Another in a series of “Ask Acadia on My Mind!” Q&As
If you have a question about Acadia National Park on your mind, whether you’re a first-time visitor or long-time fan, leave a comment below, or contact us through the About page. We may not be able to answer every question, or respond right away, but we’ll do our best. See our page linking in one place all the Q&As.
1) Appreciate your time to help us out. We will be first timers to Acadia. We’re going the end of July for 4 days and have made tent reservations at Blackwoods Campground. It will be just my wife and I. We are 50 and in pretty good health for hiking/biking. We usually camp in a pop up but are tenting to save on travel and cost and for the convenience of not trailering. A few questions:
– Does it get cold for tent camping in July?
– We like to bike – is biking a good option to get around and see the sites?
– Is swimming an option nearby to Blackwoods?
– Can you recommend a good place to have lobster?
– Given we’re only there 4 nights, what would be the top 3 destinations we should hike or ride to?
Thanks so much for your help. – Steve and Janet
2) Hi, we were just wondering if it is possible to stay on a non-electric RV site in a tent only? Thanks! – Anna
3) We (family of 5) are thinking about visiting Acadia next week before the Island Explorer shuttle is running, but we are traveling in an RV. How difficult is it to maneuver through the park in an RV, or is there a place to park it and ride bikes in order to see the park? Can you bike to Bar Harbor easily? – Jaymi
Dear Steve and Janet, Anna, and Jaymi,
Of your 3 camping in Acadia National Park questions, we have to say Anna’s is the most unusual. Why would you want to tent out on a non-electric RV site? The only reason we could think of: Is it because all the tent-only sites for the dates you’re looking for are booked?
In any event, Anna, we called Blackwoods Campground, where there are 61 non-electric RV sites, to ask that very question. As long as you set up the tent on the RV pad, you can, indeed, stay on a non-electric RV site, according to the park ranger. Policies may vary by campground, so you might want to check the campground you’re planning on staying at.
But as you may know, you cannot make tenting or RV reservations by calling the park campgrounds directly. For that, you must go to www.recreation.gov, or call the National Recreation Reservation Service at (877) 444-6777. You can also find out more details about camping in Acadia National Park through the park’s Web site.
Plenty of things to see and do when camping in Acadia National Park
Steve and Janet, July is normally the warmest month in Acadia, with highs in the high 70s and lows in the high 50s. It shouldn’t be too cold to camp out in a tent then, but it never hurts to have fleece jackets or sweaters, and rain gear. Weather can change quickly in Acadia, and it can get chilly on the water if you take a boat trip. Bring insect repellent and sunscreen too.
You may find these previous Ask Acadia on My Mind! Q&As helpful as you plan your trip, about biking from Blackwoods to the carriage roads, and hiking out your tent to the top of Cadillac or Gorham Mountains.
Acadia is well known for its carriage roads for bicycling. Although it’s possible to bike the Park Loop Road and even up the Cadillac Mountain Road, July is one of the busiest months and there may be too much car and bus traffic to make it a safe or pleasant ride.
The 2 swimming options in Acadia are Sand Beach (cold!) and Echo Lake. If you plan on driving, you would want to get an early start because the lots fill early. The better option is to take the fare-free Island Explorer bus (but be sure to pay for your park pass), which runs from June 23 through Columbus Day.
The Island Explorer Sand Beach line stops at Blackwoods, but it takes almost an hour to go from the campground to the beach since the bus heads to the Bar Harbor Village Green first. The return trip from Sand Beach to Blackwoods takes about 25 minutes.
If you’re really ambitious, you can actually hike from Blackwoods to Sand Beach, via Quarry and Otter Cove Trails and Ocean Path, a 1-way distance of about 2.5 miles on relatively easy terrain. On the return, you can take the Island Explorer Sand Beach line back to Blackwoods. There is no snack bar at Sand Beach, so you would need to carry provisions with you. Ocean Path can be crowded with pedestrians, so an early or late start is preferred.
To get to Echo Lake by Island Explorer, it’s also about an hour ride from Blackwoods, assuming you are able to connect with the Southwest Harbor line at the Bar Harbor Village Green without a wait. The 2 bus lines don’t seem to be well-synched for people making the trip from Blackwoods to Echo Lake, however, with the Southwest Harbor bus scheduled to leave the Village Green a few minutes before the bus from Blackwoods is scheduled to arrive. Guess you can always do a little shopping in Bar Harbor while you wait for the next Southwest Harbor bus.
We’re not restaurant critics, Steve and Janet, but among the places where we’ve had enjoyable lobster meals: Galyn’s in Bar Harbor, Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard, and Stewman’s Lobster Pound on West Street in Bar Harbor (where President Obama and his family dined in July 2010). (NOTE: We’re affiliated partners with TripAdvisor(R), and any reservations you may make through linking to reviews is the same price as if you went directly to their site. A small affiliate partner fee helps cover the cost of this blog.)
Finally, Steve and Janet, see these other blog posts we’ve done for top things to see and do, and other useful links to plan your trip:
- Top 5 things to see and do for long-time visitors to Acadia
- Top 5 things to see and do for first-time visitors to Acadia National Park
- 5 tips to beat the crowds while visiting Acadia National Park
- Year of celebrating joyously with Acadia Centennial events
- Acadia National Park plan-your-visit-page
- Acadia Centennial events calendar
Ways to get around Acadia if you’re RVing
Jaymi, Acadia has rules and regulations governing oversized vehicles, including RVs. For example, RVs aren’t allowed on the Cadillac Mountain Road, and vehicles larger than a 15-passenger van are not allowed at the Sand Beach parking lot and in other spots. Height restrictions also apply on parts of the Park Loop Road, Stanley Brook Road and Fish House Road.
If you’re not staying at one of the campgrounds, Bar Harbor does allow you to park an RV for up to 72 hours on ME 3 just south of downtown, along the athletic fields. From there, it’s easy to walk or bike to downtown Bar Harbor, or to the park.
If you’re looking to bike the carriage roads, you can bike from downtown Bar Harbor via the West Street Extension and Duck Brook Road to the carriage roads that start at Duck Brook Bridge.
The parking lot for the Eagle Lake carriage roads entrance on ME 233 may not have oversized vehicle restrictions listed on the park Web site, but that lot isn’t that easy to maneuver in and can fill up early. And it’s not easily biked to from the athletic fields.
You can connect with the carriage roads from the Hulls Cove Visitor Center parking lot, which is large enough for RV parking.
You can also bike the Park Loop Road, which can be accessed off ME 3 south of the athletic fields, at the Sieur de Monts park entrance. You would need to obey the 1-way direction of the road as it goes from Sieur de Monts down to Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Otter Point and beyond.
If you’d rather not take the 1-way road all the way until it becomes 2-way near Jordan Pond, you can bail out and head back to Bar Harbor via Otter Cliff Road, reached off the Fabbri picnic area on the Park Loop Road, and then north on ME 3.
If you like the idea of walking into the park, from the athletic fields, a short stroll down ME 3 takes you to Compass Harbor and the start of Schooner Head Path, which leads more than 2.5 miles to Schooner Head Overlook, and then another mile or so to either Sand Beach or Great Head.
Or you can walk to Sieur de Monts and its Wild Gardens of Acadia and Nature Center via Great Meadow Loop, a village connector trail that you can access by heading west from the athletic fields on Park Street and south on Ledgelawn Avenue and Great Meadow Drive.
For more hiking ideas, you can check out the 3rd edition of our “Hiking Acadia National Park” guide, which just came out in April. It’s available in Bar Harbor at Sherman’s, as well as at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and elsewhere locally. Or you can order it from Amazon.com, or buy an official Acadia Centennial-licensed, autographed copy directly from us to help raise funds for the park. (NOTE: We’re affiliated partners with Amazon.com, and any purchases you may make through linking to the book is the same price as if you went directly to their site. A small affiliate partner fee helps cover the cost of this blog.)
And if you’re staying at Blackwoods, see the above links to blog posts about biking or hiking right from the campground, in answer to Steve and Janet’s questions.
So yes, Jaymi, it’s possible to see the sites of Acadia on a bike or on foot, even before the Island Explorer bus starts up on June 23.