Acadia National Park
Rain, Rain Go Away!
Because of a traffic jam in Boston, it was around 10:30 pm when we pulled into our campsite at Blackwoods Campground in Acadia National Park. (Click here to see our itinerary for our summer road trip through New England.) Tired and road weary, we started setting up the tents in the dark trying to be as quiet as possible. When it started to drizzle we really sped up! Rushing around, we got the tents up and we all crashed for the night. For this trip we used two tents- one for Dave and I, and one for the kids. Dave and I used our Big Agnes Lynx Pass 4 Person Backpacking Tent which is my absolute favorite tent ever. No matter what the weather has thrown at us, we have stayed warm and dry in this tent. It is awesome. Prior to this trip, we decided to buy a new tent for the kids. Since we were car camping, weight wasn’t an issue so we decided to splurge for a huge 8 person tent so that they could spread out comfortably. When the kids were little, we had used a Coleman tent that we loved so finding a deal online, we bought a new Coleman Montana 8 Tent. I don’t know if the quality of Coleman tents has drastically declined in the last decade or if we just were unlucky with a defective tent, but this tent leaked horribly and not just from the edges and corners. Water literally poured into the tent all night long as the rain picked up and everything in the tent was soaked. We woke up the next morning to steady rain and soggy kids. Because of this, we spent our first morning in Acadia driving to the nearby town of Ellsworth so that we could eat breakfast, purchase tarps at the local Walmart, and try to stay out of the rain.
We ate a delicious breakfast at Sylvia’s Cafe, a small cafe in town before heading into Walmart where we stocked up on groceries and bought the largest tarp in stock to hang over our tent. The rain storm was still raging and even caused the power to go out while we were shopping. It was bizarre to be inside a dark Walmart! Once we were done here, we headed to the nearby L.L Bean Outlet to wait out the rain. This is a great place to look for deals and the store was crowded with shoppers but we just bought a pair of sunglasses for Dave and a Maine ghost stories book before heading back into Acadia to better weatherproof our site.
Setting up Camp
Back at our campsite, we hung one huge tarp over the big tent and a smaller one over the table as the rain slowed and then stopped. Because of Dave’s tarp hanging skill, we didn’t have any more problems with the rain inside the kids’ tent even though it poured again several times throughout our visit. As you can imagine, this wasn’t an ideal scenario. I knew we should’ve taken our friend’s advice when she said that we should have a look at the best tent for backpacking reviews before making a decision. Instead, we just bought one of the first ones that we came across. And look what good that did us, but we were determined to not let this ruin our trip. Once the tarps were set up, we headed into Bar Harbor to the Bar Harbor Laundry on Main Street to wash and dry the kids’ clothes, sleeping bags and pillows. We were finally good to go explore!
Our first stop was the Visitor Center where we watched the park’s orientation video, picked up Junior Ranger packets for Maya and Garrett and planned out our visit with the help of a friendly park ranger. He recommended several hikes and ranger programs to us, and off we went to explore.
By this time, it was late afternoon, so we spent some time exploring the Blackwoods Campground. We really enjoyed camping here. The sites are wooded and fairly spread out with a fire pit and picnic table at each site. There are bathrooms with running water and electricity and it is only a walk or short drive to coin showers right outside the park entrance. It is an easy walk on a path to the Atlantic where we often hiked and soaked in the incredible views. Make sure to reserve your spot in advance- the campground was full during our entire 4 night stay.
The Sun Comes Out!
When we woke up the next morning, the sun was shining. Yay! After a leisurely breakfast, the twins and I spent the morning around camp while Sophie, Dave and Naomi went on a run around the campground. It was late morning when everyone was ready to explore and we headed over to Beehive Trailhead where we hiked one of our most favorite trails ever. A steep climb, the hike is short, but the views are amazing! Read a full report of the Beehive Trail here. You should take this hike. It is AWESOME!
Once off the trail, we continued driving the scenic loop where we stopped at Thunderhole just in time for high tide. Searching out a secluded viewpoint, we spent a lovely hour or two watching the waves crash on shore from the rocky cliffs while we enjoyed a picnic lunch. The sun was bright and warm- it was a gorgeous day with amazing scenery.
Continuing on the Scenic Loop, we stopped at the Atlantic Shore where we spent the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun, rock hopping, swimming and relaxing. With warm and sunny skies and cold clear water, it really felt like heaven on earth.
Once back at the campground, we ate dinner and cleaned up before heading to the interesting Ranger Talk about wetlands taking place at the Blackwoods Amphitheater. We went to bed as the rain once again started up but we were warm and dry in our tents. Since the trip, I’ve found out about this hammock rain fly: a sort of canopy that you can put up over the top of your tent to doubly make sure you remain dry. I think this might be worth looking into for the next time we go camping.
Hiking Cadillac Moutain
Waking up the next morning, we hiked the 8 mile round trip trail up Cadillac Mountain on the South Ridge Trail. While the day started out dry and beautiful, our hike was interrupted by rain and it ended up being a memorable hike for reasons other than the beautiful views. You can read the full hike report here. After hiking, the weather cleared, and we spent the rest of the day relaxing at the campground.
Other highlights of our stay in Acadia National Park include a visit to Jordan Pond. There is a lovely restaurant here (click here for info) that was bustling but we didn’t have reservations and didn’t want to wait for a table. We did however enjoy a snack of blueberry cake and coffee from the gift shop before we headed out on a nature trail around the pond. It is a beautiful area to visit.
Wading in the Sandbar
We also loved the morning we spent at the Sandbar in Bar Harbor. When the tide is out, the water recedes from the sandbar and it is a blast walking on the sand and wading in the shallow water looking for sea life. We saw a ton of crabs and snails and the kids loved looking under rocks to find them. Dave and I also squeezed in a quick early breakfast date in town at Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast by leaving before the littles woke up and having Sophie look after our camp. We LOVED this place! The service was super friendly and the food was delish. If you go, make sure to try the strawberry rhubarb spread they make in house. Unbelievably good! We even bought a jar to take home.
What to Eat in Maine? A Lobster Feast, of Course!
For our last night in Acadia National Park, we knew we wanted to splurge for lobster, but didn’t want to spend a ton to do so. Luckily we headed into the local grocery store, Hannaford, late in the afternoon and found the perfect solution. For only $5.99 a pound for good size lobsters, we purchased three and had them steam them in the store for us. At no charge, this is a great deal and for only 20 bucks we had a lobster feast. I bought bread, corn, mashed potatoes and blueberry pie to go with it and we dug in. It might be the favorite meal I ate our entire road trip!
Time to Say Goodbye
We loved the time we spent in Acadia National Park! It is absolutely beautiful and full of different areas to explore. I was sad to load up the car the morning we prepared to head out. By the time we packed up and left, it was lunch time so we planned a stop in Ellsworth at the Maine Grind Cafe to eat before heading on to Baxter State Park. Thankfully our meal was so good, my spirits were lifted. If you go, the pizza’s are divine! Dave and I even were able to sneak in a lunch date since they didn’t have a table available for all of us to sit together so we sat at one table, the kids at the other! Two dates in two days? I’m in!
Acadia National Park:
If you go:
–To help with trip planning, we used the National Park Service Website. I also utilized a couple of good books- Lonely Planet New England and Acadia: The Complete Guide: Mount Desert Island & Acadia National Park. Both were helpful.
–Bring rain gear and a reliable tent. While we had periods of gorgeous weather during our visit in July and August, we also had periods of intense rain. From what I understand, this is typical so be prepared to get wet!
–A good hiking resource is Hiking Acadia National Park: A Guide to the Park’s Greatest Hiking Adventures and we used Acadia National Park Discovery Maine: Hiking, Biking, and Paddling from the Appalachian Mountain Club as our map which served our needs well.
–There is no backpacking in Acadia National Park, so camping can only be done in established campgrounds. See the Park Service Website for more info.
–Entrance fees are $20 per car and is good for seven days. We didn’t have to pay this as each year we purchase an America the Beautiful Annual Pass which for $80 allows you to waive the entrance fees at National Park Service sites. If you plan to visit a number of parks in a given year, this is the way to go.
–Plan your visit early if possible. I had no trouble booking campsites about 5 months out from our visit, but as I said before, the entire campground was booked during our stay.