Table of Contents Show
- Number of National Parks in Maine
- About Acadia National Park
- Other National Parks Service Sites in Maine
- Is Maine’s Only National Park Worth Visiting?
Maine is a special place for many reasons, but tallying up its national parks can be tricky. There’s no question that Maine has many historic and scenic places worth protecting and preserving. But how many national parks do you think Maine has? The answer may surprise you.
It’s complicated, you might say, because the National Park Service (NPS) oversees other kinds of properties in addition to national parks. What the agency calls “units” can also include things like national historic sites, battlefields, seashores, and monuments. Nationwide, there are 63 national parks and 423 park service units. When you include these other NPS sites, you’ll get a bigger picture of what Maine has to offer.
Number of National Parks in Maine
So the big question is, how many national parks does Maine have? The short answer is one, but it’s confusing. On its official website, even the park service says it’s four. But if you read carefully, you’ll learn that only Acadia National Park carries the official national park designation. It’s the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River. It’s so popular that it draws some 3.5 million people a year.
About Acadia National Park
With its headquarters in Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park covers over 47,000 acres in Maine’s Midcoast region. Much of the park is on Mount Desert Island, offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re looking to visit this incredible place, here’s some inside information for you.
How to Get There
Maine’s only official national park is about 40 miles from Bangor. If you’re coming from the south, take Interstate 95 to Augusta and then take State Route 3 east through Ellsworth. As an alternative, from Bangor, you can take I-395 to U.S. Route 1A to Ellsworth.
There are two campgrounds on the island, and another in an area of the mainland called the Schoodic Peninsula. Together, the campgrounds have almost 500 tent and RV sites, and some have electricity. There is no sewer, but there are dump stations on the premises.
In addition, a smaller island called Isle au Haut has five campsites with wooden lean-tos as shelter. The campgrounds generally open in May and close in October. Rates vary between $22 and $40 per night, and you can make reservations through the website, Recreation.gov.
The entrance fee for a private vehicle is $30, and it’s good for seven days. That’s for a non-commercial vehicle that holds up to 15 passengers. For motorcycles, it’s $25, and it’s $15 without an automobile (hikers and bicyclists). Admission is free for people 15 years old and younger. You can get an annual pass for $55.
When to Go
Our favorite times to visit Maine are late spring and early fall. Of course, it gets bitterly cold in the winters, so we like to wait until the weather warms up. It’s best to avoid the peak crowds of June, July, and August. As we said, the park attracts 3.5 million people a year, and most of those visits are in the summer.
Other National Parks Service Sites in Maine
OK, we’ve crossed Maine’s national park off our list, so that leaves some other NPS units to explore. Let’s take a look at Maine’s other protected treasures.
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
This stunning landscape of forests and mountains preserves 87,543 acres and offers spectacular views of Mount Katahdin. North of Bangor in north-central Maine, this national monument is about a 2.5-hour drive from Acadia. You can experience an incredible variety of flora and fauna and pristine rivers and streams. The dark skies make it popular with stargazers, too.
Maine Acadian Culture
The park service maintains important cultural sites, and this one relates to the unique Acadian heritage. This culturally significant area is in the northernmost reaches of Maine, in the St. John Valley near the Canadian border. You can visit remaining French colonial buildings and find out how those early settlers helped to shape modern-day America. The attractions here include a scenic byway, a museum, and a reconstructed village.
Saint Croix International Historic Site
Because of Maine’s proximity to Canada, the two countries share ownership of two national park service holdings. This historic site in Calais marks the location of one of the first successful French expeditions. Unfortunately, nearly half of the explorers died during that brutal winter of 1604 and 1605. Those who survived are credited with leading the way toward French colonization. The historic site is a small park with a short trail with interpretive markers along the scenic St. Croix River.
Roosevelt Campobello Island International Park
This unique park off Maine’s coast is actually in New Brunswick, Canada. What makes Campobello Island famous is that President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s family vacationed here, and it’s where he loved to swim. The family’s vacation home and the surrounding lands became an international park in 1964. The U.S. and Canada have maintained it jointly ever since.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail starts in Georgia and crisscrosses parts of 14 states in all. The NPS oversees the last 300 miles, which wind up in Baxter State Park in central Maine. For hikers, this final stretch is the most challenging. Hitting the A.T., as it’s called, also means amazing opportunities for day hikes and backcountry camping.
Is Maine’s Only National Park Worth Visiting?
If you’re anywhere near the northeastern corner of the U.S., it would be a shame to pass up Acadia National Park. One of its many points of interest is the 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain, the East Coast’s tallest peak.
The park is also home to 158 miles of hiking trails and a 27-mile scenic drive called Park Loop Road. The park’s 45 miles of carriage roads are a particularly unique feature. These narrow roads were state of the art when they were built in the 1920s but seem quaint these days. They are too narrow for motor vehicles but fantastic for hiking and mountain biking. For these and other reasons, Maine’s only true national park is certainly worth visiting. So are the other special areas in Maine that the park service manages.
Will you visit Maine’s only national park?