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Winter in Maine is magical, and Acadia National Park is no exception. If you’ve been during the bustling summer months, you might barely recognize it – spots that are crowded in the middle of the year are often eerily quiet in the colder months.
Here are some tips to make the most of your winter visit to Maine’s national park.
What’s open – and what’s not
Some of the most popular spots in Acadia aren’t as accessible in the off-season. Most of the Park Loop Road is closed to automobile traffic from December through early spring, except for the portion between Sand Beach to Otter Cliff Road. (Early or late winter weather may extend that closure.) This includes the road to the top of Cadillac Mountain.
In addition, many of the businesses in nearby Bar Harbor are closed for the winter months. While you’ll still be able to stock up on the essentials at year-round businesses in town, you won’t have the full spectrum of shopping options you’d have during the summer!
There are plenty of great treks for adventurous, experienced hikers, especially when the ground is bare. Please note that Acadia’s services – including most restrooms – are unavailable in winter, so plan ahead. This goes for emergency services as well, so know your limits and don’t push pass your comfort zone.
Even though the Park Loop Road is closed, there’s still plenty to do. One section remains open year-round, from Sand Beach to Otter Cliff Road. This popular stretch is much less busy in the winter, and it allows you to get a glimpse of favorites like Thunder Hole without a crowd! Coastal rocks can be slippery and icy, though, so please be careful and respect any barricades or signage.
When there’s snow on the ground, there are other great opportunities to explore. Snowmobiles are allowed on the Park Loop Road, including the sections closed to cars. Snowshoers and cross-country skiers will love the Carriage Trails that run throughout the park!
Winter is also a great time to explore the beautiful Schoodic Peninsula section of the park. Again, be very careful if you decide to explore the rocks.
The Appalachian Mountain Club’s guide to Acadia is a great resource for anyone interested in a visit. The book includes a wonderful, comprehensive map that outlines what’s available in the park.
Preparing for a winter Acadia visit
Maine’s winter weather is legendary for a reason. It’s important to respect the weather as you choose your activities. Maine’s weather often changes suddenly and can easily take you by surprise.
If you’re going to be spending lots of time outdoors, dress warmly with layers. Keep in mind that a lot of Acadia National Park has spotty cell phone service, so make sure to let someone know your plans before you go.
For more information about Acadia’s winter activities, visit the Winter Activities page on the National Park Service website. Enjoy your visit!