Reservation System Aims to Improve Visitor Experience
April 11th, 2021
April 11th, 2021
BY LORI SCHAEFER
Having the ability to pre-plan a Cadillac reservation, just as one would plan dinner, a whale watch, or a carriage ride, will provide more certainty and a better experience on the mountain.
Imagine a Cadillac Mountain summit with fewer vehicles, smaller buses and greater respect for nature and fellow visitors. One where visitors can rest assured they will have a place to park and can enjoy a safer and more enjoyable experience on Cadillac’s breathtaking summit. A huge step toward that vision begins this spring as Acadia National Park implements a Cadillac Reservation System— one of the major management actions selected in the Acadia National Park Transportation Plan to reduce traffic and parking congestion in the park.
To help visitors plan and enjoy a better experience, beginning May 26 through October 19, 2021, vehicle reservations will be required for Cadillac Summit Road from sunrise to sunset.
A vehicle reservation for Cadillac Summit Road costs $6 and can be purchased online at Recreation.gov. The fee covers the park’s cost of administering and staffing the reservation system and completing necessary infrastructure improvements.
Visitors can buy both a park entrance pass and Cadillac Summit Road vehicle reservation in advance of their trip. Vehicle reservations do not have time limits. The timed-entry reservation system allows visitors to stay on the mountain as long as they want after entry.
In 2021, improvements will be made at the intersection of Lower Mountain Road and Cadillac Summit Road, including siting two entrance booths, paving gravel areas, adding road markings and curbing, and installing new signage and landscaping. To expedite the necessary work and have the system ready to go by spring, Friends of Acadia contributed funding for planning, design and site engineering at the base of Cadillac.
Acadia National Park is among the most popular and smallest parks in the U.S., with more than 3.5 million visits a year. Visitation grew nearly 60 percent in a decade, and, in 2020 during the COVID pandemic, Acadia was the eighth most visited national park.
Park studies show that about 75 percent of visitors go to the summit of Cadillac at some point during their trip. The summit has parking for only about 150 vehicles, yet as many 350 vehicles have been known to converge there—all but 150 parked illegally.
The summit’s popularity has resulted in trampling of fragile alpine soils and plants, illegal parking and traffic gridlock, crowding at interpretive platforms, unsafe conditions, and degradation of the overall visitor experience. During peak visitation, the summit road can become so crowded that emergency vehicles cannot access the top of the mountain.
Friends of Acadia supports the use of timed-entry vehicle reservations to improve visitor experience on Cadillac Mountain, ensure visitor safety, and protect park resources.
The vast majority of Acadia National Park does not require reservations, so visitors have many options for enjoying mountain summits, trails and historic roads while paying only
the park entrance fee.
Reservations are not required for visitors to Cadillac who enter by foot or bike, or who wish to drive to the Cadillac summit outside of the dates of the reservation system.
LORI SCHAEFER is Friends of Acadia’s Communications Director