People have been drawn to the rugged coast of Maine throughout history. Awed by its' beauty and diversity, early 20th-century visionaries donated the land that became Acadia National Park. The park is home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Today visitors come to Acadia to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the scenery.
Acadia National Park encompasses over 47,000 acres of granite-domed mountains, woodlands, lakes and ponds, and ocean shoreline. Such diverse habitats create striking scenery and make the park a haven for wildlife and plants. Entwined with the natural diversity of Acadia is the story of people. Evidence suggests native people first lived here at least 5,000 years ago. Subsequent centuries brought explorers from far lands, settlers of European descent, and, arising directly from the beauty of the landscape, tourism and preservation. Attracted by the paintings and written works of the rusticators, artists who portrayed the beauty of Mount Desert Island in their works, the affluent of the turn of the century flocked to the area.
While the term "geologic formation" often conjures images of the spectacular arches and pinnacles of the western parks, many of Acadia's geologic features are subtle, but equally as impressive. Just as the sedimentary rock of the Grand Canyon was carved by the effects of millions of years of water and wind, ridges of granite were sculpted by glaciers measuring up to 9,000 feet thick, creating the landscape of Acadia that we see today. Evidence of the glaciers can be seen just about everywhere: broad U-shaped valleys hold lakes, glacial erratics dot the landscape, as do glacial erosional scars like chatter marks, striations, glacial polish, potholes, and kettle ponds.
Though they came in search of social and recreational activities, these early conservationists had much to do with preserving the landscape we know today. George B. Dorr, the parks first superintendent, came from this social strata. He devoted 43 years of his life, energy, and family fortune to preserving the Acadia landscape. Thanks to the foresight of Dorr and others like him, Acadia became the first national park established east of the Mississippi. Today the park offers scientific, educational, and recreational activities unparalleled along the east coast. Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain to enjoy a spectacular sunrise over Frenchmans Bay or explore some of the quieter, more secluded mountain paths. Bike over 40 miles of the tree-lined carriage roads that wind over hillsides and near glassy lakes. Join a ranger to experience Acadias resources first-hand. Or just admire the views and let yourself unwind, knowing you are taking part in a long-standing tradition.
The ocean thundering against the rocky shore, the tang of salt on the sea breeze, the clang of bell buoys off shore, and gulls circling above the waves... For many who visit here, this shoreline scene is the quintessential image of Acadia National Park. The shoreline is a work in progress, constantly being shaped and reshaped by waves and wind and storms. Slowly the ocean works away at the hard edges of the island, carving sea stacks and leaving pockets of beaches filled with surf-rounded cobblestones. Amid all the cracks and crags and bold cliffs of the Acadian shoreline, nestles one sandy beach.
Peregrines nested on Mount Desert Island at least as long ago as 1936. The last known nesting pair was reported in 1956. From 1984 until 1986, 22 peregrine chicks were successfully hatched in Acadia National Park from a high cliff face overlooking Jordan Pond. Adult peregrines often return to areas near their original hack sites, which was the case at Acadia. When an adult peregrine returned to the site in 1987, the park discontinued the hacking program for fear that this adult would prey upon any released chicks.