BAR HARBOR, MAINE — The National Park Service has developed a vehicle reservation system to reduce severe traffic and parking congestion so visitors can plan ahead and have a more enjoyable visit to Acadia National Park. As a pilot to prepare for the 2021 season, reservations will be required for vehicles to enter the Sand Beach Entrance and Cadillac Summit Road from October 1 to 18, 2020. Vehicle reservations are available for purchase only online at Recreation.gov.
“The majority of the park is open just as it has always been, including access to all of the carriage roads and all but a few hiking trails,” said Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “If you want to visit the park’s most popular areas during peak times with your vehicle, you now have the opportunity to guarantee access with a reservation. If you walk or bike into a vehicle reservation area, reservations are not required.”
The Sand Beach Entrance will require vehicle reservations from 7 am to 5 pm. The Cadillac Summit Road will require vehicle reservations from 4:30 am to 6:30 pm. All reservations provide a timed entry, but do not require a departure time. Reservations do not guarantee a specific parking space. If you leave the area with your vehicle, you need another reservation to re-enter. In addition to having a valid entrance pass, reservations must be purchased for $2.00 each online; reservations will not be sold at the park. Commercial tour operators with a valid Commercial Use Authorization and accredited school groups with an authorized entrance fee waiver do not require a vehicle reservation during the pilot in October. Conducting a pilot of the vehicle reservation system in October will help the park prepare a full season of vehicle reservations in 2021.
“Providing a positive visitor experience is in the best interest of the business community here in Bar Harbor and around Acadia,” said Alf Anderson, Executive Director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. “Knowing in advance when a family will have a convenient place to park while they watch the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, marvel at Thunder Hole, or play on Sand Beach will make their visit to Acadia National Park more relaxing and enjoyable.”
“Friends of Acadia is very encouraged to see this first step toward a timed reservation system for vehicles to enter the busiest sites in the park during peak times,” said FOA president David MacDonald. “We have heard again and again from visitors about the frustration of being stuck in traffic or turned away when the Cadillac Summit Road or Sand Beach Entrance become gridlocked by over-crowding. Having the ability to pre-plan with a reservation, just as you would with a whale watch or a carriage ride or a dinner out, should provide more certainty and a better experience once in the park. “
Vehicle reservations are one management action of the Acadia National Park Transportation Plan, which is intended to improve visitor safety, reduce traffic and parking congestion, and protect park resources and values. Other components of the plan include enhancing Island Explorer bus service and developing the Acadia Gateway Center transit hub in Trenton and a new visitor center and parking area in Hulls Cove.
For more information visit nps.gov/acad