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Best Months To Visit Acadia National Park

Leaf Covered Carriage Road in Acadia during autumn
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Acadia National Park is nothing short of stunning any time of year. It has the best of what forests, woods, and mountains can give you. In addition, the park features an awesome nautical scene complete with whale watching and beach combing.

However, there is a “best time” to visit the park. April, May and June can still be a little wet and foggy and July and August can be buggy and crowded. When you consider the weather, lack of crowds, limitless activities and the change of seasons, the best months for a trip to Acadia National Park are September and October.

Acadia In Fall
Leaf Covered Carriage Road in Acadia during fall

Visiting Acadia in September

September is a great time to visit the park. The weather is spectacular, crowds have thinned and all the activities in the park are fully available.

Weather in September

The weather in the park this time of year is very comfortable. It’s not frigid yet and the days are still long and warm. In September you can expect highs in the high 60’s and lows in the high 40’s. Just enough for a jacket and great for roasting marshmallows over the fire at night.

Snow has not yet arrived and the average rainfall for Acadia is under 3 inches in September. You are likely to get dry days and even sunshine during your stay, where you are likely to have at least 17 days of sunshine. Towards the end of the month you will start to see color in the leaves in the park and all of Maine.

Crowds in September

September is a popular month to visit Acadia, but not the most popular. After Labor Day children will return to school, which will hinder most family vacations. This will also cut down on the amount of people you see in the park. Things will start to simmer down and you will see less people on trails and more places to park when you are hunting for a place to put your vehicle.

Activities in September

All roads, beaches, visitors centers, museums and gardens are open in September. The beauty of the park is just as it has been all summer, with things in bloom, leaves still on the trees and temperatures great for hiking and biking.

If you are courageous you can even still get some swimming in. The Activity Shop in Bar Harbor rents wetsuits for $25 per week, so there is no excuse not to go into the water.

Acadia showcases a Night Sky Festival every September to welcome back the Northern Lights. The Aurora Borealis can only be seen in New England between August and October, so make sure you take advantage of the festival and see the lights with a cheerful atmosphere of fellowship and celebration.

September is also a great time to walk or bike the 45 miles of carriage roads in the park. John D. Rockefeller, whose philanthropy resulted in 11,000 acres of land and the construction of 57 miles of carriage roads, was a visionary who imagined people being able to enjoy nature without the hinderance of automobiles. These carriage roads include carriage houses and ornate bridges that add to the mystique and intrigue of the park.

Walking or riding your bike is an incredible way to see Mount Desert Island. The forest is teeming with a canopy of birds and you may see deer and other smaller animals on your visit. The roads also lead to and pass by unimaginable vista views of the coast where you can see rock cliff faces and dramatic beach scenes.

Best Months To Visit Acadia National Park
Aurora Borealis in Acadia

Visiting Acadia in October

October is another great month to visit Acadia National Park. The weather is still wonderful, leaf-peeping season is in full tilt and all services will remain open until the end of the month.

Weather in October

There will be a noticeable change in weather from September to October with temperatures being about ten degrees cooler for highs and lows. However, don’t let this deter you. With proper clothing, spending time outdoors in these pleasant temperatures will be enjoyable. The month of October will still be free of snow so roads will still be clear and open.

Crowds in October

The changing leaves will bring an uptick in visitors in the month of October, but they still won’t be as plentiful as in the summer season. You may see cruise ships in Bar Harbor carrying visitors that want to get a look at the autumnal foliage. This may add to the busyness of the region as many clamor to see the spectacular colors that only a New England fall can produce.

Best Months To Visit Acadia National Park
Fall in Acadia

Activities in Acadia in October

Hiking

All services are still open in October in the park, but you will start to see notices of impending closures on November 1st pop up within the park. Don’t worry though, you are still in the safe zone and there is plenty to do.

There is no better time to climb a mountain in Acadia, than in October when the leaves are at their peak. Getting up on top of a mountain and looking into the colorful valley below aflame with maple, birch, oak and beech trees will be a sight you won’t soon forget.

One of the most popular treks is the Beehive Trail and Champlain Mountain. This hike is gorgeous all year long but has something extra special when the leaves have changed. There will be ladders to climb and ledges on the edge of shear cliffs, but it will be exhilarating and you will have a confidence at the end that will fill you with pride.

Cadillac Ridge Trail on Cadillac Mountain is another prime hike to summit in the fall. This 4.2 mile hike can be taken early in the morning with lanterns and flashlights to be combined with the stunning sunrise seen at dawn. October to March is the best time to see the sunrise on the mountain. Many take a breakfast picnic to take in the scenery that the new day brings as the sun crests the horizon and reveals the stunning colors of fall with the backdrop of the Atlantic ocean and its accompanying islands.

Best Months To Visit Acadia National Park
Hiking a trail in Acadia National Park

Canoeing and Kayaking

Canoeing and kayaking the lakes and ponds of the region is yet another way to take in the foliage and the beauty it brings. Eagle Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Acadia and taking your water vessel on the lake can be an experience like no other. The deafening quiet, the sound of the water and the chance to perhaps catch the sight of a bald eagle or river otter make this activity a great way to see this part of the park.

Jordan Pond is also a highly sought out part of the park. Take your kayak out on the lake and enjoy the scenery. After your adventure, you can enjoy hot tea and popovers as you warm your body from the chill of fall. Sit on the lawn and take in the view or warm up in the house, the choice is yours.

Lighthouse tours

Seeing the lighthouses of Acadia during the month of October can be a fantastic time to get amazing photos featuring crashing waves, the colors of fall and the historic lighthouses of Acadia.

There are many lighthouses in the region but only three of them can be accessed by walking. Bass Harbor, Prospect Harbor and Burnt Coat Harbor Light Houses can all be reached from a walkable distance on the island.

If you would like to take a boat tour there are eight lighthouses that you can view and photograph from the Atlantic Ocean. This could be a great addition to your trip plans and can be quite the adventure. Other exploration by boat can include whale and dolphin tours.

Last but not least, October is Acadia’s Oktoberfest. Get ready to drink beer, dance the polka and eat lots of food! Located at Bass Harbor, the ambiance of the location will add to the fun of the day.

Visiting Acadia in the months of September and October are the best times to visit and enjoy the park. With so much to see and do, you will want to come back next year for more!

Wendy Edwards
Wendy is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. But for the past seven years she has traveled by RV to many National Parks, monuments and everywhere in between. She and her family of five, a furry canine friend and a bearded dragon have crossed the United States thirty one times. She never tires of hiking, biking, camping and photographing this beautiful country.