The Ultimate Guide to Acadia National Park in Maine for RVers

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Everything you need to know to enjoy the rugged, awe-inspiring scenery of Acadia National Park in your RV.

RVers Guide to Acadia National Park in Maine

A Little About Acadia National Park in Maine

Acadia was the first National Park east of the Mississippi River and is 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.

The Ultimate Guide to Acadia National Park in Maine for RVers

Getting to the Park

No matter where you live, getting to Maine can be a bit of a trek. Let me assure you, whether you drive, fly, 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.

RV rental acadia national park Maine

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

RV rentals are available with RVShare, 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

Blackwoods Campground is located 5 miles south of Bar Harbor. Blackwoods is right in the middle of the sights and sounds of Acadia. A short walk from your campsite will take you right to 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

Seawall Campground is located 4 miles south of Southwest Harbor and 18 miles southwest of Bar Harbor. Seawall 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

Schoodic Woods Campground is located 3 miles southeast of Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula, separate from Mount Desert Island. Schoodic Woods 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

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

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

The ten routes of the free shuttle will get you to most of the must-see spots and trailheads in the park. You can catch a shuttle from the bus stop at your campground or from the Hulls Cove Visitor Center. During the busy season, parking can be difficult at popular spots so taking the shuttle can save you many headaches trying to navigate the crowds.

The first day of tackling a new National Park can be overwhelming, so we loved being able to ride the shuttle and get sort of and overview of the park. My son has an affinity for public transportation. Naturally, riding the shuttle was his favorite part!

What to Do

Tour the Park Loop Road

Start with the Park Loop Road for the essential Acadia sights. You can travel this 27-mile loop in most RVs, but there are height restrictions because of some historic bridge underpasses. We recommend just skipping the math (and parking) and taking the shuttle. Have your selfie face ready! Many Instagrammable views lie around the loop:

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

Go Hiking

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

Check out TREKKN’s guide to Acadia National Park hikes not to be missed!

Acadia National Park Precipice Trail
Acadia National Park Precipice Trail

Spend a Day at the Beach

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…not warm, but warmer. 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!

Acadia National Park Maine Ocean path Trail

Bike the Carriage Trails

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.

See the Sun Rise or Set at Cadillac Mountain

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 Acadian experience.

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

Explore a Tidepool

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.

Things to Do In Acadia National Park Maine
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley

Visit Bass Harbor Lighthouse

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 swapped out — 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

All the Lobster

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.

Popovers at Jordan Pond House

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 Shopping and Eating
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley

 

Wild Blueberry Ice Cream

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.

Extra Tips for Acadia

Acadia National Park Maine
Image credit: Kelsey Hensley
  • 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.
Acadia National Park RVers Guide
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.
  • If wildlife watching is high on your list, then plan ahead. Unlike some National Parks, the wildlife in Acadia is not front and center (and 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!

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RVers Guide to Acadia National Park in Maine

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Acadia National Park in Maine for RVers”

    • 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!

      Todd

      Reply

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