The beauty of Maine’s Acadia National Park is a product of the ancient glaciers that carved out its landscape and the ocean waves and winds that batter its rocky coast along with a little help from human hands.
About Acadia National Park
Location : Maine, United States
Size: 35,332 acres.
Visitors: 2,669,034 in 2020.
History: Development and logging at the start of the 20th century prompted the wealthy summer visitors of Mount Desert Island to began acquiring land to protect it. President Woodrow Wilson declared the area Sieur de Monts National Monument in 1916. Three years later, with more acreage acquired, it became Lafayette National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi River. It became Acadia National Park in 1929. When visiting: Fall draws crowds of leaf peepers to Acadia as the trees burst with color. Peak season is typically in the middle of October.
Of note: The era of the wealthy rusticators who visited Mount Desert Island drew to a close with the Great Depression and World War II. A devastating fire destroyed many of their remaining estates in 1947.
Visitor info: nps.gov/acad.
In French, Acadia means “heaven on Earth,” and this ethereal stretch on Mount Desert Island was formed 12,000 years ago as retreating glaciers carved out a lake-studded land and formed its ragged granite cliffs. Financier John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought an estate here in 1910; determined to preserve the area, he not only donated 10,000 acres and bought up other properties but also began building carriage roads so others could visit. Today the park has 120 miles of sinuous roads and trails that offer sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as access to Somes Sound, with its steep bordering cliffs and fishing waters for mackerel, bluefish and striped bass.
And on Cadillac Mountain, a rise that boasts the highest peak along the Atlantic coast north of Brazil, visitors can catch one of America’s earliest views of the sunrise. With grounds dotted by patches of wild blueberries, woods inhabited by white-tailed deer, and pink-sanded shoreline offering access to waters populated by porpoises and whales, Acadia can feel like paradise.