Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Recommendations for Acadia National Park

Hey guys!

I was wondering if anyone has visited Acadia National Park and have any recommendations. I'm heading there this summer with my 10 year old son. We will be there for 3 days before heading somewhere else. Any advice would be much appreciated!

8 Replies

I recommend visiting the NPS web site for Acadia -

This will give you good advice for planning your trip and give you up to date info on current conditions.  Remember covid could still be a factor.

There is plenty of hiking at Acadia, but the park is very popular and summer is the peak season.  I would imagine at least some hiking trails will be relatively uncrowded.  Check with a friendly, smiling ranger (is there any other kind?) for the latest info.

I visited Acadia once- my sister once had a summer home across the bay from Acadia and I was highly impressed - it is a really exceptional destination.  Projections are for highly crowded parks this summer, so Acadia, one of the ten most visited parks, may be jam packed.

Full disclosure - I am  retired NPS and a rabid fan of almost anything connected with the NPS.


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Thank you for your informative response!

I have heard that it will be very crowded, but it's on our list of parks to visit. I'm hoping for the best.

I was looking at the NPS website you attached. Would you recommend paying for the Cadillac Summit Road sunrise? I was reading into it and someone said that you do not need to actually buy a ticket for that and can just drive your car there early in the morning, do you know if that is true? I would love to see the sunrise at the summit while we are there.


Presumably the first sunlight to dawn on USA soil is the summit of Cadillac Mountain, although I believe there is a part of the country just a little bit north that is also in contention.  It may have to do with the time of year.

Sunrises are beautiful, no matter where you stand.  I am not sure, but I'll bet the idea of the ticket is to hold down crowds and avoid overloading the available space.  There are always workarounds for almost any fee situation, but not all of them are good ideas.  Frankly, I would avoid the Sunrise Stampede.  That might be a good time to hike an otherwise crowded trail.

If you get into a private, one one one discussion with park staff, you can get a much better idea of the situation.  When one is "on duty', sitting behind the information desk, you stick pretty much to the official line.  Sometimes, advice offered unofficially might be a little different (the key word is "sometimes").

I am not familiar with the trail system, but you might search for a place to park short of the summit and hike to the top in the predawn (You can tell I am a morning person!)

Again, this is a very popular park, you are visiting during the peak season, and the forecast is that parks will be heavily patronized.  Crowds = complications.

Tastes vary, and some crowding is fine.  If attractions are popular, there is usually a good reason. But many have found great experiences in parks, getting away from the herd, enjoying peace, quiet, and natural beauty.  This can be surprisingly easy to accomplish, even in crowded parks.



Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

It has been just over two decades since my last visit, but I always enjoyed the rocky beaches throwing stones as a kid, your 10 year old may still enjoy it.  Easy to spot some wildlife along the shore including bald eagles, crabs, and seagulls that actually get food from the sea (not trash cans per the usual in the Midwest and lower South). There is an island you can hike to at low tide.  Cadillac Mt is nearby for some excellent views!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Thank you for your recommendations! 

I've heard Swim Sand Beach is great, but always very crowded. My son would definitely love to throw stones (what kid doesn't?!).

Most of the shore is rocky and, yes, the swimming areas are usually crowded in the summer.  Early summer the water would be quite a bit colder than late August, so that may keep some away.  We didn't pay anything to drive up Cadillac, but that could have changed.  There was a parking lot near the summit and a short walk to the views after that.  I think there are some trails that will take you up from the base as well.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Acadia is a beautiful Park - one of my favorites.  I would echo @hikermor and say that sunrises are great no matter where you are.  I wouldn’t want to fight for elbow room just to say I saw the first sunrise.  I’d hike to the top of Beech Mountain or go to one of the east facing beaches.

Sunset from Hadley Point is beautiful, too.

Do not, unless vegan or allergic, miss lobster rolls!

If you’re adventurous and experienced hikers, the North Ridge Trail is a great way to get to the top of Cadillac Mountain.  You can even go down the South Ridge and catch the bus back to your car.  My favorite trail is Precipice, though it is not for those fearful of heights.  You would have to know your son and his skills.  There are iron rungs and chains attached to the rock face in the steepest sections.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Acadia is beautiful. If you have not already done so, check out friends of Acadia. (Friends of Then download AcadiaQuest. It’s a fun activity with a dozen unique attributes of Acadia NP. You and your 10 year old can choose from fifteen “Quests” as you collect ‘badges” exploring Duck Brook Bridge, Sieur de Monts Spring, Bubble Pond, and twelve other “Quests”. 
My Grandchildren (ages 12,10,6) had some fun with it.

Have a wonderful experience at Acadia!