The best time to visit Acadia National Park depends on what you’re looking for. Want perfect summer temperatures and lots of things to do? July and August can’t be beat. Want to avoid the crowds? September offers great temperatures with far fewer visitors in Bar Harbor and other Mount Desert Island towns. Looking for beautiful fall foliage? Head to Acadia in early October when the leaves are nearing their peak. And although winter and spring are often overlooked, both offer great activities if you know where to look.
Spring in Acadia National Park
Spring (aka Mud Season) definitely has its pros and cons. Melting ice and snow keep things soggy in April and May, but by late spring the island has often dried out and temperatures can be divine. Spring is also bug season. Biting bugs are most active between mid-May and mid-June when running water provides optimum breeding conditions. But bug numbers depend considerably on how rainy it has been. Spring is also when local businesses come out of their long winter hibernation. Hotels and shops start opening in late April, and by Memorial Day most of the island is open for business. But the peak tourist season doesn’t officially kick into high gear until the Fourth of July, at which point everything is open for business.
Summer in Acadia National Park
Sunny summer days bring perfect temperatures to Acadia National Park: high 70s with a cool ocean breeze. But summer can also bring thick fog that blankets the island for hours, or sometimes days. Sunny or not, July is when things get busy on Mount Desert Island—booked hotels, waiting lists at restaurants, crowded parking lots. (This is all relative, of course. By Maine standards it’s crazy, but New Yorkers will probably appreciate the peace and quiet.) August is even busier than July, with families trying to cram in one last vacation before school starts, and Mainers trying to enjoy one last blast of summer heat before fall. Then, just when things seem like they can’t get any crazier, Labor Day hits and peak season ends with a bang.
Fall in Acadia National Park
Fall is one of the best times to visit Acadia National Park. The weather is crisp, the crowds are light, and the foliage is spectacular. Weather in early September is generally divine, but temperatures start dropping by the end of the month. Fall is also the busiest season for cruise ships, which dock in Bar Harbor and disgorge thousands of passengers onto the town’s narrow streets. Still, there’s always a dramatic lull in visitation in mid-September between peak summer season and “leaf peeping” season. Fall foliage generally peaks between October 13–22, but the dates vary from year to year. (Check out www.mainefoliage.com for current conditions.) By late October, temperatures start dropping, tourists start departing en masse, and locals start hunkering down. By early November, many storefront windows in Bar Harbor are covered in plywood, and the island goes into hibernation for the winter.
Winter in Acadia National Park
Winter is a cold, desolate season in Acadia National Park. New England has some of the longest and most ferocious winters in the United States, and though the ocean warms things up a bit on the coast, that’s not saying much. The average snowfall on Mount Desert Island is 61 inches, but the snow that falls often melts quickly, so it’s of little use for winter sports. When the snow does stick, Acadia National Park’s carriage roads are great for cross country skiing, and the Park Loop Road is great for snowmobiling. But most hotels, restaurants, museums, and other attractions are closed for the season. There are, however, a few hardy restaurants and hotels that stay open in December, January and February.
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