BAR HARBOR, Maine — Even in October, beautiful weather draws hundreds of visitors to Acadia National Park. As the leaves turn colors, Mainers and out of state guests converge to Bar Harbor to get a glimpse of the foliage.
But getting a glimpse of the limitless views at the park is actually creating problems. For years, visitors have complained about traffic jams, congestion, and the lack of parking.
Christie Anastasia is the Public Affairs Specialist at Acadia National Park. She said the park has started a Transportation Program to begin to fix some of the issues created when 3.5 million people come to town each year.
“At times, there are more private vehicles that show up than the number of parking areas that we have," Anastasia said. “We have a couple of popular areas, and those areas tend to fill up very quickly.”
Popular areas like the drive up Cadillac Mountain and Sand Beach.
Starting Thursday and running through Oct. 18, to be able to drive and park at those two spots, you'll need a reservation.
All reservations can be made below:
Each reservation costs $2 and can be made days, or minutes ahead of the reservation time. Park officials prefer if you print out your reservation code, but they can scan your iPhone or smartphone as well.
Nate Parkinson is the park's Communication Liasion and added you can book your reservation from anywhere with the internet.
“If you want a sunrise reservation [at Caddiliac Summit], those will be released two days in advance during this pilot," he said. "As long as the availability is there, you really can be spontaneous.”
Parkinson added this new reservation system will give visitors certainty as they plan their trip to Acadia.
“You’re not going to have the frustration of getting here and Sand Beach is completely full and you’re not seeing Thunderhole when you wanted to see Thunderhole," he added.
David MacDonald is the President and CEO of Friends of Acadia, a nonprofit that works with the park. He has already reserved times to visit Cadillac and said it is like reserving a table at a restaurant.
“[The reservations are] encouraging visitors to plan their trip, pre-plan a bit more will help ease everyone showing up at once sort of by accident," MacDonald said.
This system is on a test run. After Oct. 18, tweaks will be made and adjusted to improve the reservation process before next spring and summer.