Best Driving Roads: Park Loop Road – Acadia National Park

park-loop-road-acadia-parkPark Loop Road on Mount Desert Island, Maine is one of America’s most scenic and best driving roads.  The 20 mile road is located in Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island near Bar Harbor, Maine. And while this road is not one to speed on, or go for sporty driving it will bring great pleasure in a slow cruise with the windows open or even the top down on a fine convertible.   Since the loop was recently paved when we visited, dropping the windows and slowly driving allowed us to hear how serene and calming the park environment is; basically all one hears is nature.

The loop weaves its way along the circumference of the park passing by the rocky granite shores on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. With two lanes and no shoulder, traffic on most of the loop runs in one direction (clockwise) so as to keep traffic flowing properly and safely during the busy summer months. Multiple entrance points to Park Loop include Hulls Cove at the Northern end, Stanley Brook on the Southern end and Cadillac Mountain near the middle of the loop. We entered at Hulls Cove and took advantage of the visitor center, which includes a theater where one can view an entire video about the history and natural features of Acadia National Park. Stopping into the Hulls Cove Visitor’s Center is well worth the time. Famous attractions along the loop include Thunder Hole, Sand Beach and Cadillac Mountain, among others and the video will allow you to preview these prior to visiting.

Proceeding in a southerly direction from Hulls Cove entrance and toward the Wild Gardens of Acadia you’ll pass Thunder Hole along the coast. At Thunder Hole, the Atlantic Ocean waves have created tidal gullies carved into towering granite rock cliffs. At high tide ocean water rushes into the gullies with huge force creating pressurized air pockets below the water surface. The water then billows upward into a large spout through the holes. This ocean water and rock interaction resembles a geyser of sorts.

thunder-hole-acadia Thunder Hole sand-beach-acadia-park Sand Beach cadillac-moutain-acadia-bar-harbor Cadillac Mountain

Further south of Thunder Hole is the aptly named Sand Beach, the only naturally occurring sand beach in the park’s boundaries; all others are rocky coastline. Sand beach has a gentle horseshoe shape, nearly 1/4th mile long, that hugs a cove of the Atlantic ocean with large rocky cliffs on either side making for one of the most scenic beach landscapes in the world.

Further on toward the northwestern side of the loop is a road spur that takes you up the rise to Cadillac Mountain.  The mountain rises above Acadia National park to a towering 1,270 feet and is the first place on the United States’ eastern seaboard where the sun can be spotted rising above the Atlantic horizon. From atop the mountain you can garner the most awe-inspiring panoramic views of the rocky Maine coastline as well as the entire Acadia National Park. The twisty two-way road from top to bottom of the mountain is one of the most fun driving experiences you’ll encounter in a national park.

A great way to travel Park Loop Road is by convertible or bicycle. And the best recommendation is to visit Acadia National Park in the “shoulder season” before Memorial Day weekend or after Labor Day weekend. It’s optimal to visit during these shoulder seasons to avoid large tourists crunches and traffic on the road, and in town where staying in Bar Harbor is a great way to enjoy all this scenic area has to offer; including local lobster and other delicious local seafood fare! If there is one road to drive in the great State of Maine, it’s Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park! Enjoy the video.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.