Hike over 40 miles of easy trails through 11,000 acres of gorgeous, unspoiled prairie with endless skies, colorful wildflowers, wildlife (including bison!), a forested creek, and a one-room schoolh
Awed by its beauty and diversity people are drawn to Acadia National Park every year. It’s home to many plants, animals and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast.
The best time to visit Acadia National Park in terms of pleasant weather is between late spring and fall. However, it's often crowded. A less busy time with great weather is the two weeks after Labor Day in September until mid-September, just before the leaf-peeping crowds arrive.
Read our complete overview for every season below with many useful tips. Tip: If you'd like experience something special in Maine and get away from the crowds, check out these great tours: Lighthouse, Coastal & Sailing Tours in Maine. And one of the best guidebooks out there for Acadia N.P.: Acadia - The Complete Guide (via Amazon)
We also collected the the best tips for short hikes and walks, as well as insider tips on how to avoid the crowds during peak season and fall color tips (direct navigation):
Season Tips for Acadia National Park
May - June | Spring
Both months bring warmer and drier conditions. However, in May the trees aren't green yet and it might be too cold for water activities. Temperatures: Up to 51-75°F / 11-22°C in June. It’s pleasant weather for hiking and other outdoor activities. The downside is, depending on how rainy it has been before, there are biting bugs from mid-May until mid-June. Many facilities are open and May is still a quiet month, except for Memorial Day Weekend (end of May). In June it gets already busier but not as crowded as in July and August.
July - August | Summer
Warm, most pleasant temperatures. Peak season. It gets very busy, even more in August. Booked accommodations, waiting lines, crowded parking lots, congested Park Loop Road and busy view points. To avoid the crowds during peak season, get to the park early in the morning or in the late afternoon around dinner time. More tips on how to avoid the crowds can be found below.
September - October | Autumn - Fall Colors
Early September after Labor Day until mid-September is a nice time to visit the park: The weather is pleasant (49-68°F / 9-20°C), it's not super quiet, but the heavy summer crowds are gone and the 'leaf peeping' crowds haven't arrived yet. It gets very busy again from late September until mid-October as thousands want to see the leaf color explosion in fall. The best time to experience the amazing colors is usually mid-October. Tip: Read our '7 Must-Know Fall Color Tips' below in the main text. Book ahead of time if you need accommodation during the ‘leaf peeping’ weeks. After Columbus Day in mid-October crowds dissipate and rates drop. This is another sweet spot time without the heavy crowds. The last week of October ist often still ok for watching the fall colors, but it also gets cold and rainy.
November | Late Autumn
Even in early November, it's usually too late for spotting the beautiful fall colors. Temperatures drop (33-48°F / 1-9°C ), try to visit until mid-November. It’s colder, but still worth to visit the park without the crowds, almost in solitude. Many facilities are closed though. Definitely, drive the Loop Road which is usually still open in November.
December - March | Winter
It’s off season and very cold. Average temperature in January: 14-32 °F / 0-(-)10 °C . Time for snowmobiling and skiing. Most hotels, restaurants, campsites and attractions are closed. The scenic Park Loop Road is also closed from December until mid-April (weather dependant). More winter activity info: NPS Acadia Winter Activities
April | Early Spring
Many visitors would say that April ist is still not pleasant with melting snow and muddy ground. Average temperatures are between 25-41° F / 1-11° C. However, we'd definitely recommend this month. You might be wondering why? First of all, from mid-April the scenic Park Loop Road usually opens. Second, it's still quiet without any heavy crowds of other tourist. You'll have no issues with parking and can enjoy some places almost in solitude. While there are still signs of winter, the scenery is just breathtaking. Some say the views are even more amazing with no leaves on the trees. Bottom line: We think a visit between mid and late April is a great time!
Photo by Mick Haupt via Unsplash
Regardless of monthly temperatures we described above, you should know that in Maine the weather can change dramatically during the year. However, temperatures along the coast in Acadia N.P. are moderated by the ocean. In the graph below you'll find the average monthly highs. Least rainfall is in June, July and August. But still, keep in mind that the weather is often unpredictable and can change instantly. Be prepared for rain at any time.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
It gets crowded in Acadia National Park in summer and fall. A sweet spot time without the heavy crowds but mostly pleasant temperatures used to be those two weeks in September (after Labor Day until mid-September). However, it's not that quiet anymore during this time, especially in the recent years as visitation increased. Otherwise, there are two different sweet spots weeks with mostly pleasant weather and few visitors: A) The weeks after Columbus Day (mid-October) until early November. B) Early June until mid-June: Although it's already busy at places like Bar Harbor, visitors report that most hiking trails in the park are not crowded.
However, if you plan to visit during the summer and leaf peeping time in fall, we have three great tips to avoid crowds:
1. Be Early or Late:
The majority of people tend to visit Acadia from mid-morning to afternoon. Get up early and try to be at the most visited spots or trailheads before 9:00 AM. Usually, the crowds start to arrive around 10:00 AM. Incredibly popular spots like the summit of Cadillac Mountain can be crowded earlier. Be there at 8:00 A.M. and you'll dodge the heavy crowds at the top. Another advantage to visiting early is the great light for photos and the higher chance of spotting wildlife. Check out this great Ranger Early Bird Video. Alternatively, visit the favorite spots later around dinner time or head out on a short trail just before sunset. Just after 5 P.M. is a perfect time since most are heading back for dinner around that time. However, make sure to be back when there is still daylight. It's too dangerous to hike in the dark.
2. Visit Quieter Areas:
Head to the less traveled places and trails. On the 'quiet side' of Mount Desert Island west of Somes Sound, try out Acadia Mountain Loop or the Beech Cliff Trail (see below in the hiking section). Or you could head to Schoodic Peninsula (Google Maps) on the mainland, or the quietest side of Isle au Haut, accessible only by mail boat.
3. Use the Shuttle:
If you are visiting between late June and Columbus day, use the free Island Explorer Shuttle. It takes away all the worries of full parking lots at trailheads and congested parking areas at popular places like Cadillac Mountain or Bar Harbor. There are bus stops at all well-known places. They even added one for the trailhead of Caddilac North Ridge Trail (see below in the hiking section). Additionaly, you can always ask the bus driver to let you off, even if it’s not an official stop.
The stunning mountains in China’s Zhangjiajie National Park are like gigantic pillars and give an illusion of floating mountains. It was an inspiration for the movie Avatar.
When to go? It depends on what you’re looking for. Every season is different. Read on for the best tips to plan your visit:
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
Expect a busy National Park year-round except for winter (mid-November/December - February). The main season is from May until October with most tourists and highest rates. Heaviest crowds in July/August. A sweet spot month with mild climate but without heavy crowds is early-November until mid-November. Otherwise, March/April are considered months without massive crowds.
Insider Tip: There are several tips to avoid crowds year-round. A very nice and detailed information from a hiking point of view can be found here at TripAdvisor (close the pop-up and scroll down): Itinerary for Hikers to Avoid the Crowds
December - February (Winter): It’s usually cold and chilly. The average temperature is 7°C (45°F). Often snow, and tracks can be frozen, which makes even short walks on the top dangerous. However, it’s possible there are still some good days in the first half of December. During winter months there are virtually no tourist crowds. That means you can enjoy an amazing scenery during days with pleasant weather. In February the park is closed for 1 week.
March - April (Spring): First months with more tourists but still not high season. Mild temperatures: Up to 21°C (70°F) in April, which is a beautiful month and excellent for photography: Flowers are blooming, the forest in is full of vigor, leaves are verdant
May - August (Summer): Peak season. Temperatures climb to an average of 29°C (84°F) in August. The wet season, with most rain in May/June/July. However, some tourists don’t mind the rain: It creates an enchanting atmosphere with mountains surrounded by mist.
September - October (Autumn): Still high season but usually comfortable weather and less rain than in summer months. Temperatures 20-28°C (68-82°F)
November (Winter): Fewer tourists and still comfortable temperatures and even less rain. Beautiful autumn leaves. Some say from early-November until mid-November is one of the best times.
National Holidays: Avoid the national holidays at all cost. Even more crowds and highest rates:
- Chinese Spring Festival (New Year): Late Jan/early Feb
- International Labor Day: May 01 to 03
- National Day: Oct 01-07 (the heaviest crowds of all and highest rates)