Bass Harbor Head Light Station

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Lighthouse by rocky coastline
Facing front: Iconic postcard view of Bass Harbor Head Light Station

NPS Photo by Kent Miller

Visiting Bass Harbor Head Light Station

The Bass Harbor Head Light Station is located in Tremont, Maine, marking the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay on the southwest corner of Mount Desert Island. Among about 80 lighthouses across Maine, it is one of three lights managed by Acadia National Park, including two others on Baker Island and Bear Island. It appeared on the America the Beautiful quarter in 2012, the NPS centennial postage stamp in 2016, and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

 
Photographers jockey for position along a rocky ocean coastline as sunset approaches.
Facing back: Photographers jockey for spots along a rocky ocean coastline as sunset approaches.

NPS Photo by Kent Miller

Expect Sunset Gridlock, Lack of Parking

With 180,000 annual visitors, the light station is the most visited place on the west side of Mount Desert Island and the fifth busiest destination in the entire park, behind only Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, Sand Beach, and Thunder Hole. Be forewarned —

  • Public parking is limited to a single, small lot. Open spaces may exist only during the day.
  • Roadside parking is prohibited along the entrance road and 102A.
  • The fare-free Island Explorer does not offer service to this part of the island in 2021.
  • Respect neighbors and private property owners.
 

Getting Around

Without encountering traffic and queuing for limited parking, the light station would be about 35 minutes from Hulls Cove Visitor Center and 10 minutes from Seawall Campground.

  • By car: Take Route 102A from Bass Harbor or Seawall. Turn onto Lighthouse Road for 0.5 miles to the parking lot. Buses, trailers, or RVs are not permitted due to the narrow road and small parking lot.
  • By bus: There is no public transportation to Bass Harbor Head Light Station.

Although there is no public access to the interior, visitors can view the exterior of the light station via paved walkway. The park maintains a parking lot, restrooms, and short boardwalk trail to a shoreline viewpoint.

 
Historic photograph of lighthouse on rugged coastline
Historic photograph of Bass Harbor Head Light Station

NPS

History

Bass Harbor Head Light Station was constructed in 1858 from funds appropriated by Congress. The site was considered significant from 1858 to 1948 for its mid-19th Century design and construction, and for its association with Maine’s critical reliance on maritime transportation and aids that made that transportation possible. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

The property was previously administered by U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), totaling 2.5 acres with five structures contributing to the historic landscape. This included:

  • Lighthouse (1858) with a tower that is 37-feet tall including the lightening rod. The lantern (1901) is a fourth-order Fresnel lens. The light is occulting red for four seconds and eclipsed for one second. The range is 13 miles.

  • Keeper’s dwelling (1858)

  • Bell House (1897)

  • Oil House (1902)

  • Barn (1905)

A 52 acre parcel was purchased by National Park Service in 1937 from the Worcester family. The purchase included the entrance road, parking lot, restroom, short hiking trail, and stairway to a shoreline viewpoint area. On July 8, 2020, the National Park Service formally accepted transfer of the Bass Harbor Head Light Station from the USCG. USCG will retain right-of-way to operate and maintain the automated aid to navigation.

Shortly after the formal transfer, the red acrylic "chimney" around the fourth-order Fresnel lens was removed. The USCG replaced the white lamp with a red LED, allowing for the removal of the chimney while maintaining the historic red light.

 
Lighthouse tower with red cone around light Lighthouse tower with LED light
The lantern with fourth-order Fresnel lens covered in red cone Photo courtesy Friends of Acadia
The lantern with fourth-order Fresnel lens with LED replacement Photo courtesy USCG



 
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    Last updated: April 13, 2021

    Contact the Park

    Mailing Address:

    PO Box 177
    Bar Harbor, ME 04609

    Phone:

    (207) 288-3338

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