For the last several years my wife, Cheryl, our Golden Retriever, Powell, and I have been fortunate enough to spend a couple of great weeks in Acadia National Park in Maine. Our National Park system is probably one of President Theodore Roosevelt’s greatest accomplishments. The impact he had on the national park system went beyond his two terms in office – all in all, he had directly contributed to the creation of five national parks, four big game refuges, fifty-one national bird reservations, and the National Forest Service. Roosevelt and before him, John Muir, advocated for the sustainable use of the nation’s natural resources and the protection of our natural resources at a time when they were under severe pressure from industrialists.
Acadia is a patchwork of nearly 50,000 acres pieced together since 1919 from private landowners. It’s classic Maine – low-bush blueberries, rocky coast line, lobster at $3.99/lb. and the first place on the East Coast to see the sunrise. The park got a huge boost in 1933 thanks to the work of thousands of young men working as part of the Civilian Conservation Corp. We walk and hike on the legacy of their hard work as they created miles of roads, hiking trails, several camp grounds and the famous carriage roads.
We typically visit Acadia in October when the weather is generally still good (although we can have a couple of 45-degree mornings), the leaves are just beginning to turn and the crowds are all but vanished. At this time of year, the park is just starting to receive cruise ship passengers docking in Bar Harbor, however these folks generally don’t hike or leave the bus excursions. I suspect the park can get busy in the summer given its proximity to Boston and other East Coast cities. One of the park’s major features is its 27-mile Park Loop Road taking drivers to every scenic overlook and trail head – a great drive in the fall but, I bet, a gridlock in July.
We’re obviously fans and have already signed up for another two weeks next year. It’s an 8-hour drive from Stamford but worth every mile. If you have never visited one of our national parks, put Acadia on your list. It may not rival Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon but, I believe, it has its rightful spot on the list of places every American should visit.