Acadia National Park might be called the park that doesn’t know its name. It was originally designated as Sieur de Monts National Monument on July 8, 1916, then became Lafayette National Park on February 26, 1919 during President Woodrow Wilson’s term of office, and finally became Acadia National Park with a formal name change on January 19, 1929. In 2019, Acadia had 3,437,286 visitors in its 49,075 acres.
This stunning park takes up about half of Mount Desert Island on the mid-Maine coast, south of the town of Bar Harbor Maine, as well as part of the peninsula and portions of several outlying islands. Native Americans have lived in the area for at least 12,000 years, including tribes making up the Wabanaki Confederacy, also known as the “People of the Dawnland”; the Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki and Penobscot. The tribes continue to play a significant role in the stewardship of the area today.
In 1613, French missionaries set up the first white colony on Mount Desert Island, but it was destroyed by an armed vessel from the Virginia Colony in what was probably the first act of aggression leading up to the French and Indian wars. In the 1600s, a fur trading post was also set up, and French, English and Dutch traders all fought for control. The French ultimately ceded Mount Desert Island to the English in 1713.
The result is a park with a diverse habitat including coastal regions as well as the tallest mountains on the Atlantic Coast (Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak there). The diversity that exists there means that there is a wide variety of activities to do, including auto-touring, hiking, poking around in the tidepools, bicycling, and in the winter, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
Cadillac Mountain rises 1,530 feet, and is considered the first place that the sunrise hits on the east coast of the United States. There are a variety of animals that reside within the park, including black bear, moose, deer, porcupine, beaver, fishers, mink, turtles, otters, bats and many species of birds.
I had the opportunity to visit Acadia for two amazing days in September 2018, including my birthday. I’ll tell you about my visit next!