Our tips for visiting Acadia, New England's sole national park

Early-rising visitors to Acadia National Park await the sunrise on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)
Early-rising visitors to Acadia National Park await the sunrise on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's Saturday morning newsletter, The Weekender. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

Summer is the season of adventure. And in the spirit of exploration, even our very-online hosts of the Endless Thread podcast have immersed themselves in the wild of our great national parks.

This month, Endless Thread hosts Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson are sharing the funny, weird and interesting bits that make America’s national parks worth checking out in their “PARKS!” mini-series. They’ve dug into who’s really behind the National Park Service’s hilarious social media accounts, explored slime mold (it’s aliiiiive) and uncovered the sacred history (and internet lore) behind Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower, also known as Mato Tipila.

When they’re not behind the mic, you can find Ben and Amory out getting some firsthand national parks experience. And you don’t have to go all the way to Wyoming to find one.

While most of the country’s more well-known parks are concentrated out west, Maine’s own Acadia National Park is a (relatively) short five-hour drive up the coast.

If you’re trying to sneak in one last trip before the season ends (or are already planning for next year), Ben and Amory have some insider tips for you on how to maximize your next Acadia visit. Read on:

Where to stay

Ben recommends the Blackwoods Campground, about five miles south of Bar Harbor on the east side of Mount Desert Island. The wooded campground, located nearby the ocean, has room for both tents and RVs, and it features flush toilets and running water.

Campsite reservations open up two months in advance, so Ben suggests making a calendar reminder well ahead of your trip so you can snag a spot.

For those looking for less rugged (if more expensive) stay, there are also over a dozen hotels and inns in charming Bar Harbor.

When to go

Though this year’s rainy summer might contribute to a change in leaf colors, New England is privileged to have beautiful fall foliage even in the off years. If you’re a leaf-peeper, Amory says to make the drive up to Acadia in the second week of October for “peak fall foliage.” (Psst: There’s still some open October dates available at the Blackwoods Campground.)

What to do

If you’re looking to climb Acadia’s famous Beehive Loop, Ben says go for it! The rocky, 450-foot cliff hike offers spectacular views. But be warned: The National Parks Service says hikers should expect steep drop offs, iron rungs, and exposed cliff faces if they’re going to take on The Beehive. Amory says it’s not for the faint of heart.

“If you think, ‘Eh, I’ll try climbing The Beehive, even though I’m afraid of heights, and the idea of holding onto iron rungs on the cliffside of a mountain makes me kinda queasy…’ just know that once you start the hike, there is no turning around,” Amory said. “You’re in for a penny, in for a pound. I may or may not have cried a little bit and told my sister to tell our parents I love them, fully expecting to fall to my death. OK, have fun!”

Are you sold? Already in the car to Acadia? You can listen to all three episodes of Endless Thread’s “PARKS!” series here — or wherever you get your podcasts.

P.S. — Prefer a hike closer to home (and a little less life-imperiling)? Explore the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s list of accessible hiking trails and paths closer to Boston here.

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Hanna Ali Associate Producer
Hanna Ali is an associate producer for newsletters at WBUR.



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