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Acadia National Park

small state map showing location

Bar Harbor, Maine

JPG -- Picture of intertidal area along Maine's coastline If you have never tried--really tried--doing nothing, Acadia is a good place to begin. First you need a rocky ledge or stony beach, perhaps at Schoodic point, along Ocean Drive, or near Seawall. Sit down and relax and wait for things to happen. A gull may sail up over the ledge with a sea urchin in its beak. The gull drops the urchin onto the rocks below to smash its shell-like, spiny armor. The gull dives right behind the creature and then devours it. Besides watching the activity, listen for the chuckle of pebbles moving in the surf and smell the salt air as the sun warms your skin. Doing nothing on the shore is an art, a pleasure, and a long standing tradition.

JPG -- Picture of rocks and surf along Maine's coastline Little of New England's rockbound coast remains in public ownership, undeveloped and natural. Acadia National Park preserves the natural beauty of part of Maine's coast, its coastal mountains, and its offshore islands. Weather permitting, you can drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point here, for a spectacular view of this coast. Or better yet, park your car and walk into the nature and history of the park on its many trails.

JPG -- Picture of a foggy Maine coastline Acadia, as the name suggests, was French before it was English and then American. French frigates head from English men-of-war in Frenchman Bay, screened from detection by the Porcupine Islands. The French and English battles for possession of North America from 1613 until 1760. French explorer Samuel Champlain sailed into the bay in 1604 and named this Mount Desert Island because of its landmark bare top.

The sea encircles the island, thrusts inland, and often generates sea smoke and fog. In the midday sun its bright-blue surface is studded with lobster buoys. In fog all is gray and muted. Somewhere out at sea engines may mutter, but the lobster boat is blurred or lost in a formless world. Seen at sundown from Cadillac Mountain, the sea glows in soft pinks, mauve, and gold. Gulls wing silently home to distant islands, and, like fireflies, navigational aids flash warnings from reefs, islands, and headland. Between the sea and the forested mountains is the small, fascination, almost nether world of the tidal zone. Twice daily exposed to air and drowned by sea water, it is a world of specially adapted organisms. Tidepools, pockets of seawater stranded in rock basins, are microhabitats brimming with life and exposed to view. In these natural aquariums you can watch marine animals going about their business. This zone of life occurs between low and high tides that average 11 to 12 feet. It is the primeval meeting place of earth and water.

JPG -- Picture of a forest land within Acadia Park Behind the sea lie Acadia's forests and mountains, made easy for exploring by an extensive system of carriage roads. These broad, smooth, graveled byways encircle Jordan Pond and Eagle Lake and wind around the flanks of Sargent and Penobscot Mountains. They offer stunning views of Somes Sound and Frenchman Bay; and they lead you along beaver-dammed brooks. The grades are gentle, but the vistas are long.

JPG -- Picture of a fisherman's boat The story of the people who lived on this island when Champlain first saw it is told in the Abbe Museum at Sieur de Monts Spring with Indian artifacts and exhibits. Take the ferry to Little Cranberry Island to see the Islesford Museum, whose ship models, tools, and pictures reveal island life in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Villages near the park present the variety of life-styles on the island today. Northeast Harbor shelters, sailboats, large and small, and a summer colony. Bar Harbor offers many accommodations and amusements. Bass Harbor and Southwest Harbor, and Winter Harbor at Schoodic, retain more of the traditional flavor of Maine coastal villages. Those who earn livings from the sea--whether lobstering, fishing, building boats, or guarding the coast--tie up here. And lobster pounds and boatyards have not yet been replaced by summer homes and hotels.

JPG -- Picture of a wood duck Join a National Park Service ranger to explore Acadia's natural and cultural history. On cruises you may see porpoises, seals, eagles, and nesting colonies of sea birds. Follow a ranger on a mountain hike and learn about the forces that once shaped this landscape--and continue to do so. Explore an offshore island and reflect on the lonely life of a lighthouse keeper's family. These are just some of the ways to discover the diversity of the scenic, natural, and historic wonders that comprise Acadia National Park.

JPG -- Picture of a carriage road that runs through Acadia Park Who built the carriage roads? Who had the vision of a national park on this popular vacation coastland? This national park is unusual because it was neither carved out of public lands nor bought with public funds. It was envisioned and donated through the efforts of private citizens. Many people loved Mount Desert Island, Schoodic Peninsula, and the nearby islands. Maine residents and summer visitors alike donated their time and resources to preserve Acadia's beauty. George B. Dorr and Charles W. Eliot, a former president of Harvard University, saw the danger of development and acted to avoid them. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., also played a critical role. He built the carriage roads and have more than 11,000 acres, about one-third of the park's area, to what became known as Acadia National Park.

Since 1986, the park has purchased small tracks of land and easements to define its permanent boundary and to preserve scenic values. Many landowners today continue in the tradition of the park's founders by placing easements on their property that limit development.

This resource is based on the following source:
National Park Service.  1997.  Acadia National Park official map and guide.  
     National Park Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
National Park Service.  1997.  Acadia National Park official map and guide.  
     National Park Service.  Unpaginated.  Jamestown, ND: Northern 
     Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     (Version 22MAY98).

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