Oops! We accidentally already published the post that was supposed to follow this one. Sorry for the confusion!
Beautiful Acadia National Park, the crown jewel of the North Atlantic coast! Over the years and well before we became RV’ers or started blogging, we would visit this park once or twice per year. During our working years, it was only a 5-1/2 hour drive from our house in MA, so we would often drive to Acadia NP/Bar Harbor area for an extended weekend or even an occasional week long stay, usually in the early June time frame.
In 2015, we spent over a month in the area and wrote extensively about it. Hint: to see those posts, from the main menu, select Fun Stuff : Attractions & Tours : Maine. To see our reviews of the restaurants, select Fun Stuff : Good Eats : Maine.
Back in those days, most of the shops and restaurants didn’t even open for the season until the very end of June so there were hardly any tourists strolling the streets. Not so today! With the 3.3 million tourists who visit Acadia National Park annually, the area is busy from May to October! It’s becomes especially congested when passengers from visiting cruise ships disembark to see the sights.
In fact, it is getting so bad that the National Park Service is developing a transportation plan “to determine how best to provide safe and efficient transportation and a variety of high quality experiences to visitors within Acadia National Park while ensuring the protection of park resources and values.” Similar to other National Parks, will vehicles eventually be banned from driving the 27 mile Park Loop Road? I wonder.
But this year would be a bit different. Lured by the “unspoiled, uncrowded, unexpected” adjectives used by the local Chamber of Commerce to describe this section of Acadia National Park on Schoodic Peninsula and the rave reviews of the new National Park campground there, our destination would be a relaxing week long getaway at Schoodic Woods Campground.
It was another day of overcast skies for our drive of two hours along scenic Route US-1. Locals sure do a great job of making sure that visitors don’t forget that lobster is king in Maine.
In between all the lobster paraphernalia, we would catch glimpses of Penobscot Bay and the surrounding small coastal ship building and commercial fishing communities. Towns such as the historic seaport of Belfast, once home to a shoe factory and sardine cannery, today has transformed itself into a destination, but allegedly something much less kitschy than the typical tourist trap. In 2017 Belfast was named one of the coolest small towns in America. We’ll have to stop there for an extended stay sometime so we can see for ourselves what makes it so cool!
One neat attraction that we didn’t pass by on our last trip to Maine in 2015 was the 42-story Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory and Fort Knox which spans the Penobscot River between Verona Island and Bucksport. From the observatory at the top of one of the bridge suspension towers, there are stunning panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside. Definitely worth a visit! Check out this You Tube drone video of the bridge – it is very cool!
Approaching Ellsworth we would normally turn south onto ME-3 towards Bar Harbor but this year we would continue on US-1 eventually turning onto ME-186. After passing through the small town of Winter Harbor, we finally arrived at the quiet side of Acadia National Park!
Inside the very impressive registration office, we learned from one of the rangers that the 3200 acre tract of land abutting Acadia National Park was once threatened by the development of a resort with a hotel, golf course, sports center and luxury villas. How sad that would have been if that had happened!
In 2011, however, an anonymous buyer came to the rescue, purchasing the land and then constructing the campground along with 8.5 miles of bike paths and 4 miles of hiking trails. This anonymous person even generously donated 1400 acres south of ME-186 to the government so the National Park Service could operate the new campground facilities and manage the land as part of Acadia National Park. The photo below shows the old park (in green) on the left, and the new one on the right. Whoever you are, thank you! thank you! thank you!
The campground not only offers 94 sites (33 of which are RV sites with water and power hook-ups), 50 car/tent sites with power hook-ups, 9 hike-in sites, and 2 group sites with a shared picnic shelter, but also has other visitor facilities including a 100-seat amphitheater and 100-space day use parking area. Reservations can be made on either Reserve America or Recreation.gov. The rate for an RV water/electric site is $40 per night but with a Senior Pass there was a discount given. It wasn’t a full 50% off because part of the rate is considered a “fee” of some sort. Our rate with the senior discount came to $25/night. Rates for other types of sites can be found here. The day use entrance fee is $30 and is valid for 7 days, but this covers access to ALL parts of Acadia NP. The entrance fee is of course waived for Senior Pass holders also.
Big rigs should reserve sites in Loop B as the other loops are for smaller rigs or tents. Note this campground is gaining momentum in terms of popularity so reservations must be booked well in advance. We booked our June stay in December!
If you plan on visiting here be aware that although they have bathrooms, in keeping with other campgrounds in Acadia NP, there are no shower facilities at the campground. However, several of the nearby local businesses offer shower facilities for a fee.
As we pulled into our campsite, all we could say was “WOWSA, what a gorgeous campground!” Our pull thru site (#B21) was almost long enough for two big rigs! And better yet, there was lots of room between us and our neighbors.
None of the sites are on the water but several of the trails lead to the water’s edge along Mt. Desert Narrows.
Beautiful scenery, gorgeous sunsets, good friends and lots of lobster – life is good!
We did a lot during our week long stay, more about that later…..