We took advantage of our National Parks Pass (a great deal from your Federal Government) to visit Acadia National Park while we visited the Bar Harbor, ME area. We enjoy partaking of Ranger-led programs and were able to do that numerous times during our stay.
Acadia has an interesting history – it was due to the vision and donations of private citizens such as George Dorr & Charles Elliott who saw that over-development would destroy the area. John D. Rockefeller played a major role, building the numerous carriage roads (designed for horse-drawn vehicles) and donating over 11,000 acres of land.
The carriage roads are an unusual addition to the park – a great hike or bike ride – over interesting works of engineering. All bridges on the carriage road are marked by a date stone, indicating when the work was completed.
Many have lovely arches spanning over creeks and streams. The Hemlock Bridge Arch is cantilevered to provide the hiker the best view of the arch.
The beautiful engineering work at the Hemlock Bridge
We participated in a Ranger Led bike tour that brought us over these beautiful stone works and explained many of the great features.
The Ranger led us through a Southeast portion of the park – our tour started at the Gate House – an original stone structure designed based on southern France architecture.
The carriage house, gate house and lodge are all connected and built to keep out the cars that Rockefeller hated and let the horse-drawn carriages in. The design might remind you of an old movie set – the interiors are rumored to be modest and spare. One would not be surprised to see the Hunchback of Notre Dame lurking inside!
Acadia was first established as Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson – the name was changed to Acadia National Park – Acadia is rumored to stem from Arcadia – Giovanni Verrazano (of the bridge fame…) was reminded of that part of Greece when he sailed the area in 1524.
In addition to the park located on Mount Desert Island, part of the park is located on a tract of land to the Northeast at Scoondic Peninsula – the site of an about-to-be-opened campground (1 Sep 2015), accommodating RVs (!) and tents and a third “Isle Au Hart” in the Southeast Maine coast – accessible only by boat.
Another – very popular – Ranger-led hike along Ocean Path leading to Otter Point, discussing the geologic features of the trail and the history of the area.
We took full advantage of our close proximity to Acadia National Park and our National Park pass. Acadia is a lovely – although not overly dramatic park like some out West. Lots of rolling hills (OK, they call them mountains, but I just can’t go there…..) scenic coastlines and clear blue water.
And plenty of history involving Big Money vs Local Town vs Mother Nature. All yours to explore!