ACADIA, Maine — Acadia National Park will be conducting a pilot program for Vehicle Reservations at Sand Beach Entrance and Cadillac Summit Road in October.
Park officials said the reservation system should reduce severe traffic and parking congestion so visitors can plan ahead and have a more enjoyable visit to the park.
“The majority of the park is open just as it has always been, including access to all of the carriage roads and all but a few hiking trails,” said Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “If you want to visit the park’s most popular areas during peak times with your vehicle, you now have the opportunity to guarantee access with a reservation. If you walk or bike into a vehicle reservation area, reservations are not required.”
Park officials said Sand Beach Entrance will require vehicle reservations from 7 a.m. 5 p.m. The Cadillac Summit Road will require vehicle reservations from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Reservations can be made at recreation.gov and will provide a timed entry but do not require a departure time. Reservations do not guarantee a specific parking space. If you leave the area with your vehicle, you need another reservation to re-enter. In addition to having a valid entrance pass, reservations must be purchased for $2.00 each online; reservations will not be sold at the park.
Commercial tour operators with a valid Commercial Use Authorization and accredited school groups with an authorized entrance fee waiver do not require a vehicle reservation during the pilot in October. Conducting a pilot of the vehicle reservation system in October will help the park prepare a full season of vehicle reservations in 2021.
Christie Anastasia, with Acadia National Park, says there have been several community meetings about this over the years to try and work out the congestion issue.
Anastasia said, “What it's going to do is make the visit for the visitors much safer, more predictable and folks are going to have a much better time visiting Acadia national Park knowing that they can get their private vehicle into a very popular area and be able to Park it.”
"Providing a positive visitor experience is in the best interest of the business community here in Bar Harbor and around Acadia,” said Alf Anderson, Executive Director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. “Knowing in advance when a family will have a convenient place to park while they watch the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, marvel at Thunder Hole, or play on Sand Beach will make their visit to Acadia National Park more relaxing and enjoyable."
The program will run from October 1 through 18. Anastasia said they are doing the pilot program at the end of the season because they feel it will be a good time to work out any kinks while visitation is low. Next year, in 2021, the program will run for the entire season.