Whether you’re a camping connoisseur or total newbie, there are just some aspects of Acadia National Park that make this experience different from all the rest.
Located primarily on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, this 47,000 acre recreational area is one of the most beautiful spots in the country. Camping here is a goal that’s on practically everybody’s bucket list. But, to have the best experience possible, there are a few things (okay, a lot of things) you ought to know.
Below, we’ve crafted the ultimate guide to camping in Acadia National Park, including everything you’ll need to know to perfect your time in the great outdoors.
What to Bring
The Perfect Camping Gear
You simply cannot go camping at Acadia National Park without the ideal camping gear. It may sound obvious, but this is often the area that people falter the most.
You also don’t want to forget important components like headlamps, flashlights, lanterns, and of course pillows and extra blankets in case you’re camping during unpredictable weather. Batteries are also integral to have on hand in case the ones in your current equipment die.
Tools and Emergency Kits
Even if you don’t plan on going full Survivorman, having extra tools alongside emergency kits can help you give you the ultimate peace of mind. Plus, in the case of an emergency, you’ll be prepared as necessary.
That being said, tools like pocket knives, multi-tools, duct tape, and saws can make your camping experience much easier. No matter what you need or what you need to make, tools such as those will help you get the job done.
For many, cooking in the wilderness is one of life’s greatest pleasures. To do this properly, you want to make sure you have essentials like fuel, a fire-starter of some kind, frying pan or pot, and utensils like silverware, plates, and cups. With these, you’re ready to cook anything right in the middle of Mother Nature.
Of course, you can always bring your own food and prepare it how you’d like, but having the option of preparing over the fire or a camping stove provides an experience unlike any other.
Having just the basic cooking essentials just makes the process all the more enjoyable. You can find full sets of camping cookware that can be condensed for easy travel and transportation.
Don’t forget the right clothes! The weather at Acadia National Park can sometimes be a bit unpredictable, so always see what kind of weather is expected and bring clothing that adheres to it (and others in case things change).
Camping experts like REI suggest bringing moisture-wicking shirts and underwear for their quick-drying and cooling properties. Bringing light jackets and long sleeves are always good ideas, too; even if the weather isn’t cold, having your body protected from wildlife can be key.
Socks may seem obvious, but they will be your best friend during your camping trips, especially when paired with a nice set of hiking boots.
Toiletries and Hygiene
When camping, you never want to skimp on your health and hygiene. Don’t forget to pack an ample amount of toilet paper, your toothbrush and toothpaste, medications, soaps, and even sunscreen.
Full toiletry bags are available on Amazon and make having everything you need in one simple place.
There are a lot of important extras you’ll want to stock up on before adventuring out to Acadia National Park. Maps, field guides, and star charts will all help you have the fullest understanding of the area around you, really helping you establish a connection.
Binoculars, GPS, and even compasses can be helpful here; whatever makes you feel most prepared, you should bring.
Just be careful to not overpack too much, as this can just make your trip more of a hassle. Bring what you need and what’s necessary, and try to rely on Mother Nature for the rest.
Finding the Perfect Campsite
Schoodic Woods Campground
Located right in the heart of Acadia National Park is the Schoodic Woods Campground. This campground is surrounded by beautiful natural woods and towering pines, only a 15-minute walk from the ocean.
You can choose to take a longer, more scenic walk, as Schoodic offers a six-mile loop full of views of lighthouses, nearby islands, ocean scenery, and wildlife of all sorts.
Here, you can stay in individual or group parks, though you must make a reservation six months in advance. These sites accommodate both tents and RVs and trailers depending on your camping preference.
Seawall Campground is a smaller, family-oriented campground located on Mount Desert island. Surrounded by trees and only a 10-minute walk to the ocean, this campground is a beautifully tranquil place that’s ideal for smaller groups.
You have access to swimming, hiking, kayaking, and canoeing, all at the beautiful Echo Lake which is just a short walk away.
Again, you must make a reservation six months in advance, and this smaller campground is not well-suited for large RVs.
If you’re camping in a tent, Seawall makes for the perfect sight to set up your temporary home. Plus, you get a beautiful view of Cadillac mountain that you won’t get anywhere else.
The Blackwoods Campground is located tucked in the middle of Acadia National Park, great for soaking up the incredible scenery that the park has to offer.
Less than a 10-minute walk from the ocean and 15 minutes from Bar Harbor, everything you’ll want and need to experience from Acadia will be just a short trip away.
Blackwoods Campground is another campground that’s better for smaller groups, as RVs may have a difficult time maneuvering. There are no first-come, first-serve campgrounds, so make sure you make your reservation six months in advance.
Things to Prepare For
No matter where you’re camping, whether it be a national park like Acadia or in the middle of the wilderness, you always want to be prepared for inclement, unpredictable weather. Weather can severely impact your camping adventure, especially if you came ill-prepared for the conditions at hand.
Take the time to cross-reference various weather reports to ensure that the climate is going to adhere to what you can handle.
Then, pack back up clothing that may reflect the weather opposite of what you are going to experience. Even if it says clear, sunny skies, it can’t hurt to bring some long-sleeves, jackets, and a raincoat.
Water-proof, wind-proof anything will be your best friend during inclement weather, whether it is clothing, blankets, or tents. Whatever you purchase to prepare yourself for Acadia, do it with the weather in mind and you’ll be extra prepared.
Typically, during the summer, the weather in Acadia is fairly mild, averaging in the 70s with only about a week of rainfall per month.
During the fall, temperatures drop quite a bit to the 60s and 50s, with lows in the 30s. Wintertime will bring blankets of snow and less visitors, as temperatures hover in the 20s.
As the spring months roll around, temperatures rise just a bit, and campers will also see an influx in rain.
When you’re camping in the wilderness, you’re going to come across wildlife, whether it be big or small. There is no shortage of wildlife in Acadia National Park, so it’s always safe to show up prepared to stay alongside them.
Wildlife like moose or bears do reside in Acadia, though they are not often seen, especially around the campsites.
However, having things like bear spray or ensuring that you keep your food in safe spaces at night is key in guaranteeing that you won’t be visited by anyone you weren’t expecting.
Other wildlife like seabirds, seals, dolphins, and even whales can also be seen in Acadia if you’re lucky.
There are various spots throughout the islands that are known for seeing more wildlife than others, but, as long as you’re keeping your eyes peeled and staying aware, we guarantee you’ll see a few critters you’re not used to.
The Beauties of Acadia You Can’t Miss
If you’re visiting between October 7th and March 6th, Cadillac Mountain will be the first place in the US that sees the sunrise.
As the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard, Cadillac Mountain will give you views you’ll never forget. This must-see destination is accessible by car or foot, and you’ll experience everything from glacial views to sights of islands and miles of ocean.
While the sights at the top are breathtaking, even the journey up the mountain is an adventure in and of itself.
Whether you want to get some exercise or just want to experience some magnificent scenery, Cadillac Mountain is a staple of Acadia National Park that you can’t miss.
If you’re hoping to experience the beauty of the sea, Thunder Hole is the perfect place to go. This inlet is naturally carved into rocks on the shore of Bay Harbor.
When the waves start to roll in, you’ll experience the thunder of them hitting the rocks right in front of you, breaking, and repeating all over again. With the potential of spouting up to 40 ft. into the air, this unique spot is impressive in so many ways.
Along with the thunderous waves, Thunder Hole offers gorgeous views of Otter Cliff, Schoodic Peninsula, and Sand Beach– each one more stunning than the next. Overall, the trip is around three miles, making a perfect mid-day hike for all types of campers.
Hoping for a beach day? There’s no better place to visit than Echo Lake. Echo Lake is a freshwater lake that offers warm waters for tourists of all ages. With a lifeguard on stand-by and waters getting no deeper than 70 ft., you and your whole family can appreciate this beachside wonder.
Echo Lake is nestled between the remarkable cliffs of Beech Mountain. There are various hiking trails that lead you up and through the cliffs, offering stunning views; other, much less difficult, hiking trails are also found throughout the Echo Lake area. Plus, it’s quite an easy drive getting there.
Incredible views of Cadillac Mountain and dark basalt rocks, Schoodic Point truly showcases the beauty of Acadia National Park in each and every direction.
No matter where you’re stationed, you’ll see miles of Mother Nature, waves crashing against the shore, and seabirds galore. Just don’t get too close to the edge of the rocks!
They are often sprayed with water from waves and can be quite slippery– these views are best enjoyed a few feet back.
Schoodic Point tends to be a less busy tourist attraction, only because less people know about it. If you’re looking for somewhere quiet and serene to take in the area around you, you’ve found your perfect destination.
You can choose to either drive here or take a ferry to Schoodic Park. Both ways offer beautiful sights of Acadia that you simply won’t forget.
No matter how you camp, which campground you choose, as long as you appreciate the world beneath your feet and the wildlife surrounding you, camping at Acadia will be one of the best experiences of your life.
This all-natural piece of heaven deserves to be appreciated, and camping here will do that and so much more.
Take the time to ensure that you’re properly prepared with everything you might need. Bring backups of important items, find the perfect campground, and soak in all that Acadia National Park has to offer.
For even more in-depth camping guides, we have you covered.