Things to do in Acadia National Park include biking, hiking, and kayaking. My daughter would definitely put rock climbing on her list, and I think you have to eat at a nearby lobster pound. But one of the top-ranking activities among a very broad group of travelers is a carriage tour.
Why? Perhaps it’s because that’s the way the carriage roads of Acadia National Park were meant to be experienced. These unique gravel byways were constructed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. as a means to get deep into Mount Desert Island and to keep cars out. Mr. Rockefeller, himself a skilled horseman, drove a carriage along these scenic roads that encircle mountains, pass over stone-faced bridges, and skirt meadows.
Today some 20,000 visitors travel the same historic roads on tours offered by Wildwood Stables.
This year tours will start June 6 and run to October 18. They feature the horse-drawn “Acadia Sociable” wagonette which holds 12 to 16 people. There are four different tours, available for one- or two-hour drives throughout the day. Although they all book quickly, the most popular are the morning drive on Pemetic Mountain to “Cobblestone Bridge” and the sunset trip to Day Mountain. Wildwood’s new manager, Mike Carpenter, is considering additional routes for 2009, including one that’s a circuit from Jordan Pond House, the scenic spot for lemonade and popovers.
The “five-star” popularity of the carriage tours seems to result as much from the charm of the carriage drivers as the scenery. Visitors rave about the information, history, and humorous anecdotes. Scan TripAdvisor and you’ll see “I hated it to end” and “I would definitely do it again.”
One reason to book again, even if you’ve enjoyed a carriage drive before, will be the new emphasis on the horses themselves. Wildwood’s new manager hopes to have at least one representative of the six or seven major breeds of draft horses at the stable. Having grown up with horses on a farm, he believes that giving visitors more interaction with the animal power – even letting them touch the horses – will enhance the experience of a visit to Wildwood.
And if you’re planning a romantic vacation on Mount Desert Island, consider a special charter in a surrey or vis-a-vis “wedding carriage” like the ones in Central Park. According to Mr. Carpenter, that’s one thing both newlyweds and couples celebrating anniversaries put on their lists of things to do in Acadia National Park.
Want to include a carriage drive on your trip to Acadia National Park? Visit Carriages of Acadia to find out more. Reservations can be made by calling 1-877-276-3622.
Visit OUR ACADIA for tips on rentals, restaurants, and the best times to visit Acadia National Park. It includes things to do with kids and options for rainy days.