Did you know that Acadia National Park ranks as one of the most popular and heavily visited national parks in the U.S.? We didn’t either until we drove the 20-mile Park Loop Road. This circuit hits many of the park’s natural attractions, including Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Jordan Pond. I can’t tell you how any of those sites were for birding or any other activities, because we couldn’t find parking to visit them! Park Loop Road was an agonizing exercise in frustration, a presentation of enticing areas out of reach for lack of space. Our pain was heightened by Mason and Ivy’s displeasure at being cooped up in a car when we were all supposed to be hiking new trails. What we did see, particularly the view from atop Cadillac Mountain, was nice enough, but I wouldn’t step foot into this part of the park again during high tourist season.
As you might imagine from that brief synopsis, the birding was pretty bad for us at Acadia. Of the 21 breeding warbler species, we saw not a one. Nor could we locate Gray Jays or Boreal Chickadees, since we were hard pressed to see anything over the heads of the thousands of other visitors clogging up the works. At Otter Cliffs, we spied Bank Swallows, gulls, cormorants, and guillemots. Cadillac Mountain’s summit brought us more gulls along with an Eastern Towhee and the biggest honking dragonfly I’ve ever seen in my life. Unfortunately, that’s about the size of it.
To add insult to injury, we didn’t see Moose here or at any time during our week in Maine, a fact I regret immensely, though we did enjoy ample views of White-tailed Deer, Porcupine, and the extremely noisy but nonetheless adorable Red Squirrel.
Chalk this one up to experience. Acadia National Park may have a lot to offer the visiting nature lover, but its bounty is wasted if there’s no place to park!
When I lived in New York and Massachusetts, I went to Acadia many times. In the “old days,” traveling there with my family, we went any time of the Spring, Summer or Fall, just careful to avoid the black fly season, with no problem. As time went by, it became necessary to go in Spring or Fall. Spring is very stormy, which is not what you want if you are going their once in a lifetime, but after being there 20 times it is very exciting to ride out the spring storms. Actually, Fall can be stormy if you get an ExtraTropical or a Noreaster.
In any event, after labor day is the key.
I know of at least one really amazing place to visit that has been closed down because of the tourists (but you can still go there if you know the way … if you are still in the vicinity, email me and I’ll give you directions!)