We’re chock-full of gratitude for the people who make Acadia so exceptional all year long

This Thanksgiving, as many fill up on stuffing and green bean casserole, here at Friends of Acadia we’ll also be full of gratitude.

We’re always thankful for the park itself – for Acadia’s stunning sunrises and glacier-carved granite, for Peregrin falcons and garden spiders, for crashing waves, clinging lichen, and the shade of a forest canopy.

But what we’re exceedingly grateful for are the PEOPLE who make this place so exceptional: the park staff who welcome and look out for us, the stewards who help us be kinder to our public lands, the dedicated volunteers who build and rake and clean up, the rock star visitors who explore Acadia mindfully, and all our Friends of Acadia donors and members who support the work to keep Acadia as vibrant as it is.

Here’s a heaping dose of thanks to all of you:


Scout Cutler, Acadia National Park recreation fee technician, scans a visitor reservation at the base of the Cadillac Summit Road. (Photo by Ashley L. Conti/Friends of Acadia)

We’re Thankful for Welcoming and Safe Explorations in the Park

Park staff – particularly park guides, law enforcement rangers, and fee technicians – are often the first people we encounter when we visit Acadia National Park, which means they encounter a LOT of people every day, all season long. Island Explorer bus drivers shuttle us to and fro between park destinations and popular spots on and around Mount Desert Island. It’s no easy feat navigating so many visitors, but they do it with professionalism and panache. They answer questions, guide us in the right direction, and get us where we want to go, making them essential to our marvelous park experiences. They also work hard to keep us safe and keep people and traffic moving (so we can see and explore all the things)!


Acadia National Park Physical Science Technicians Brenda Pizer (left) and Jake Van Gorder conduct water quality tests at the Jordan Pond buoy. (Photo by Sam Mallon/Friends of Acadia)

We’re Thankful for the Forward Thinkers Working Toward Acadia’s Future

Whether it’s gathering data from a water-quality-monitoring buoy in Jordan Pond, experimenting with revegetation plots on the summit of Cadillac Mountain, collecting visitation and usage pattern data, or tracking and managing invasive species, there’s a cadre of wise minds doing vital work in Acadia. Their research helps inform forward-thinking decisions in the park – from ecosystem resiliency to traffic flow – and these efforts are increasingly important in the face of rising visitation and a changing climate. We’re grateful for the detail-oriented dedication that not only serves Acadia, but adds to the knowledge base for managers of public lands around the country.


Volunteers clean up trash during the Friends of Acadia Earth Day Roadside Cleanup. (Photo by Ashley L. Conti/Friends of Acadia

We’re Thankful for the Many Hands of Acadia’s Volunteers

Some come to Acadia for a spring roadside cleanup or to rake leaves in the fall with a volunteer group. Others drop-in for mornings of trail maintenance with the Drop-In Stewardship Program or to staff the Friends of Acadia membership table at the Jordan Pond House. Volunteers expertly groom the carriage roads for cross-country skiing each winter, and they tend the multitude of shrubs and blooms at the Wild Gardens of Acadia. Whether they come for a few hours or dedicate themselves season upon season, every volunteer has a positive impact on Acadia. They give of their time because they love this park – and their efforts make Acadia better for everyone.

(Mark your calendars for these two volunteer events in 2023: Earth Day Roadside Cleanup on April 29 and Take Pride in Acadia Day November 4.)


Visitors take a selfie in front of Jordan Pond and the Bubbles. (Photo by Lily LaRegina/Friends of Acadia)

We’re Thankful for Rock Star Park Visitors

Acadia is a popular park (it might be small by comparison to the likes of Gates of the Arctic, Death Valley, or Yellowstone, but it saw 4.07 million estimated visits in 2021, and 2022 numbers so far look similar). With so many visitors in a relatively small area, managing people’s impact on the park matters a great deal. So we’re grateful for rock star park visitors who plan ahead (like making a reservation to drive up to the summit of Cadillac), who take photos and leave the rocks and flowers as they found them, who keep their dogs leashed (and pick up after them), who leave their cars and ride the Island Explorer, and who carry in and carry out their snacks and snack wrappers (and by “wrappers” we include clementine peels and pistachio shells).

(Be a rock star park visitors with these Top 10 Things to Know Before Visiting Acadia)


Acadia National Park Education Ranger Mackette Kark leads a nature walk with sixth graders attending the Schoodic Education Adventure (SEA) program. (Photo by Lily LaRegina/Friends of Acadia)

We’re Thankful for the People Who Teach Us

Learning about Acadia helps us love it better. From the history of this land to the present-day impacts of weather and foot traffic, we’re grateful for the interpretive rangers, researchers, and stewards who teach us. From them, we learn about critical ecosystems, the importance of Bates cairns, and the stories of the people who lived and fished and raised families here long before we called this place “Acadia.” We learn about wildlife and tide pools and coastal spruce forests. We learn how our presence influences this place we love. This knowledge makes us wiser, and it makes us better stewards.


We’re Thankful for Sweat and Determination

Randy Ewins, Friends of Acadia Volunteer Crew Leader, lays top planks over wooden crib foundations. (Photo by Lily LaRegina/Friends of Acadia)

Trail building and maintenance is laborious work. It requires moving around heavy rocks and timber, hauling away worn-out bog walk, shoveling gravel, and digging ditches. It’s sweat-inducing and exhausting. And it’s at the heart of why Acadia’s trails and carriage roads are so remarkable and historic. We’re grateful for the Acadia National Park Trails Crew who builds and maintains the trails, and for the Acadia Youth Conservation Corps, Stewardship Crew, and countless volunteers and others who lift, carry, haul, stack, hammer, and cut – and no doubt sweat a lot in the process.


We’re Thankful for Our Community of Members, Donors, and Supporters

Pat Sandefur runs with Brian Henkel, Friends of Acadia Wild Acadia Project Coordinator, during Pat’s 50k Wild Acadia fundraising run through the park. (Photo by Ashley L. Conti/Friends of Acadia)

Our gratitude spills over for those who support Friends of Acadia. Whether you give of your time or your dollars, your love for Acadia and its future makes our work possible. This community is full of passionate lovers of nature, of public lands, of the Maine outdoors, and of Mount Desert Island. Thank you for caring so much and for trusting us to help advance the legacy of Acadia – and doing so with such tenacity, good humor, and friendship.

If you’re not a member or donor yet, considering giving this year – we’d love to have you! (And keep your eyes peeled on Giving Tuesday, Nov 29, for the opportunity to double your donation for Acadia during our Giving Tuesday E-Challenge!)


Double Your Donation on Giving Tuesday

Every donation received on Giving Tuesday will be matched dollar for dollar! We hope you'll consider Friends of Acadia on Nov. 29 and share your #loveforacadia!