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With its combination of mountains and beaches, rugged coastlines and majestic forests, Acadia National Park has inspired innumerous artists from near and far, and attracts nearly 2.5 million visitors from around the world each year.
Native Americans have inhabited the areas now called Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park for thousands of years. Today, Maine’s four Native American Tribes – known collectively as the Wabanaki, or “People of the Dawnland” – still maintain a close spiritual connection to the land.
Public interest in conserving the unique natural beauty of Mount Desert Island began in the late 19th century, when Bar Harbor thrived as a tourist town. Many wealthy patrons contributed land, funds, and tireless work to preserve the lands they loved. George W. Eliot, a Boston businessman and summer visitor, founded the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations in 1901, for the purpose of “…acquiring, owning and holding lands and other property in Hancock County for free public use.” Pathfinder Waldron Bates (later chairman of Bar Harbor’s Path Committee) published the first map of the island’s hiking trails in 1896. The hiking map used by Acadia visitors today derives from Bates’ original.
In 1916, the area was established as Sieur de Monts National Monument. (Vacationer George B. Dorr had spent years fighting for government preservation, and later became the Monument’s first superintendent.) Acadia was renamed Lafayette National Park in 1919, making it the first national park east of the Mississippi River. Finally, in 1929, it was officially renamed once more to Acadia National Park.
Modern-day Acadia encompasses about 47,748 acres of unique beauty and rich wildlife. The Park offers something to interest everyone, from glorious views at the top of Cadillac Mountain to Thunder Hole on Ocean Drive. Enjoy the exquisite scenery along the 27-mile Park Loop Road, or the rustic stone bridges on 45 miles of beautiful carriage roads. For a taste of Acadia’s living history, visit Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Outdoor enthusiasts can tackle nearly 120 miles of historic hiking, skiing, and bicycle trails, climb the majestic Otter Cliffs, or swim on Sand Beach. And of course, no visit would be complete without a stop at The Nature Center and Wild Gardens at Sieur de Monts Spring.
Whether you’re here on vacation or just for a day, Acadia has endless opportunities to relax and enjoy!