Bring your Pendleton blanket and find a spot while it’s still dark. Watch the sky turn from black to deep blue as you listen to the calls of waking birds. Hear the rustle of ocean air as it raises waves to lap against the shoreline and skims through the forests of this peaceful paradise. Look to the distance, where the sky meets the Atlantic, and wait for the first rosy rays to brighten the horizon.
This is how you welcome daylight at Acadia National Park.
Acadia National Park is our easternmost national park. Its 47,000 acres reserve most of Mount Desert Island off the Atlantic Coast. Cadillac Mountain, named for French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, rises on the eastern side of the island. Its granite summit catches the first daylight in the continental United States each New Year’s Day.
Acadia National Park is part of the area known as the “Dawn land” by its original inhabitants, the Wabaniki people. A confederacy of five First Nations and Native American nations, the Wabaniki includes the Abenaki, Maliseet, Mi’maq, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot people. Ten thousand years before Mount Desert was sighted by Samuel de Champlain, these Algonquian-speaking natives lived in settlements along the Eastern seaboard.
Acadia’s Atlantic coast is a wonderland of ancient, lichen-covered boulders and rugged shoreline. President Woodrow Wilson established it as Sieur de Monts National Monument on July 8, 1916. On February 26, 1919, it was named Lafayette National Park. The name was changed to Acadia on January 19, 1929, to honor the former French colony of Acadia.
George W. Dorr is called the “father of Acadia National Park,” but its financial benefactor was definitely John D. Rockefeller, Jr. He paid to develop over 50 miles of gravel carriage trails, with features that include 17 granite bridges and two historic gate lodges that remain today. Along the paths are many cut granite “coping stones,” which act as rustic guardrails, and are known as “Rockefeller’s teeth.” The Rockefellers helped greatly with the reconstruction of the park after the wildfires of 1947, which destroyed over 10,000 acres.
Today, as one of the most-visited parks in the country, Acadia welcomes hikers and bicyclists to its trails. Forty different species of mammalian wildlife call Acadia home, including (from the small to the large) red and grey squirrels, chipmunks, white-tailed deer, beaver, porcupine, muskrat, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, black bear and moose. Acadia National Park is aided in preservation efforts by the Friends of Acadia, which has worked to create a private endowment that will maintain the current 44 mile carriage trail system in perpetuity.
Acadia National Park is waiting to welcome you, and the dawn, every morning. And it’s open now.
Photos by our intrepid #pendle10parks explorers:
Nikolai Karlov – @nikarlov (shots 3, 4, 5 & 6)
David Okoniewski – @oakcanoeski (shots 1 & 2)
See our Acadia National Park products here: SHOP