"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books."
― John Lubbock
Situated on the rough and rugged Maine coast, the Acadia National Park in Maine is a glorious haven for all those who want to experience nature at its best. The pristine beauty of the park, where the sea, mountains, woodlands, lakes, ponds, and wildlife all come together for a grand spectacle, attracts thousands of visitors every year. The sculpted granite hilltops, the beauty of the fall foliage, the breathtaking view of the rocky coast of Maine, and the miles of historic carriage trails are some of the best attractions of this park.
Apart from its scenic beauty, the Acadia National Park also boasts of a rich human history, thanks to native Americans, early European settlers, and artists. Attracted by the beauty of this place, many affluent people of the century have flocked to these islands in search of recreational and social activities. Till date, it continues to be one of the most visited national parks east of Mississippi. Here are some interesting facts about Acadia National Park.
History of the Acadia National Park
The first people to inhabit Mount Desert Island in the Acadia National Park were the Wabanaki.
A Frenchman, Samuel de Champlain, who led an expedition that landed on Mount Desert Island in 1604, named these islands as 'Isles des Monts Désert'.
Many of the socially prominent families, such as the Rockefellers, built lavish summer cottages in Acadia. It was due to their private donations of the land that the beauty of Mount Desert Island and the national park remains preserved till date.
In 1901, Charles W. Eliot, president of Harvard University, formed a public land trust to protect the island from uncontrolled development. Its creation was also strongly supported by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
On July 8, 1916, 6,000 acres of land was set aside by President Woodrow Wilson for the 'Sieur de Monts National Monument'.
In 1919, President Wilson signed an act establishing the Lafayette National Park, which was later renamed Acadia National Park in 1929.
It became the first national park east of the Mississippi.
The man credited with establishing and conserving this national park was George B. Dorr, the national park's first superintendent. An affluent person, who hailed from a highly regarded Boston family, George Dorr spent 43 years trying to protect and preserve Acadia for public use.
In 1947, a major fire broke out on Mount Desert Island, burning for 10 days and destroying more than 17,000 acres of land, which also included a number of upscale summer cottages.
Features and Highlights of the Acadia National Park
The Acadia National Park is spread over 47,453 acres of land. It consists of 30,300 acres on Mount Desert Island, 2,728 acres on Isle au Haut
, and 2,366 acres on the Schoodic Peninsula.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
One of the key highlights of the park are the 57 miles of carriage roads it offers. Built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. who wanted motor-free highways, these rustic carriage roads weave around the mountains and valleys of Acadia National Park. From large blocks of granite serving as guard rails, to the sixteen stone-faced bridges, these carriage roads remain popular with walkers, runners, bikers, and carriage-riders. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on these roads. Motorists can instead enjoy the striking views of the park's shoreline, forests, and mountain silhouettes along the 27-mile Park Loop Road system.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Located along the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island, the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse serves as the entrance to the Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay. Built in 1858, the lighthouse stands 56 feet above mean high water, and is one of the most photographed lighthouses on the Maine coast.
View from Cadillac Mountain
One of the highlights of Acadia National Park, Cadillac Mountain, at 1,528 feet, is the tallest mountain on Mount Desert Island. It is also the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. It is also the first place to view the sunrise in the United States from October 7 to March 6. Hiking or driving to the summit of Cadillac Mountain to catch the first rays of the sun is one of the most popular activities in Acadia National Park. The mountain is accessible via a winding, narrow, 3.5-mile road, and is usually closed in winter months from December through April.
Thunder Hole, one of the most popular sights, or rather sounds in Acadia, attracts visitors who want to hear the loud 'thunder' that emanates when the sea hits the rocky shores. The sound is caused when the waves roll into a small inlet in the rocks. Deep in the inlet is a low cavern. When the rush of the wave arrives inside the inlet, air and water are forced out with a huge thunderous sound. The water often spouts up as high as 40 feet.
The largest freshwater lake in Acadia, the Eagle Lake, is spread over 436 acres, and has a depth of fifty feet. Fishing is allowed in the lake if a person has a fishing license. The lake also provides kayaking and canoeing opportunities.
Jordan Pond, along with its famous Pond House Restaurant, is one of the extremely popular highlights in Acadia National Park. The Pond itself is spread over 187 acres and has a depth of 150 feet. Swimming, windsurfing, scuba, or boating are not allowed on the Jordan Pond.
On the east side of Mount Desert Island is a beautiful little beach, known as the Sand Beach. Nestled between rocky cliffs and granite mountains, this 290-yard long beach is made of shell fragments created by the pounding waves.
Activities to Enjoy at Acadia National Park
Love the view of the pounding surf on the rocks? Watch it at the Schoodic Point. Located at the southern tip of Schoodic Peninsula, this is also one of the best places to view the diabase dikes, which are actually dark basalt rocks that have forced their way through the older granite.
One of the best sights of the Acadia National Park is the spectacular fall foliage, that attracts thousands of visitors. It is also home to a number of wildlife species, including moose, beaver, white-tailed deer, and black bears. The main visitor center is open from mid-April through October. There are many park tours and trails that allow you to enjoy the beauty of this unspoiled paradise on Earth.