Ranger's Secrets: Acadia National Park

With the tallest mountains on the Atlantic Coast, rugged beaches and a series of historic carriage roads perfect for biking, Acadia has become one of the United States' most popular national parks. With 2 million visitors per year, it's hard to imagine there are many quiet corners left to discover. But, with the help of Acadia's Lead Education Ranger, Michael Marion, we've put together a few to-do's that will help you avoid the crowds and soak in the beauty of the Downeast Maine.

Storm Watching on the Schoodic Peninsula
The busiest time for Acadia is in the summer, but the late fall offers some of the most spectacular conditions, including vibrant foliage and a series of huge storms that roll in over the Atlantic. During this time, strong winds whip up huge waves that break over the rocky shore. It's an incredible spectacle that's popular with the locals, but make sure to keep a safe distance, Marion warned.

"We don't have fences and guardrails because we want to preserve the natural scenery, so you have to be extremely careful," he said. People have died from getting too close to the edge and being washed into the sea. Marion suggests heading out just after the storm, when you can still see the surf, but conditions are safer.

Take in the views from Sargent Mountain
As the highest point in the park, Cadillac Mountain has become a popular climb. However, those who put in the hard work can be a bit disappointed when they reach the top.

"There's a road, so you can spend a day hiking and then find RVs and busses at the top," Marion said. To avoid all the vehicles, he suggests Sargent Mountain.

"It would be a more remote trip and has similar and wonderful views," Marion said.  

Hike and Camp on Isle au Haut
One of the most remote areas of Acadia is Isle au Haut. Located five miles south of Stonington, Maine, about half the island is a part of the national park (the rest belongs to the local community). To access the area and its 18 miles of trails, you take a 45-minute ferry from Stonington. While you can make this a long day trip, you can also stay overnight for a more relaxed experience. If you plan to camp, make sure to make reservations in advance. In the busy season, your stay can be up to three days, while in the off season, you can stay up to five.

For more information, visit the Acadia National Park website.