Tips for Visiting Acadia National Park in the Fall

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View of acadia national park in the fall

Did you know that Acadia National Park is in the top five national parks for annual visitation? It welcomes a million more visitors than the next closest eastern national park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park. But most of these people travel to Maine in the summer. Have you ever thought about an Acadia National Park fall trip? 

If not, it’s time you did. Today, we’re looking at tips to make your fall trip up the East Coast memorable and enjoyable. Let’s dive in!

Where Is Acadia National Park?

Acadia National Park is one of the most-visited national parks in the United States. About four million people have visited this northeastern park each of the last two years. It sits on Mount Desert Island in Maine near Bar Harbor and is fondly known as the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast.”

What Is Acadia National Park Known for?

With 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads, and 60 miles of coastline, Acadia National Park protects the natural beauty of coastal Maine and the culture and history of this area. It encompasses nearly 50,000 acres from the Schoodic Peninsula to Mount Desert Island to Southwest Harbor.

Popular destinations in Acadia National Park include Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, Sand Beach, and Schoodic Point. The park is known for its abundance of hiking trails, from strolls along the rocky coastline to strenuous hikes requiring rungs and ladders. The Beehive Loop is one of the most popular hikes for adventurers who want 360-degree views.

Acadia National Park also tells the story of the Wabanaki people at the Abbe Museum. Visitors can stroll the land of the Carroll Homestead to learn more about early farm life in Maine. And a visit to Acadia isn’t complete without walking along the world-renowned network of carriage roads and bridges built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Acadia National Park?

Because Acadia National Park sits in Maine, the busiest months are July, August, and September. Most of the four million people who visit Acadia come during these months. If you can avoid the summer and travel in the shoulder seasons of late spring or fall, you’ll avoid the crowds.

Acadia has small parking lots at trailheads and famous landmarks like Thunder Hole and Sand Beach. You’ll find vehicles parked along the roadways and few parking options during the summer. Visitors must also purchase a reservation ticket to drive up to Cadillac Mountain due to the heavy traffic during the peak season.

However, there’s a reason people visit in the summer. The weather is comfortable and pleasant. The bustling town of Bar Harbor opens its doors for shopping, dining, and tours. Everything is operating in full swing during the peak season.

View of acadia national park in the fall

Why Plan an Acadia National Park Fall Trip?

An Acadia National Park fall trip is an excellent way to avoid the abovementioned crowds. But it’s also a beautiful time of year in Maine. The view from Cadillac Mountain is stunning as the fall foliage transforms the coastline.

Biking along the carriage roads takes you into the oranges, reds, and yellows of fall, and the trees around Jordan Pond make for spectacular photo opportunities with the reflecting waters below.

If you want to catch a sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, you also don’t have to wake up as early in the fall. Summer visitors must be at the top by 3:30 to 4:00 a.m. most mornings to welcome the day. This can make for a very long day!

You’ll also find cheaper lodging, less waiting at restaurants, and more open parking spots at trailheads during the fall. Bar Harbor does an excellent job of welcoming tourists, but it’s a pricey place during peak season. Save some money and plan an Acadia National Park fall trip.

What Is the Weather Like in Acadia National Park During Fall?

In September, the weather in Acadia is still relatively mild and pleasant. It can be windy along the coastline, but you won’t have snow or freezing temperatures yet.

Rain is widespread during September and October, however, so plan accordingly. Pack layers and rain gear so you can still enjoy the abundance of outdoor activities in this magnificent national park.

If you wait until October to visit, the temperatures will start to turn quickly. Early morning and late evening will be downright cold. It’s still a beautiful time to visit but be prepared for much colder weather.

7 Tips for an Enjoyable Acadia National Park Fall Trip

An Acadia National Park fall trip is a perfect way to spend a week or two in September or early October. We have seven tips to make your visit even more enjoyable. Let’s take a look!

1. Book Early

It’s critical to book reservations early. Even though it’s not peak season, lodging accommodations will still be nearly full. You’ll want to book Airbnb rentals, campgrounds, or hotels as soon as possible. You’ll also want to book reservations at Jordan Pond or other popular nearby restaurants in advance. 

If you plan on getting professional photos taken or getting out on the water for a lobster boat tour, make these reservations sooner rather than later. Practically everything shuts down after mid-October in Maine, so everyone is trying to get in those last-minute trips before the winter cold sets in.

2. Hike the Precipice Loop

When you visit Acadia National Park in the fall, hike the Precipice Loop. This popular trail is often closed for several months from May to mid-August because of peregrine falcon nesting. So take advantage of it when you visit in the fall. 

This 3.2-mile roundtrip hike isn’t recommended for children under age 12 or those with a fear of heights as it requires traversing over iron rungs and along steep cliff faces. But the views of Frenchman Bay and the surrounding area from Champlain Mountain are stunning.

View of precipice loop at acadia national park in the fall

3. Watch a Sunrise From Cadillac Mountain

You need a timed entry ticket to drive up to Cadillac Mountain from the end of May to the end of October. Visit to get yours before your Acadia National Park fall trip.

Visitors are allowed one sunrise ticket every seven days. Awaiting daybreak on top of Cadillac Mountain, looking across the Atlantic Ocean is truly a memorable experience. The golden colors of fall against the morning sunshine rays are picture-perfect.

4. Watch a Sunset at Bass Harbor Lighthouse

At the end of the day, head to Bass Harbor Lighthouse to enjoy a sunset. You don’t need a timed entry ticket, but the parking lot is small and always crowded. So you’ll want to arrive with plenty of time to spare. Take a walk out on the rocks along the shoreline and sit down for a breathtaking scene as night falls.

Read More: So how many national parks are there in Maine? Dive in and see!

View of bass harbor lighthouse at acadia national park in the fall

5. Drive Park Loop Road

Park Loop Road is the main scenic drive through Acadia National Park. Although it’s spectacular any time of year, it’s especially beautiful in fall as the colors change. Several overlooks sit along the road, so bring your binoculars and a tripod. You’ll want to capture some epic photos along this drive.

View of loop road in acadia national park in the fall

6. Bike the Carriage Roads

To immerse yourself in the beauty of fall, rent bikes and hit the carriage roads in Acadia National Park. The fall foliage surrounds you as you enjoy biking these historic roads that philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gifted to the park.

He wanted a motor-free way to explore, and these carriage roads and numerous bridges define the architecture and add to the natural beauty of this place.

7. Pack Warm Clothes

Finally, temperatures will dip into the low 40s in October. You’ll want plenty of warm clothes when watching a sunrise or sunset. Pack layers to enjoy early mornings and late evenings, day hikes, and bike rides. There’s so much to do from sun up to sun down, so make sure you’re prepared with the proper clothing.

When Is Peak Fall Foliage in Acadia National Park?

If you’re willing to tough out the incoming colder temperatures, peak fall foliage in coastal Maine is usually mid-to-late October. Northern Maine will have peak season earlier in late September and early October.

But even if you visit Acadia National Park in mid-September, you’ll still witness the beautiful fall colors. It’s a masterpiece against the blue waters of the Atlantic and the other lakes and ponds in the park.

Keep in Mind: While in Maine, add these 9 Secret Places to your itinerary!

Is an Acadia National Park Fall Visit Worth It?

If you haven’t planned an Acadia National Park fall trip, it’s time you do so. This northeastern park is known for its crashing waves, miles of hiking trails, and early sunrises. But you don’t have to visit in the summer peak season to enjoy the beauty and outdoor activities. 

The fall season is a great time to hike, picnic, bike, and explore. So get online and make those reservations for your Acadia National Park fall trip!

What do you most look forward to doing?

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