A few months ago I took a trip to Acadia National Park with my friend Naomi, and damn it was cool. Acadia is definitely unique, there’s not really any other National Parks to compare it to. Acadia is also one of the smallest national parks in the United States. However, don’t let Acadia’s 46,000 acres fool you, there’s a lot to do!

Camping at Seawall Campground

We went to Acadia for Memorial Day Weekend. Well, part of it. We camped at the Seawall campground on Thursday and Friday night. Thursday night, there were only three other campers with us on the B loop. The next day, when Memorial Day Weekend officially began, almost every site was full. People wake up early in Acadia, so we recieved an early wake up call. There were several other campgrounds we had higher on our list, but there were slim pickings with only two day’s notice. We’re lucky we could even reserve any campsites for more than one night. Blackwoods Campground and the Duck Harbor Campground at Isle au Haute were at top of our list but we didn’t plan it right to make these locations happen. Blackwoods is on the west side of Mount Desert Island and the closest campsite to a lot of Acadia’s most popular hikes, making it a very convenient place to set up base camp. We technically could have camped at Blackwoods, but we would have had to move campsites each night and we didn’t want to deal with that hassle which is why we chose Seawall. Duck Harbor definitely looks like the coolest spot to camp in Acadia but requires some serious advanced planning. There are 5 primitive lean-to’s with a six person capacity on the island, and people can start mailing in permit requests in April. Keep in mind, they were already reserved through August when we were looking in the middle of May. You have to take a boat to get there and from what I can tell it looks like the most primitive and closest to backcountry camping out of all the sites. There is no true backcountry camping in Acadia National Park.

Rainy Days

There was rain in the forecast for several days so we got to work setting up camp before it arrived.  We took about 20 mins climbing on tables to hang a massive tarp I found in my shed back home in the trees. It’s the only tarp I could find, and I don’t usually car camp, so I’ve now invested in the Kelty Noah Tarp for next time, and I’m curious to see how it holds up.  No matter what, definitely bring some type of tarp with you when you car camp!  They help to protect firewood, keep the sitting area dry, and add extra water protection for the tent set up. Weather can be unpredictable in the mountains, as well as by the sea!

Funny story about our little campsite here.  Not for me, but may before you.  The shelter was doing great and keeping us dry, but it was hard to sleep on the first night because the rain splashing on the tarp and the wind were loud.  At one point I had to exit the tent to go to relieve myself, and noticed one of the ropes had fallen. The rain soaked the firewood, both of our rain jackets, and the camping chairs… NOOOOO!  I decided to deal with it all in the morning because I didn’t feel like getting wet in the middle of the night. Big mistake.

When I woke up in the morning the roof of the tent looked blue.  The tarp fell even more and was hugging the roof and walls of our tent. I was ready to go outside and check the situation.  When I opened my door and went to grab my shoes, I found them filled with water. NOOOOO!  The tarp had formed a nice little chute for all the rain water to fall right into my hiking boots.  If I had moved them 2 inches closer to the tent, they would have been fine.  So, I didn’t use my hiking boots for the next 2 days,  I hiked in Sperry’s instead. Kinda slippery haha

Exploring Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor is a quaint little town definitely worth exploring.  The town is about a 40 minute drive from Seawall campground but is much closer to campsites on the west side. Bar Harbor has plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants to choose from.

While in Acadia we ate at Sidestreet Cafe one night and also got a few beers at the Dog and Pony Tavern on night two. Dog and Pony had a great atmosphere with an equally great selection of beers.  I love bars with games and activities and Dog and Pony has the most games I’ve ever seen in a bar.  We played connect four, Wii Sports, and Mario Kart!

We went to Sidestreet Cafe for dinner the first night. The cafe was tasty but very expensive.  I had an $18 chicken sandwich… Naomi and I were joking because the sandwich was originally $13 and then our waitress asked if I wanted to add chicken for $5.  I didn’t want to spend $5 more dollars to add chicken. What kind of sandwich only has avocado, lettuce, and tomato without any meat?? That’s a salad on some bread! Even though Sidestreet was pricey, all restaurants are expensive in Bar Harbor. Be prepared to spend money if you want to eat in town.

Everyone claims to have the best lobster, or give you the most for the price. However, they’re all about the same amount and price so don’t debate too hard!

We actually didn’t get our lobster in Bar Harbor, we went to a place called Thurston’s near our campsite. This was a good move!  The restaurant is super cool with a nice atmosphere and sits right on the harbor. We had a great view of all the docked boats, and were literally sitting above the water. I could see waves under us through slits in the wood flooring. Naomi got a full Lobster for $23 and I got a small lobster roll for $18.  This was my first time ever having lobster so I got the cheapest item available. My thought on lobster?  It was pretty good and I might eat it again.  However, there are plenty of other food items I’d pick over lobster in a heartbeat.

Exploring Acadia

Day 1:

We only had 2 days which we packed with exploring nature, but there’s so much we missed, and I have a list of things I want to do when I come back.

My favorite hike we did was the Beehive Trail.  I wrote all about it in a separate blog post. Only two Iron Rung trails were open while we were there due to Peregrine Falcon nesting.  We practically hiked vertically the whole trail climbing up stairs and ladders bolted into the cliffs. I also really wanted to do the Precipice trail, but I’ll have to save that for next time.

After we finished the Beehive hike we decided to stop and see some more sites along the scenic Acadia Highway, which is a one way drive. We first stopped at Sand Beach by the parking area for the Beehive trail.  The beach is decently sized and sits in the NewPort Cove with towering cliffs rising up on the sides. It looks like a great spot to have picnics and swim, but it was still in the 50’s for Memorial Day weekend.
A few more miles down the road we found Thunder Hole.  Thunder hole is an inlet between some cliffs where the Atlantic Ocean meets Maine.  When a wave hits the inlet just right, the water blasts off the rocks making a sound just like thunder.  We saw water make splashes about 15 feet high, but people claimed they’ve seen the water crash over 40 feet.  You’ll just have to check it out!  And it really does sound like thunder.

After dinner we checked out the lighthouse at Bar Harbor.  I’m not sure if we were supposed to be there or not. The parking lot was technically closed, but the gate to the lighthouse was open, so we explored. The light house had a red light instead of white which I thought was interesting. We couldn’t see much so we decided to come back in the morning.

This night we were able to make a roaring fire and make s’mores.  Seawall Campground provides each campsite with their own stash of firewood, which was convenient and highly appreciated! Sadly, we only got to enjoy a fire the first night because of the rain.

Day 2:

After the morning debacle of finding a bunch of our gear soaked, we made some peanut butter sandwiches and headed back to the lighthouse.  (PB&J’s were our go-to meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on our 5 day road trip!)

The USCG posted informative signs about the purpose and history of the Bass Harbor Headlight.  In the back of the parking lot, there’s also a short trail to view the lighthouse down from the pink granite.  I loved this view and I captured one of my favorite photos from the trip here!

Since we only had two days on the Island and did the Beehive Hike on Day 1, we wanted to do a hike on the east side of the island for day 2.  The map we received when we arrived had a fire tower marked on Beech Mountain and we wanted to check it out.  Beech Mountain also has some spectacular cliffs nearby overlooking Echo Lake.  You can read about our experience of this hike in another blog post!

After hiking it started to rain quite a bit, so we headed back to Bar Harbor to find some wifi and figure out where we were going to stay on our third night in New England. We went to sleep early after a tiring day at Beech Mountain and little sleep from the first night.  No rain on night two!

My Acadia To-Do List:

We didn’t have much time to explore the park with only 2 half days and one full day of time.  There were penty of activities we didn’t get tos here’s my bucket list for when I return: (Hopefully very soon!)

  1. Sunrise hike on Cadillac Mountain
  2. Stargaze at the summit of one of the mountains
  3. Hike The Precipice Trail
  4. Sea kayaking
  5. Rock climb some coastal coasts
  6. Ride the ferry to one of the islands
  7. Bike ride on Carriage Roads
  8. Find and explore one of the sea caves (No longer on the maps)
  9. Lobster boat tour
  10. Go swimming in the Atlantic!

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