Man on rope clings to vertical rock face
Man on rope clings to vertical rock face

NPS Photo by Kent Miller


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

Creating new routes by installing fixed protection (including bolts and pitons), and/or cleaning routes of vegetation and soils will be permitted only with the prior written approval of the superintendent and only at these climbing areas:

  • Precipice Wall
  • South Wall of Champlain Mountain
  • Jordan Cliffs
  • Beech Cliffs
  • Canada Cliffs
  • Great Head
  • Dorr Mountain (pinnacle)
  • Enoch Mountain (upper area)
  • Mansell Mountain.

Route development using fixed protection (including pitons) and route cleaning is prohibited at all other areas of the park. Route cleaning is defined as the systematic and comprehensive removal of soils and vegetation from climbing routes. For more information, visit our Climbing Route Development page.

Anyone offering instruction or guiding services in the park for a fee must obtain a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA). (36 CFR 5.3). To learn more, visit Do Business With Us, or contact the CUA Program Coordinator at (207) 288 8735 or

Climbing and bouldering are prohibited on all park bridges. (36 CFR 2.1 a 5)

Dogs are prohibited at climbing areas to the extent that they may not be tethered or allowed to run loose while their owner is climbing. (36 CFR 2.15 a)

The Precipice parking lot wall, Jordan Cliffs, and Beech Cliffs are usually closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons between early April and mid-August. Exact dates and locations may vary annually. (36 CFR 1.5)

Climbing Management Plan

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

Last updated: September 13, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609


207 288-3338

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