Park Loop Road#2 in Best Things To Do in Acadia National Park
Park visitors agree: riding along the 27-mile Park Loop Road is the best way to do a quick tour of Acadia (and makes a strong case for renting a car). Popular sites and trails like Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff can all be reached from here. Just start your trek at the Hulls Cove Visitors Center, then snake your way around the east side of Mount Desert Island.
Public restrooms are also scattered along the loop, but with the lack of concession stands and eateries, it's probably wise to pack your own lunch. Also keep in mind that for a majority of the 20 miles, the Loop's traffic goes one way, with a second lane provided for visitors to park and take in the view near Wildwood Stables. Recent travelers also recommended starting your drive early in the morning, as the road tends to get congested with tourists as the day goes on, especially in the busy summer months. Some reviewers also said that cell service was spotty, so make sure you pick up a map at the visitors center before you start your drive in case your GPS cuts out along the way.
Although the Loop stays open year-round, large stretches do close for the winter season from December to mid-April. Check the National Park Service's website for more details on road closures.
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#1 Cadillac Mountain
Standing about 1,530 feet in height, Cadillac Mountain wins a lot of superlatives. Not only is it the tallest mountain in the park, but it's the tallest mountain on the North Atlantic seaboard and the first point of the United States to greet the rising sun's rays from Oct. 6 to March 7. Whether you hike up the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail or drive up the 3.5-mile narrow access road, go early. As the only attraction in the park that can be reached by car, Cadillac tends to draw crowds. If you do arrive by car, you should drive slowly, especially as the roadside cliffs get steep. Along the road, you'll find several small observation areas: take advantage of those before you reach the top, where the crowds and tour buses congregate.
Recent travelers said a trip to Acadia isn't complete without a stop at Cadillac Mountain, but caution the area gets crowded, especially on the weekends. For the ultimate vistas, set your alarm clock and try to catch a sunrise here; visitors assure it is a spectacular sight to see. If you're visiting during the winter months, you'll have to take the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail; the park closes down the access road for the winter season. Pack blankets and hold on to your hats, too, as it gets chillier as you ascend.
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