Acadia's beauty is well-known and, while I like to think nobody takes it for granted, it is certainly easy to forget how it came to be. In addition to the history of its creation, there are some pretty interesting facts about Maine's only National Park. They are worth remembering the next time you spend a few days enjoying the outdoors on Mount Desert Island. Here are just a few of them.
1. There are 26 different mountains within the park.
Acadia is more than just Cadillac! While a good, hearty hike is fulfilling, I love heading to the area and spending a few days enjoying some of the shorter, easier trails.
2. At least 20% of the park is actually considered "wetland."
So, while it's easy to think of Acadia as mountains and uphill hikes, an important part of the ecosystem includes the networks of streams and lakes that exist within the boundaries. And, each of these separate areas of wetlands have at least one rare plant.
3. Cadillac Mountain isn't always the first place to see the sunrise.
Many people think that America's first sunrise is on Cadillac Mountain. While that is true some of the time, it's not a claim that can be made year-round. From early October to early March, the sun rises farther to the south. With its completely unobstructed view of the horizon, Cadillac is the place to be for a winter sunrise. The rest of the time, you'll want to head to West Quoddy Head or Mars Hill.
4. Fire destroyed parts of Acadia in 1947.
After months without rain, a forest fire began in October 1947. By the time it was extinguished, 10,000 acres of land had been badly burned. Eventually, locals rebuilt and birch and aspen trees replaced some of the previous fir and spruce trees. Eventually, however, nature will bounce back and these trees will make their way back.
5. Acadia National Park went by other names first.
The first of Acadia's three names, Sieur de Monts National Monument, came when it opened in 1916. Three years later, the area became a national park and was re-named Lafayette National Park. In 1929, the park finally became Acadia, named after 17th and 18th century colony that existed within the park's land.
6. There are more than 120 miles of hiking trails in Acadia.
Many of these miles can be tackled in a day, some without breaking much of a sweat. So, don't discount Acadia National Park as something only for the pros. Click
here for some good, basic information about trails.
7. The park's carriage roads were built with Rockefeller's teeth in mind.
Well, sort of. John D. Rockefeller was one of the most significant donors and supporters of Acadia. In addition to donating 11,000 acres of land, he was responsible for the creation of more than 45 miles of carriage roads that allowed him to travel through the park without interference from cars. The stones that now stick up at the side of the road act as guardrails and are said to look just like Rockefeller's teeth.
8. While Rockefeller is a notable Acadia figure, we also owe our gratitude to two other men.
The son of Harvard president, Charles W. Eliot was a passionate supporter of preserving the land on Mount Desert Island. After his untimely death at 38, his father made sure to honor his wishes by creating the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations. The group purchased land to maintain it for the public. Eliot brought worked closely with George Bucknam Dorr, who became so passionate about the project that he is known as the true father of Acadia National Park.
9. Dorr used much of his own money for the creation and preservation of Acadia.
This was a decades long project that included Dorr not only spending his own inhertiance, but also working to convince other locals to donate their land for long-term preservation. After enlisting the help of the Federal Government and naming the area a National Monument, Dorr continued to work for its expansion. Ultimately, the park became 35,000 acres as well as 12,000 acres that are privately managed by the National Park Service.
10. Acadia is a bird watcher's paradise.
Many birds of prey pass through the area on their trip South. In fact, from August to mid-fall, numerous hawks and other raptors are closely monitored atop Cadillac Mountain during what is called
. Did you know that Peregrine Falcons are native to Acadia? Clicking the link mentioned will give you more information about the birds and the watch program.