Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park, a great sight for RVers to visit

The Ultimate RV Travel Guide to Acadia National Park

As you start planning your next RV road trip, include Maine as one of your top destinations. The landscape, mountains, lakes, and ocean views are stunning. If you’re not sure where to start your agenda, we’ve got you covered! We share our personal experience and lots of other tips. This is your RV Guide to Acadia National Park.

Get ready to enjoy the rugged, awe-inspiring scenery of Acadia National Park!

A Little Bit About Acadia National Park

Acadia was the first National Park east of the Mississippi River. It’s comprised of the lands on and around Mount Desert Island, Maine. With magnificent dome-shaped granite mountain tops, rocky shorelines pummeled by waves, and sharp tree lines that fall into beautiful mountain lakes, Acadia is one of those places that no photo can do justice.

You simply have to experience it for yourself. Gas up the truck, pack up the RV, and hit the road to see, hear, smell, and touch all that Acadia has to offer.

RVers Guide to Acadia National Park in Maine

RV Guide to Acadia National Park

How to Get to Acadia

No matter where you live, getting to Maine can be a bit of a trek. Let me assure you, however, that whether you have to fly, drive, or crawl, getting to Acadia is worth it.

The main park entrance is located outside of Bar Harbor, Maine.


Acadia National Park is within a day’s drive from:

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Hartford Connecticut
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • Albany, New York

Any of those locations would be a good stopover on your way up. During our trip, we decided to stop in Boston and it made for an easy drive into the park.


If flying in and renting an RV is more your style, the nearest airports are

RV rentals are available with RVezy, Outdoorsy, Cruise America (near Boston) as well as various RV dealerships in the area.

Where to Stay

For the best experience, staying inside the park is where it’s at. Acadia National Park has four campgrounds, three of which are RV friendly. Reservations are essential.

  • Blackwoods Campground
  • Seawall Campground
  • Schoodic Woods Campground


Blackwoods Campground is located 5 miles south of Bar Harbor. The campground is right in the center of the sights and sounds of Acadia.

You can take a short walk from your campsite to enjoy the rocky shore and crashing waves.

Drive a few minutes down the road and you can enjoy a harborside lobster dinner or shop for souvenirs in downtown Bar Harbor. We stayed here during our visit to Acadia and we loved the location!

  • $30 per night
  • 35-foot maximum length
  • No water or electric hookups
  • Flush restrooms centrally located
  • Access to dump station
  • Access to potable water
  • Warm showers available from vendors nearby
Acadia National Park Guide RVers
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley


Seawall Campground is located 4 miles south of Southwest Harbor and 18 miles southwest of Bar Harbor. This is a great place to camp if you prefer a less touristy stay, since it is on the “quiet” side of the island.

There are fantastic trails nearby and access to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is just a few miles away.

  • $30 per night
  • 35-foot maximum length
  • No water or electric hookups
  • Flush restrooms centrally located
  • Access to dump station
  • Access to potable water


Schoodic Woods Campground is located 3 miles southeast of Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula, separate from Mount Desert Island. You may be happy to learn that Schoodic offers larger RV sites and a few more campground amenities.

The Schoodic Peninsula also tends to be less crowded (but no less picturesque), especially in the busy summer season.

  • $30-$40 per night
  • 53-foot maximum length
  • Water and electric hookups
  • Restrooms centrally located
  • Access to dump station
  • Warm showers available from vendors nearby

Getting Around Acadia

Thanks to the Island Explorer Shuttle, getting around Acadia is pretty simple.

Island Explorer Shuttle Acadia National Park Maine
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley

During the busy season, parking can be difficult at popular spots. Taking the Island Explorer shuttle can save you from many headaches trying to navigate through the crowds.

Acadia’s free shuttle offers ten routes so you can easily travel to most of the must-see spots and trailheads in the park. Catch a shuttle from the bus stop at your campground or from the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.

The first day of tackling a new National Park can be overwhelming. We chose to kick off our adventure by riding the shuttle to get an overview of the area and the park. My son has an affinity for public transportation. Naturally, riding the shuttle was his favorite part!

What to Do at Acadia National Park


Start with the Park Loop Road for the essential Acadia sights. You can travel this 27-mile loop in most RVs. However, check your route in advance because there are height restrictions at the historic bridge underpasses.

Personally, I recommend you avoid doing the planning, the math, and the parking. Take the shuttle. It’s a great way to see the stunning sights without having to worry about the road.

Here are the sights you can take in while traveling the Park Loop:

  • Thunder Hole
  • Otter Point
  • Sand Beach
  • Otter Cove
  • Jordan Pond
  • Bubble Pond
Acadia National Park Guide RVers
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley


Hiking is one of the best ways to really experience all Acadia has to offer. Trails range from easy walks along the shore to adrenaline-pumping hikes that involve scaling the side of a cliff via ladders.

The vantage points along the way are guaranteed to make you say “Wow!”

The Ship Harbor hike was our favorite. The trail was easy for the kids and we ended up on a high rock overlooking the ocean and incoming tide. We sat listening to loons call each other and watching sailboats pass by.

When you take a hike, you experience moments that you might not otherwise. You can see a guide to some of the best hiking trails in Acadia here.

Acadia National Park Precipice Trail
Acadia National Park Precipice Trail


A stay on the coast wouldn’t be complete without a day at the beach. The best beaches for swimming in Acadia are Sand Beach and Echo Lake Beach. If you want to really get in the water and swim, go to Echo Lake.

As an inland lake it has warmer water. Note that I said warmer, not warm. If you are a toe-dipper or shore walker, opt for Sand Beach because the water there is sure to be COLD, even in July.

Echo Lake was our family’s favorite beach. We had no trouble finding a place to park and the bathhouses made it easy to change in and out of our suits. It was the first time I have ever sat in the shade of a tree while watching the kids swim. I felt like I was living the good life!

3 hikers standing near edge of rock wall near Main ocean


Acadia’s historic carriage trails were originally built and funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The 45 miles of roads are still meticulously cared for and reserved for bikes, pedestrians and horses (with or without a carriage).

Grab your bike, pack a lunch, and spend a day enjoying the sights from two wheels. The stone arched bridges on the trails are almost as pretty as the scenic views.


Cadillac Mountain is the first place to see the sunrise in the United States. Venture to the top of the mountain before dawn to see what has been described as one of the most breath-taking sunrises in the country.

If mornings aren’t your thing (or if you are like me and don’t want to wrestle your kids out of bed before coffee) then opt for seeing the sunset from the top.

Both sunrise and sunset happen with a splendid view of the harbors, lakes, mountains, and islands that surround Acadia. According to my husband, seeing the sunset from Cadillac Mountain was the highlight of his experience at Acadia National Park.

Acadia National Park Maine Guide for RVers
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley


In Acadia, tidepooling is a favorite activity for kids and adults alike! Be sure to time your adventure at low tide. We were able to see mussels, sea stars, barnacles, crabs, and more.

Some of the best spots to explore tide pools are Little Hunters Beach, Bar Island Sand Bar, Wonderland, and Ship Harbor.

Sturdy bottomed water shoes are essential because the rocks can be very slippery. Bring a bucket, net or sand shovel to make it easier to get a better look at any creatures you find. Be gentle and take the time to put creatures back where you found them.

Close up of red orange colored starfish picked up by visitor at Acadia National Park
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley


Rocky Maine coast, wild roses, and a lighthouse…what’s not to love?! The Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a picturesque stop on the “quiet” side of Mount Desert Island. The walk down to the shore is easy via a new wooden stairway. Once there, scramble across the rocks to get the perfect shot for your Instagram.

Go early in the day because the parking area is extra tight and street parking is not allowed. We got to the lighthouse about lunchtime which meant there were no spaces to be had and there was a substantial line of cars waiting to get in the lot.

The kids were asleep in the car, so my husband and I took turns. I got out and took a look and then went back and sat in the car so he could do the same.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse Acadia National Park Maine
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley

What to Eat


Lobster isn’t just what’s on the plate; on Mount Desert Island, it is a way of life. Take your pick of “boat to table” restaurants where you can see fishermen unloading lobster pots from their boats right onto the dock by the restaurant.

Some places even have the cooking pots front and center so you can see your dinner go from the tank to the steamer. There are plenty of great places to eat lobster and other fare in Bar Harbor and scattered across the island.

For a quintessential Maine lobster experience, head to Thurston’s Lobster Pound on the west side of the island in Bernard.


Jordan Pond House has been serving tea and popovers (pastries eaten with butter and jam) since the 1890s and is still a great place to enjoy lunch or a snack.

The view from the lawn overlooking Jordan Pond and the Bubbles will make you feel extra fancy! Make reservations ahead of time if you plan on stopping in.

Acadia National Park Maine
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley


A stroll around downtown Bar Harbor is the perfect opportunity to grab some ice cream. Wild blueberry ice cream is a great way to get a taste of Maine right on the cone.

Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium is one of the most popular places to get a scoop, and I’m pretty sure it’s because they lure you there with the big red lobster holding an ice cream cone outside and the smell of freshly made waffle cones inside.

However, if the line looks too long (or the prices look too high), there are other places to get your sweet treat like CJ’s Big Dipper and Mount Desert Ice Cream.

We ended up at CJ’s Big Dipper and loved their blueberry ice cream.

People crossing the street to shopping area near Acadia National Park in Maine
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley

Extra Tips for Your Visit to Acadia National Park

  • Check the tide chart. Certain activities and are best seen at high tide, low tide or in between. For example, the Thunder Hole is best viewed halfway between high and low tides.
  • The air may be cool, but the mosquitoes don’t care. Between the campground and the hikes, we swore that the mosquitoes were trying to eat us alive in one sitting. Bring mosquito repellant…lots of it.
Purple flowers near lake at Acadia National Park
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley
  • If you are staying near Bar Harbor and the crowds get too thick, head to the “quiet” side of the island or spend the day exploring the Schoodic Peninsula. The scenery is just as beautiful but you may have the views all to yourself.
  • Add wildlife watching to your list. Then plan ahead. Because the wildlife in Acadia is not front and center. I was really sad to hear that no moose live on Mount Desert Island. To see larger animals, you may have to schedule a whale-watching boat tour or other off-shore excursions. These cruises are your best shot to see whales, puffins, dolphins, and seals. The next time we are in Acadia, we definitely plan on taking a boat ride to see some whales!


RVers Guide to Acadia National Park in Maine

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  1. We’ve been to Maine twice but never to Acadia. We’re always looking for an excuse to go back and I think we just found it!

    1. I can guarantee you it’s worth another trip, Jennifer! Allow at least a week, if possible, to explore all corners of the park. It may be small, but there is so much to soak in.

      Happy travels!


  2. What a bummer that the RVers guide to Acadia doesn’t mention that you aren’t allowed to take an RV up to Cadillac Mtn. or down to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse! (Nor do the free shuttles go there.)
    It’s beautiful here, but it’s a disappointment to miss out on these for sure. =:(

    1. Hi Donna,
      We were not aware of these restrictions since we don’t try to access those spots, but I appreciate you sharing that info with the community!
      Take care.

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