One of Maine’s best features is its incredibly scenic, driveable roads. That’s not to say it’s especially easy to get everywhere – we’ve all heard the ubiquitous “you can’t get there from here!” – but if you’re driving for driving’s sake, Maine offers a lot! One of our favorites is the Acadia All-American Byway.
This beautiful road trip will take you on a 40-mile journey through Acadia National Park. Also known as the "loop road," it provides easy access to some of the highlights of Maine's only National Park. All together, it should take you about 3 hours. Expect to spend more time if you enjoy stopping often and enjoying the view. We recommend truly taking your time with this trip. There's so much to see and so much to appreciate that you plan on spending the whole day here.
Your drive will begin about 10 miles North of Acadia National Park. Head East on Route 3 en route to Bar Harbor. Along the way you'll pass through the Trenton Interior (lookout for wildlife!), Thomas and Thompson Islands and then the Northeast Creek.
Once you reach Northeast Creek, continue to head East until you reach the Hulls Cove Visitor Center where the All-American Road becomes the Loop Road.
Take a quick stop at
Hull Cove Visitor Center, then continue on - you have lots to see! Continue your drive through the woods and, in about five miles, you'll reach a smaller road leading to the Nature Center.
The Nature Center includes lots of interesting information, including exhibits that talk about habitat, the night sky and the weather patterns in the area. There's almost always a park ranger available to answer your questions. Next be sure to visit the
Sieur de Monts Spring, located behind the building to the left. After this short stop, head to the Abbe Museum, just up the path from here.
The Abbe museum includes lots of interesting information related to Native American history and culture in Maine. Before you continue the road journey, stop and see The Wild Gardens of Acadia.
The Wild Gardens are cared for by the Bar Harbor Garden Club. Everything contained here reflects the natural habitat of Mount Desert Island and includes over 300 native species of plants. Each is identified so you'll know exactly what you're looking at.
Once you've returned to your car, head about a mile along the road to reach the magnificent Champlain Mountain Overlook.
Park along the Park Loop Road and take in the view! You'll see Gouldsboro Hills, Frenchman Bay, and the end of Schoodic Peninsula. While here, look back and to the left for a view of Thrumcap Island. The island includes a rookery for gulls and cormorants, so be sure to keep an eye out!
About 4 miles from your stop at the overlook is
Sand Beach. If you're looking to go for a (very cold) swim in Acadia, this is your place.
This portion of the trip is just as beautiful as the rest, with many areas to pull over and simply take in the view.
Remember that Sand Beach is likely to be chilly. If you plan on SUPing or doing any other sort of in-water activity, you may want to prepare accordingly. A wet-suit will do the trick, as will a few pulls on an Allen's bottle. Don't do that if you're the driver on this trip, though!
After Sand Beach, continue towards legendary Thunder Hole!
Thunder Hole is so named because of the thunderous sound made by waves crashing into a slot of a cave made in the rocks. The air in the cave becomes compressed with each incoming wave and the resulting noise can be heard throughout the area. There are likely to be lots of people here, so you may need to wait your turn to get close enough to see what's happening. Always be careful of the craggy coastline in Acadia! People have been known to be drenched by surprise waves once they've turned their back. Never turn your back on the water in Acadia. About a mile from this area is
Again, pull over and take some time to explore this area. There are lots of places to have a little bit of a rock scramble. If you're there about an hour before low tide, head further down, to explore the tidal pools.
Continue your drive through a more wooded part of the park.
You'll also see the
Carriage Roads on this part of your drive. Created by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1917, these road don't allow any motorized vehicles and are a great way to explore on foot, bicycle or horse.
If you're interested in a wagon ride on the Carriage Roads, stop by
Wildwood Stables about 4.5 miles past Otter Point.
You might be getting hungry by now, which is super convenient considering that you'll be nearing the
Jordon Pond House.
The Jordon Pond House offers a traditional tea or more substantial meals. Enjoy the incredible view of the Bubbles from the deck or the grassy area next to the pond.
Folks have been enjoying tea on the lawn for a century. Give it a try and you'll understand why it's never fallen out of favor.
With any luck (or pre-planning), you've arrived in this area a bit before the sun begins to go down. Head up the hill about 3.5 miles to the
summit of Cadillac Mountain.
Cadillac Mountain is the tallest peak on the east coast, North of Rio de Janeiro. It's also the first place in the US to see the sunrise between October and March.
By the end of this trip, you'll have had a long, but beautiful day. Grab a lawn chair (the one you packed in the car in the morning despite the fact that I forgot to mention it at the start of this article) and enjoy the end to another wonderful Maine day.