Traffic & Congestion

Aerial view of congested parking lot on Cadillac Summit
Helicopter view of congested parking lot on Cadillac Summit

NPS Photo by Fred Mason

Low-Impact Transportation Options

Doing It Without A Car

Make the Most of (Free) Island Explorer Routes

 
Crowds of visitors trek to Bar Island
Crowds of visitors trek to Bar Island at low tide

Photo by Rhonda Wasner

Don't Let Gridlock Spoil Your Acadia Experience


Acadia National Park is among the top ten most popular national parks in the United States, welcoming more than 3.5 million people a year. Visitation has surged almost 60 percent in a decade, leading to severe crowding at most park attractions. Between June 28 and Sept 4, 2017, the road to the Cadillac Mountain summit closed 49 times – for as little as 13 minutes, or as long as 90 minutes – due to gridlock congestion and public safety concerns.

During peak visitation, typically from June into September each summer, parking is limited and tends to fill early each day. Visitors are encouraged to plan carefully and use the fare free Island Explorer shuttle service to access the Park Loop Road, carriage roads, and hiking trails.

• Always visit Acadia with a back-up plan

• Don't expect to find a parking space at popular sites

• Park legally and responsibly

• If a parking lot is full when you arrive, choose a new destination, try again at another time of day, or use a different form of transportation


The most congested areas that routinely fill to capacity are –

  • Cadillac Summit Road, especially sunrise and sunset
  • Jordan Pond and vicinity
  • Park Loop Road, especially between Sand Beach and Fabbri picnic area
  • Sand Beach parking lot, which is routinely full by 9 am
  • Eagle Lake Carriage Road Access, from Route 233
  • Acadia Mountain parking on Route 102
  • Echo Lake parking area

All of these areas, except Cadillac Summit, can be reached by using the Island Explorer shuttle bus system.

 
Visitor vehicles defy a no parking sign on a narrow road
Visitor vehicles defy a no parking sign on a narrow road

Photo by Rhonda Wasner

Park Legally and Responsibly

If you explore with a personal vehicle, please park legally and responsibly. Certain areas along the one-way section of the Park Loop Road allow right-hand lane parking. When parking in designated areas, make certain that all wheels remain on the pavement. Roadside parking outside of designated areas is prohibited. Oversized vehicles, such as recreational vehicles (or vehicles pulling trailers) cannot be accommodated in certain areas.

 

Low-Impact Transportation Options

  • Arrive before 8 am or after 5 pm. Most vehicle congestion occurs midday..
  • Avoid long lines by buying your Entrance Pass online, and printing a copy prior to your arrival.
  • Leave your car where you are staying, then walk on a village connector trail, ride your bike, or take the fare-free Island Explorer bus into Acadia.
  • Enjoy a car-free biking experience by using Acadia’s carriage roads. Wear a helmet and watch your speed for a safer ride.
  • Enjoy a summit view by exploring one of Acadia’s historic Hiking Trails. Stay on established trails and wear sturdy, enclosed hiking shoes for a safer hike.
  • Most ranger programs are now scheduled early or late in the day to avoid mid-day congestion, and to maximize parking availability. Some programs allow you to "drop-in" for short interactions with a ranger as you travel through the busiest areas of the park. Explore Ranger Program Descriptions and find dates and times with an online Calendar.
 
Traffic jam before sunrise on Cadillac Summit
Avoid crowds at sunrise and sunset on Cadillac Mountain

Photo by Rhonda Wasner

Experience Special Places in New Ways

  • Don’t miss Acadia at night. Seek out a moonrise over a beach, shooting stars over a mountain, or owl calls echoing into the stillness of a forest trail.
  • Avoid Cadillac Mountain crowds at sunrise and sunset by picking a new place or new way to experience these magical moments. Watch sunrise along Ocean Drive or take a sunset boat ride.
  • Do your favorite things at new times of the day. Visit Acadia early morning or late afternoon to find less-crowded experiences.
  • Visit in winter, spring, or late fall, to experience Acadia at its most peaceful.
  • See Acadia in new ways, from a boat, an outer island, or another place new to you.

Make It a Maine Experience

  • Make Maine your destination, not only Acadia. Find the experiences and meet the people that make this place uniquely Maine.
  • Spend the middle of the day, the park’s busiest time, exploring activities around Acadia in museums, libraries, historical societies, gardens, galleries, gift shops, and other local venues.
  • Extend your Maine adventure by bringing your passport to explore national parks in Canada – Make it a Two Nation Vacation
 
Two-lane road is choked with cars
Explore other ways to experience Acadia besides a personal vehicle.

NPS Photo by Stuart West

Doing It Without A Car

Take an Authorized Bus Tour

  • National Park Tours
  • Oli's Trolley

Take a Ranger-Guided Bicycle Tour or Boat Cruise

  • Baker Island Cruise
  • Carriage Road Bike Tour
  • Frenchman Bay Cruise
  • Islesford Historic and Scenic Cruise

Hire a Local Taxi, Uber, or Lyft


From Bar Harbor

  • Walk to Compass Harbor
  • Walk to Bar Island, at low tide only
  • Walk to Great Meadow
  • Walk to the Nature Center, Wild Gardens, Abbe Museum at Sieur de Mont Springs
  • Explore nearby Hiking Trails
    • Beachcroft and Champlain South Ridge
    • Dorr Mountain South Ridge Loop
    • Jesup Path and Hemlock Road Loop
    • Gorge and A Murray Young Path Route
  • Ride a ferry to the Schoodic Peninsula with your bicycle, or ride the Island Explorer Bus #8
  • Ride the Island Explorer Eagle Lake Bicycle Express from Village Green (June 24-Sept 30). No eBikes or motorized vehicles are allowed on the carriage roads or Island Explorer buses
    • Bike Eagle Lake Loop
    • Bike Witch Hole Loop
    • Bike to Jordan Pond

From Blackwoods Campground:

  • Walk to Otter Cove
  • Explore nearby Hiking Trails
    • Ocean Path
    • Cadillac Mountain South Ridge, to bus stop at Sieur de Mont Springs
    • Pemetic Mountain Loop
  • Take the Island Explorer Bus #3 to Village Green, Sand Beach, or Sieur de Mont Springs


 
Passenger disembarks from riding the Island Explorer
Passenger disembarks from riding the Island Explorer

Photo by Will Newton/Friends of Acadia/NPS

Make the Most of (Free) Island Explorer Routes

Leave your car where you are staying or park and ride from the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. Learn more about Island Explorer Maps and Timetables.
No eBikes or motorized vehicles are allowed on carriage roads or Island Explorer buses

Park Loop Road

Bus #4

  • Sand Beach
  • Thunder Hole
  • Otter Cliffs
  • Carriage rides from Wildwood Stables
  • Biking, walking, hiking from Jordan Pond
  • Hiking Trails:
    • Beehive Loop
    • Ocean Path
    • Gorham Mountain Loop
    • Great Head Trail
    • Precipice Loop

Sieur de Monts Springs

Bus #3 from Village Green, or Blackwoods Campground
Bus #4 from Hulls Cove Visitor Center

  • Visit Nature Center, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Abbe Museum
  • Explore nearby Hiking Trails
    • Beachcroft and Champlain South Ridge
    • Dorr Mountain South Ridge Loop
    • Jesup Path and Hemlock Road Loop
    • Gorge and A Murray Young Path Route

Jordan Pond

Bus #5 from Village Green and Northeast Harbor
Bus #4 Park Loop Road from Hulls Cove Visitor Center

  • Make advance reservations for dining at Jordan Pond House
  • Bike on nearby carriage roads
  • Explore nearby Hiking Trails

  • Jordan Cliffs Loop
  • Jordan Pond Path
  • North Bubble Loop
  • Penobscot and Sargent Mountain Loop
  • Pemetic Mountain Loop

West Side, Southwest Harbor

Bus #7 from Village Green

  • Echo Lake Swim Beach
  • Explore nearby Hiking Trails
    • Canada Cliffs Loop
    • Saint Sauveur and Acadia Mountain

Brown Mountain, Northeast Harbor

Bus #6 from Village Green, Northeast Harbor Pier

  • Bike on carriage roads from Parkman or Brown Mountain

Eagle Lake Bicycle Express

from Village Green June 24-Sept 30
No eBikes or motorized vehicles are allowed on carriage roads or Island Explorer buses

  • Bike Eagle Lake Loop
  • Bike Witch Hole Loop
  • Bike to Jordan Pond

Last updated: June 21, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Phone:

(207) 288-3338

Contact Us