A Winter Guide to Acadia National Park
In the northeastern corner of the United States lies Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park. Even during the winter months, the mountains, woodlands and ponds look stunning beneath its thin veil of snow. Since Acadia National Park was only a short drive away from Dan’s school, we visited the park frequently regardless of the weather.
The following is a guide of what you can expect to see at Acadia National Park in the winter.
Entering the Park
A little snow has never stopped Mainers from enjoying the great outdoors! Parts of Acadia National Park are still open during the winter time. From the town of Bar Harbor, you can let yourself into the park through Schooner Head Road. Usually Acadia National Park’s entrance fee is about $25 per car during peak and shoulder season—good for 7 days. But when you visit during the winter between Nov 1 – Apr 30 (because let’s face it—winter starts early and ends late in Maine), the park admission is free! Although this means, the visitor centers and public restrooms, as well as sections of the Park Loop Road will be closed. To bypass the Park Loop Road closures, you can drive through residential areas.
Schooner Head Overlook
When you’ve entered the park, your first stop will be at Schooner Head Overlook, which offers a vast view of the Atlantic Ocean right from the parking lot. Personally, I enjoy taking a peek at the marvelously large mansion perched atop Schooner Head. Furthermore, there’s a path you can take which ventures down to the rocks, although we don’t recommend that in the snow since you could easily slip or get engulfed in the waves. After a quick look, we moved onto the next destination, Sand Beach.
Between the granite mountains and rocky shore is Sand Beach. At first, I didn’t understand why you’d name a beach, ‘Sand Beach’. Aren’t all beaches sandy? But little did I know, it’s actually quite rare for a beach in Maine to have nice sand. While Maine has hundreds of miles of coastline, it’s mostly rocks and jagged cliffs! Therefore, Sand Beach is a delight for both visitors and locals.
Seal Harbor Beach
When it’s below 30F with snow on the ground, the last thing I want to do is strenuous hiking. Luckily, Seal Harbor has a small parking lot directly across the beach, so we could hop in and out of our car whenever it got too cold to bear. We were the only ones there in March, so we relaxed and enjoyed a simple picnic from inside our car with a view of the golden sand and tree-topped islands. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any seals!
To get to Jordan Pond, we drove through a residential neighborhood and turned onto Jordan Pond Road. Typically there should be wide vista of mountains surrounding the pond, but in our case, the mountains were masked by endless fog. Even through the thick blanket of snow, we appreciated the vast, breathtaking view. Something about the fog rolling in through trees has always looked dream-like to me! Eventually, we mustered up the courage to walk across the solid, iced-over pond. We even found few tracks in the snow. Perhaps someone had been snowmobiling here recently!
What to Eat
The best place to go for your dining and shopping needs would be Bar Harbor, the town before Acadia National Park. But when we arrived in March, Bar Harbor was understandably a ghost town. If you’re lucky during your visit, there may be one or two small restaurants open, but don’t expect to have a variety of options. Instead, we packed our own lunch and brought plenty of snacks and water for the day trip.
Aside from our scenic drive, there are tons of other fun winter activities that you can do at Acadia National Park. Depending on the weather conditions, you could go cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, winter camping, ice fishing, snowmobiling, or birding.
If you are staying in the New England region during the winter season, Acadia National Park would make for a great day or overnight trip! We lived only an hour away, so we were compelled to visit. Please be careful on the roads though! And don’t underestimate the size of Maine during your drive.
Looking for more on Acadia National Park?
Read another post on Acadia National Park in the Winter for a wicked amount of wintery photos!