-setting day for visits on a sunny day during the July 4 weekend.

acadia rescue

View from the Maine Forest Service helicopter that rescued a 69-year-old woman who suffered heat stroke on Dorr on July 5, the busiest day ever in Acadia. It was the third rescue of the day, and when no park rangers were immediately available, Bar Harbor paramedics, Maine Forest Rangers, MDI Search and Rescue volunteers, and Friends of Acadia Summit Stewards all pitched in. (Photo courtesy of Maine Forest Service)

On July 5, the Maine national park had 35,000 visits, or 15 percent more than the prior record on July 3, 2017 and a 33 percent increase over the average busiest day for the last eight years, according to a park news release.

Park staff that day were pushed to the limit when they responded to four simultaneous rescue calls, including a helicopter rescue from 1,270-foot Dorr Mountain and another involving a fall off a cliff on the trail down the west face of Cadillac Mountain. Park dispatch that Friday was flooded with 755 radio calls and 20 emergency calls to 9-1-1.

Laura Cohen, acting chief of interpretation for the park, said the record visitation occurred because it was a Friday after the July 4 holiday and many people took the day off from work for a long weekend. “It was a very busy day,” she said, adding that the park was bracing for a busier day after AAA predicted that overall travel volume for the holiday was expected to rise 4.1 percent over 2018. Continue reading

New center, buses and map aid Acadia National Park visitors

ask acadia on my mind

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.

Acadia National Park visitor center

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.

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Car reservation system approved for Acadia traffic control

Acadia National Park is calling for some sweeping changes to relieve traffic congestion including approval of a timed reservation system at a fee of likely less than $10 for cars on Cadillac Mountain, the north lot of Jordan Pond and the Ocean Drive corridor.

acadia traffic

A timed reservation system for cars is the conclusion of the final transportation plan to manage Acadia traffic. (Image courtesy of NPS)

The plan also says that right lane parking on the Park Loop Road will be initially retained, but eventually eliminated as other options and parking become available for Acadia traffic. A park spokeswoman said earlier this year that the reservation system would start in 2020 at the earliest.

Reservations for Acadia traffic would be needed during  the peak season of the middle of June to the middle of October. The proposed fee for a reservation, which includes possible discounts for frequent visitors to the lots, would be in addition to the visitor pass.

The park says the timed reservation system and other changes would improve visitor experience and access and create longterm benefits for the local and regional tourism industry. The plan comes after park rangers closed the summit road to Cadillac Mountain 54 times last year and at least 49 times in 2017 because of traffic congestion and visits to Acadia jumped to more than 3.52 million last year, up about 60% from 2007.

The park today unveiled a 265-page final environmental impact statement on the plan, following a draft released last April.

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Acadia traffic, need for plan, surface at Jordan Pond

Acadia National Park is planning one more public engagement session on its draft plan to relieve traffic congestion in the park, following some tense Acadia traffic near Jordan Pond on Sunday.

acadia traffic problems

A pedestrian barely has room to get by the equestrian crossing sign on the right, as he heads toward Jordan Pond House Memorial Day weekend. The improperly parked cars, seen on the left, stretched along the Park Loop Road from Jordan Pond to as far as Bubble Pond.

The 215-page draft transportation plan, which was released on April 26, proposes to create seasonal vehicle reservation systems for an additional fee at Cadillac Summit Road, the Ocean Drive corridor and Jordan Pond area to better manage traffic.

After holding five information sessions in May, the National Park Service is offering a live webinar from 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13 on the draft transportation plan, which proposes the reservation system as its centerpiece.

Christie Denzel Anastasia, public affairs specialist for Acadia National Park, said it’s been great to receive input from people at the sessions that came after the release of the draft transportation plan. She said it has been a fantastic process.

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Acadia adds $284M to economic benefits of national parks

UPDATED 5/7/2018: Story adds a statement from Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider.

Acadia National Park last year pumped $284 million in jobs and business activities into the regional economy, according to an annual report on the economic benefits of national parks.

acadia visitor spending

In 2017, 3.5 million visitors spent an estimated $284.5 million in local communities, up 4% from the year before. (NPS image)

Acadia National Park supported 4,163 full and part-time jobs in 2017, down slightly from 4,195 jobs in 2016, as businesses last year struggled to find help amid a strong economy and tighter policies on hiring of foreign workers by the Trump administration.

“Acadia National Park’s extraordinary beauty and recreational opportunities attracted a record number of visitors in 2017 making it the seventh most-visited national park in the country,” said Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “We value our relationship with the neighboring communities and appreciate the services, experiences and amenities they provide to park visitors.”

The total economic output for Acadia in 2017 was $338.8 million, an increase from $333 million in 2016.

In 2017, the year after celebrating its  centennial, Acadia contributed $284.5 million in visitor spending, up 4 percent from 2016 and up 41 percent from $201 million in 2012, according to the report.

Unveiled by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the report comes as Acadia is proposing a vehicle reservation system for Cadillac Mountain summit, Ocean Drive and Jordan Pond that would relieve traffic congestion during peak season caused by a growing number of visitors and impose a small vehicle reservation fee partly to help raise money for increased service for the fare-free Island Explorer shuttle. The report on the economic effects of national parks also follows a decision by the National Park Service to impose modest entrance fee increases  starting June 1 at Acadia and 16 other of the most popular national parks, after an initial proposal to more than double fees caused an uproar.

acadia traffic

Accompanying the boost from Acadia visitors is the traffic, subject of a separate just-released transportation report, proposing a car reservation system. (NPS images)

 

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Physically disabled persons praise, question access to Acadia

During a recent visit to Acadia National Park, Shirley Beck, who has multiple sclerosis, said she was “very pleased” to find a paved path that allowed her to reach a viewing platform at the Cadillac Mountain summit with her light three-wheel electric scooter.

Shirley Beck, a pediatric physical therapist, on the Cadillac Mountain summit.

Shirley Beck, a pediatric physical therapist from Arlington, Va., who has multiple sclerosis, or MS, said she was very pleased to find a paved path that allowed her to reach a viewing platform at the Cadillac Mountain summit with her small electric scooter.

“It’s pretty good,” said Beck, a pediatric physical therapist from Arlington, Va., after taking in the sweeping vista of Frenchman Bay, islands and distant summits on the mainland. Disabled people are often reliant on help from the likes of disability services in Sydney, so it is always pleasing to see places accommodating them.

Beck said she is grateful to Acadia officials for making the peak of Cadillac accessible and praised them for building the pink-granite path for physically disabled persons. Before reaching the viewing platform, the path loops around steps and directly passes by a plaque of the first National Park Service director, Stephen Mather, who was periodically disabled by manic-depression, and was a contemporary of Acadia founder George B. Dorr, who became blind in his later years.

Beck, who visited Acadia while traveling with her husband, Roy, on a cruise ship, said she was not able to get quite as full of an experience at another key Acadia landmark, Thunder Hole. An accessible ramp leads to the upper viewing area of Thunder Hole for physically disabled persons, but not down to the lower area next to the sea cavern itself.

“The path was easy to use that got me part way down,” she wrote in a follow-up email. “I’m not sure how they could provide a way to get farther than that.”

While Beck only visited Acadia briefly, her experience was similar to that of some other physically disabled persons who travel to the Maine national park.

Acadia National Park has 45 miles of even-surface carriage roads, trails, sites and facilities that are available to wheelchair users but others that are not wheelchair-accessible such as Sand Beach, which is below a high bluff and does not have a ramp for physically disabled persons. Citing the terrain, the park service has determined that it is not feasible to build ramps down next to Thunder Hole itself or to Sand Beach.

Stairs to Sand Beach in Acadia National Park

These upgraded cement stairs provide the main access to Sand Beach, but are too difficult to navigate for many disabled people, such as Helen Franke of Wellington, Fla, who uses a cane and was stymied at the top.

But Helen Franke, a retired college administrator from Wellington, Fla., said she believed a gradual ramp at Sand Beach might be possible to accommodate physically disabled persons. “For something like this, I think they could,” she said, after stopping at the top of the stairs with a cane she needs to use.

Across the nation, access for people with disabilities is a key issue in outdoor recreation including the 59 national parks, which are required by the federal Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) to adopt accessibility standards for the design, construction, and alteration of facilities covered by the law. Small businesses and cafes that surround these national parks may also have to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act to make sure their business is accessible and get ada inspection services to double check that they are. Otherwise, they may be fined for not being compliant to the acts.

About a month after he was confirmed this year as U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke said in a release that “it’s time to start thinking about accessibility and infrastructure” and that “we will remain focused on increasing access” for physically disabled persons and other people with disabilities in national parks. Once this is in place, then who’s to say this won’t be the perfect little spot for a wonderful day out with someone you met on www.specialbridge.com or another site like it. Continue reading

7 ways for a stress-free visit to Acadia National Park

Last year, so many people visited Acadia National Park – more than 3 million – that the road to Cadillac Mountain had to be closed 12 times, and the Park Loop Road to Sand Beach, twice.

acadia traffic

Hopefully new parking attendants on top of Cadillac in 2017 will make for a stress-free visit to Acadia. (NPS photo)

Maybe the crowds were larger than usual in 2016 because of the Acadia Centennial, and maybe park plans to have parking attendants on top of Cadillac this year will help. With Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of the busy summer season, it’ll surely help to know these 7 ways for a stress-free visit to Acadia National Park.

1) Buy your Acadia National Park pass online, go early or late to the main Hulls Cove Visitor Center, or get the pass at one of the other local sites. New this peak season: Do not go to the park headquarters on ME 233 to buy your pass, since you’ll just be directed to the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. The surest way to start off a stress-free visit to Acadia: Don’t get in a long line to get a park pass. Online, you can buy the usual 7-day Acadia pass or even the annual park pass. If you’re age 62 or older, you can buy the lifetime Senior Pass for $10 in advance at a participating federal recreation site near home, or via mail, before the price is slated to go up to $80 on Oct. 1. Hulls Cove is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in May and June, and after Labor Day through October, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. July through Labor Day. And there are plenty of other local sites you can buy a pass at, as listed on the park’s Web site:

acadia

The online pass was developed by NIC Inc. and the National Park Service. Or you can buy a pass in the park or at area locations. (Image courtesy of NIC Inc.)

  • Bar Harbor Village Green Information Center – late May to Columbus Day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Thompson Island Information Center – early May to mid-October, hours vary
  • Sand Beach Entrance Station
  • Blackwoods Campground
  • Schoodic Woods Campground
  • Schoodic Institute, Rockefeller Hall
  • Seawall Campground
  • Cadillac Mountain Gift Shop
  • Jordan Pond Gift Shop
  • Mount Desert Town Office
  • Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce
  • Southwest Harbor / Tremont Chamber of Commerce
  • L. L. Bean in Freeport, ME

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Where’s bus to Jordan Pond House? Ask Acadia on My Mind!

Bubble Rock in Acadia National Park helped prove the Ice Age

Ask Acadia on My Mind!

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

Dear Nancy,

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.

Lifetime Senior Pass Acadia National Park

US citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over can get a lifetime Senior Pass for $10. (NPS photo)

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. Continue reading

To be footloose and fancy-free, car-free and carefree in Acadia

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.

cadillac mountain road

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.

Island Explorer bus in Acadia National Park

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

Acadia’s Island Explorer carries record 503,000 passengers

Acadia National Park and supporters appear to be succeeding in their campaign to persuade visitors to leave behind their cars when they enter the park.

Island Explorer bus in Acadia National Park

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)

According to new federal statistics, the Island Explorer, the park’s fare-free shuttle system, carried a record 503,224 passengers in 2014. It was the first time the system cracked 500,000 passengers for its estimated 3.5-month season of operation.

“The bus ridership was way up this year,” said Stuart West, chief ranger for Acadia National Park, in an e-mail. He referred questions about Island Explorer numbers to Paul Murphy, general manager for Downeast Transportation, Inc., which runs the Acadia bus shuttle.

The numbers for the bus system came as the Maine national park is on pace to attract about 2.7 million visitors this calendar year, the most in nearly 20 years, the federal statistics said.

The bus passenger statistics, made available on Tuesday on a National Park Service web site, show that passengers on the shuttle system increased by about 15 percent from 438,737 in 2012.

Island Explorer operates from late June through Columbus Day. The propane-powered buses have run since 1999, or 16 years, carrying 141,000 riders the first year. Continue reading