As many people visit Acadia National Park in September and October as in May and June, according to National Park data. I’ve biked and kayaked in the park in the fall. I hosted a memorable Thanksgiving in Mount Desert in 2006. I’ve even dipped into Somes Sound for seawater for boiling lobsters during a visit in January.
Want the pro’s and con’s month by month? Click here.
But now let me tell you the wondrous reason to visit Acadia National Park in May: it lets you turn back the clock.
Being here in Maine always lets you turn back the clock. The pace is more “normal.” People seem less willing to sell their souls for the almighty buck, as my dad would say. They even close the stores at 5pm on Sundays during a holiday weekend.
But the real reason for anyone from New York or Boston or Philadelphia to visit Acadia National Park in May is that you get to experience the early spring we luxuriated in four or five weeks ago…again. The lilac. The apple blossoms. Maybe even a glimpse of forsythia. Leaves are still in that about-to-spring moment. The mountains are deep spruce mixed with that giddy lime-yellow green that only means spring. And there are flowers, like the rhodora, we never saw during New York City’s spring. Come to Acadia National Park in May and enjoy spring twice in the same year.
You’ll find many areas of the park blissfully quiet if you stay the week after Memorial Day. Organize your hikes to avoid the crowds. We made the mistake of doing Gorham Mountain on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and were punished with having to listen to the conversations of other hikers. So, on Monday we took off to the “quiet side” of the island and hiked the Western Ledge Trail up Bernard Mountain and found a heavenly waterfall and pool when we came down Sluiceway. (We heard something louder and steadier than the wind in the trees off to the east. We went off trail and made this delightful discovery.) When visitors returned to work on Tuesday, we hiked the Gorge Trail up to Dorr, crossed east to Cadillac, and came down the Cadillac North Ridge Trail to where we had left our bikes, which we then rode back to the car parked at the Gorge trailhead. We saw a porcupine at the top of Cadillac, which never would have been “out” in July or August. We’d never climb Cadillac then either.
I remember businesses in the Hamptons being pretty ramped up for Memorial Day. Not so in Acadia National Park. “Pre-season” here means that most of the antique shops in Bernard were closed the short week after Labor Day. Only two restaurants in Southwest Harbor were open on Monday night. Twice during the week restaurants we were eager to go to were closed for private parties. So, if you want to come in May or June to take advantage of Acadia’s quiet time, I recommend renting a house so that you can cook at home a couple of nights and then plan your nights-out closer to the weekend, when they are more likely to be open. And the best news is: Thurston’s Lobster Pound is open!
Want to avoid the crowds on a big holiday weekend in Acadia National Park? Here are 7 tips to help ensure your serenity.
Thinking about a particular month for a visit to Acadia? Click here for an assessment, including temperature ranges and tips from locals.