A woman on a rope rappelling down ocean cliffs.
Climber being lowered down Otter Cliffs

NPS Photo by Christina Monk


Climbing Basics


Most cliffs are composed of solid coarse-grained pink granite. The longest routes are three pitches. Otter Cliff and Great Head provide a spectacular setting for sea cliff climbing not commonly available elsewhere.


Climbers assume responsibility for personal safety. On some routes local climbers maintain fixed protection or rappel stations. Evaluate them before using. At Otter Cliffs, the park maintains fixed anchors on top that must be used instead of trees to belay several climbs. Evaluate them before using also, and notify the park immediately of safety concerns. Climbers at Great Head and Otter Cliffs should know tides and weather forecasts; climbing at these areas is more difficult and dangerous at high tide or with high surf. Climb within your limits.


Climbing instruction and guiding is available locally from private companies in Bar Harbor.

Group Size Limit

Groups must be 12 people or fewer, including any guides and instructors. The group size limit applies to all climbing groups using any park climbing areas at any time of the year. The purpose of this size limit is to reduce the effects of large groups on park resources and the climbing experience.


Grant Simmons, 2015: Rock Climbs of Acadia

Commonly Used Climbing Areas

  • Otter Cliff: 60 foot (18 m) sea cliffs, crack and face climbing, rappel access, routes up to 5.12. Permits are required for organized groups of more than 5 people.

  • Precipice (Center, Left, Right, and Lower walls): 3 pitch routes to 5.12, good corners and thin cracks, some good beginner routes.

  • South Bubble: 1-3 pitch routes, some friction climbing, good beginner routes.

  • Great Head: high grade sea cliff climbing, rappel access, know tides and weather.

Many other small areas are used infrequently and good bouldering can be found along the ocean between Sand Beach and Otter Cliffs, and near Blackwoods Campground.

Climbing Permits

You must reserve a climbing permit at Otter Cliffs for organized groups of 6-12 people (including guides and instructors), from the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day.


Climbing Regulations


Climbing Management Plan

To learn more about how and why we manage climbing in the park, visit our Management Plans page.

Last updated: October 17, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609


207 288-3338

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