Getting Around Acadia National Park
The best way to get around Acadia National Park is on foot. With 158 miles of historic trails made for hiking, Acadia is the perfect place to ditch the car and get outdoors. To reach the park, you can hop on the Island Explorer, a free summer shuttle service that transports passengers from Bar Harbor Village Green to a variety of park destinations. Should you prefer your own set of wheels, you can rent a car at one of the nearby airports, including Bangor International Airport (BGR), located just an hour's drive northwest of the park, and Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport (BHB), located about 10 miles north of Acadia. Guided tours and ranger-led programs are also available.
Walking along the park's 45-mile carriage road system is the best way to experience the park's awe-inspiring scenery. For a serene and easy hike, try the Wonderland Trail, which features a lush forest and a rocky ocean views. For a more challenging climb, check out Acadia's Beehive Trail, which boasts gorgeous vistas, but requires a strenuous hike up steep iron rungs on ledges of exposed cliffs. Novice hikers should only tackle these trails in the spring, summer and early fall when the weather permits a leisurely stroll. Winter hiking is only advised for experienced trekkers.
The Island Explorer, a fare-free summer bus service, offers 10 bus routes connecting Acadia's hotels, trails, campgrounds and village centers on Mount Desert Island. Featuring all-propane-powered vehicles, Island Explorer's environmentally friendly buses will not only drop you off at your desired stop upon request, but will also save you the hassle of trying to find a space in congested parking areas. Bus routes are currently in operation from June 23 through Columbus Day (early October), with a reduction in service in late August. You can find maps and timetables on the official Island Explorer website.
A car is resourceful if you're planning to visit a variety of attractions within the park. You can drive the nearly 30-mile Park Loop Road if you're hoping to find spectacular views of Acadia's ocean, mountains and forests. There are also many observation points where you can stop the car and admire the scenery. Another must-drive spot: Cadillac Mountain, a winding 3 1/2-mile road that features dazzling scenery of the park's tallest mountain. Keep in mind: Main roads close during the winter, so it's best to check ahead if you're planning to visit during this offseason. You can rent a car from any of the airports surrounding the park. Bargain-hunters beware: Bringing a vehicle will set you back $30 (as opposed to the $15 you would pay as a pedestrian, hiker or biker). For tips on navigating the park via car, visit the National Park Service website.
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