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Acadia National Park Fall Guide 2024

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Looking for all the best things to do in Acadia In Fall? We’ve got you covered with our Acadia National Park Fall Guide. 

Fall is a time of enchantment in Acadia National Park, Maine in the United States. As the vibrant hues of summer transition into a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows, the park becomes a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventurers on the east coast. 

With its diverse landscapes, breathtaking vistas, and an array of all ages activities, Acadia on Mount Desert Island offers an unforgettable autumn experience. 

The east coast is one of our favorite places to visit, especially in Fall. I lived on the east coast for 10 years in Canada, and fall foliage road trips were always my favorite time to travel.

In this comprehensive Acadia Fall Guide, we will delve into when to go, all the best things to do, where to stay, weather conditions, the delectable dining options that await you in this natural wonderland. Plus answer FAQs for Acadia National Park in Fall.

Why Fall is the Perfect Time to Visit Acadia National Park

Fall is the best time to visit Acadia in our opinion. 

The fall foliage season brings a unique charm to Acadia National Park that captivates visitors from around the world. 

The crisp air, milder temperatures, and the symphony of colors painting the forests make it an ideal season to explore the park. Whether you want to see the colors from a unique perspective of a Schooner Boat Tour, a hike, or guided fall foliage bus tour, it really is beautiful. 

The summer crowds have dissipated from the peak season,  allowing for a more intimate and immersive experience with nature. Especially between labor day and mid September, when there are fewer crowds.

However it can be busy with fall foliage seekers from late September onward, as it’s one of the best places in Maine for leaf peeping. 

⭐️ The many gorgeous Bar Harbor Hotels, and pet friendly lodgings are still open, along with restaurants, catering to the leaf peeping crowds.

Whether you are an avid hiker, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking a family getaway, Acadia in the fall promises to be extraordinary.

What is the Best Time to see Fall Colors in Acadia National Park?

​​The best time to see fall colors in Acadia National Park is typically from mid-September to mid-October. Though you can see fall foliage from early September into early November. During this peak period, the park’s trees burst into vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating a breathtaking display of autumn colors.

LOCAL TIP: Keep an eye on fall foliage timing with the Maine Fall Foliage Watch website.

Fall weather in Acadia National Park 

The fall weather in Acadia is characterized by a mix of sunny and overcast days, with some rainfall throughout the autumn months.  Average temperatures range from the mid-40s to the low 60s Fahrenheit (7 to 20  degrees Celsius). 

MONTHHIGHS LOWS AVERAGE # RAINY DAYS
September68°F / 20°C48°F / 9°C7
October55°F / 13°C37°F / 3°C9
November44°F / 7°C28°F / -2°C9

☂️ Grab rainy day Acadia activity ideas to keep the fun going in inclement weather.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK IN FALL

Beautiful fall foliage bridge over ocean
Beautiful Acadia Fall Foliage | Photo: F11Photo via Depositphotos

1. Acadia National Park Foliage Cruise by Schooner Boat 

Hop aboard a comfortable sightseeing boat and embark on a leisurely cruise that takes you along the stunning coastline of Acadia National Park. 

A unique way to see Acadia National Park fall foliage as you sail through Frenchman Bay.

While enjoying panoramic views of the colorful foliage that blankets the hillsides and reflects on the calm ocean surface. Knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights into the history of the area and park, enhancing your leaf peeping experience.

⛵️ Sunset boat tours offer live music, but limited historical information. 

Grab your boat right from downtown  Bar Harbor, Maine.

2. Visit Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse | Photo: appalachianview via Depositphotos

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is an iconic spot to visit, especially for photographers looking for an amazing peak fall color shot. 

An easy stop for leaf peepers on an Acadia fall foliage drive.

Explore Fall Scenic Drives in Acadia National Park

If you’re heading to Acadia in Fall, definitely check out some of these scenic drives, perfect for leaf peeping. Heading away from the main tourist area of Park Loop Road, and into the Schoodic Peninsula, will give a quieter experience.  


🚙 Need to rent a car? This favorite car rental tool will help you find the best deals. 

Don’t want to drive? A fall foliage bus tour is the ticket. Avoid having to park, and just take in the scenery and sites. 

3. Drive Park Loop Road

Acadia Park Loop Road Fall Foliage road
Photo: annavalerievna1 via Depositphotos

Park Loop Road is an  iconic 27-mile road that is a must-drive for fall enthusiasts. Wind your way along the rugged coastline, passing by towering cliffs and panoramic ocean views.

Admire the changing leaves as you make stops at highlights like Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, and Otter Cliffs.

⭐️ This is one of the best things to add to your Acadia itinerary.

4. Jordan Pond Road

Jordan Pond and the Bubbles with fall foloage
Jordan Pond & Bubbles | Photo: mandritoiu via Depositphotos

Immerse yourself in the beauty of Acadia’s fall foliage on this picturesque drive. The road winds alongside Jordan Pond, where the reflection of colorful leaves in the tranquil waters creates a postcard-worthy scene. 

Stop at the Jordan Pond House for a delightful meal or indulge in their famous popovers.

Then take a hike along the hiking trails in the area, we’ll highlight below. 

5. Cadillac Mountain Road

Fall colors on top of Cadillac Mountain, with ocean and islands in background.
Cadillac Mountain, Acadia Fall Foliage | Photo: James Griffiths via Depositphotos

Take a leisurely drive up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard. 

Once at the top, soak in the panoramic vistas of Acadia’s mountains, forests, and coastline in fall. It’s popular at sunrise. 

LOCAL TIP: You’ll need a reservation to drive up to the top of the Cadillac Summit Road, May through October. 

6. Explore Schoodic Peninsula

Drive the Schoodic Peninsula, part of the the 29-mile Schoodic National Scenic Byway for more relaxing fall fun. 

Add to your Acadia leaf-peeping experience by heading away from the main tourist section. Follow the coastline, past lighthouses, sea birds, and epic views of  Cadillac Mountain and Mount Desert Island.

Stop at Schoodic Point to watch the waves crash against the shore, while keeping your eye out for seals, and porpoises.  To watch the lobster fisherman and boats come in and out, head down to Winter Harbor’s town pier.

Best Fall Foliage Hikes in Acadia

Fall in Acadia National Park, and Northern Maine is a time of breathtaking beauty, as the leaves transform into a vibrant tapestry of colors. 

You’ll definitely want to lace up your hiking boots and embark one of these trails that showcase the best hikes of Acadia’s fall foliage.

7. Hike the Bubbles (Moderate)

Bubble Rock on the edge of  mountain.
Bubble Rock along the Bubbles Trail | Photo: Ultima_Gaina via canva.com

The Bubbles is a 1.5 mile, 60 to 90 minute quick family friendly hike that offers views of Jordan Pond and the surrounding mountains.

This family friendly hike  will take you to the iconic North Bubble, and to the top of South Bubble, for panoramic views of Acadia’s fall splendor. 

Plus past one of Acadia’s most visited tourist attractions; Bubble Rock. Perfect for family photos.

The trail leads through forests ablaze with reds, oranges, and yellows, culminating in a rewarding vista that overlooks Jordan Pond and the surrounding mountains. 

8. Take the Precipice Trail (Strenuous)

Feeling adventurous, then the Precipice Trail, a challenging 3.2 miles round trip hike is for you. 

This exhilarating trail offers stunning views and an up-close experience with Acadia’s fall colors. 

Climb iron rungs and navigate narrow ledges as you ascend steep cliffs, all while surrounded by the vibrant hues of autumn. Plan for about 2 to 3 hours.

The Precipice Trail is usually open in Spring and Fall, but closed in the summer for  the Peregrine Falcon Nesting Season.

Not suitable for families with children under 12, or on rainy days. 

9. Walk the Jordan Pond Path (Easy)

Jordan Pond Path along the water with fall foliage.
Jordan Pond Path fall foliage | Photo: Jennifer Yakey-Ault via canva.com

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of fall on this easy, family-friendly trail that loops around the picturesque Jordan Pond, following the west side. 

The full loop is  3.3 miles, and takes 1 to 3 hours and follows a raised wooden plank boardwalk to start.

Marvel at the reflection of colorful leaves in the serene waters as you enjoy a leisurely stroll.

10. Hike the Carriage Roads (Easy)

Grave path on the Carriage Roads in Fall.
Carriage Roads in Fall | Photo: PictureLake via canva.com

Hiking (or biking) the Carriage Roads in Fall is an amazing experience. Many hiking trails intersect with these historic roadways, and are easy to walk on.

Check out these suggested routes, as there’s miles of carriage roads & bridges to explore.

Another fun family friendly way to see this area’s spectacular fall foliage is with an actual horse-drawn carriage ride.

11. Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail (Moderate)

Sunset view Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Mountain View | Photo: alexeys via canva.com

If you missed out on grabbing a car reservation to the top of Cadillac Mountain, then this trail is a good alternative.. 

Ascend Cadillac Mountain via the South Ridge Trail for a challenging but rewarding hike. Traverse rocky slopes and marvel at the vibrant autumn forest  colors that blanket the landscape as you make your way to the summit.

This 7.1 mile  round trip hike will take 2 to 4 hours, and does involve one iron rung and hiking over boulders. 

12. Gorham Mountain Trail (Moderate)

Fall colors from Gorham Mountain at sunrise, with Sand Beach in background, Acadia National Park.
Gorham Mountain View | Photo: PictureLake via canva.com

This 3.5 mile round trip moderate trail treats hikers to breathtaking vistas of Acadia’s fall foliage and panoramic ocean views.

Wind your way through forested paths and over rocky terrain.

Avoid the Cadillac Cliff trail section in bad weather, or with small children as it  does involve rungs and ladders.

Your round trip hike should take 1 to 3 hours. 

13. Great Head Trail (Moderate)

Embark on this scenic coastal trail, as the Great Head Trail winds through forests and along cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Keep children away from the edges.

Experience the magic of Acadia’s fall foliage against the backdrop of crashing waves and stunning seaside meanderings. Look down on Sand Beach, and end your day there. 

There’s even stone from an old tower that used to be a tearoom and  observatory.

The hike is typically 1.9 miles round trip, and up to 2 to 4 hours long. Or there is a way to shorten it to 1.3 miles.

14. Beehive Trail Loop (Strenuous)

Beehive Trail rungs in rock, with fall foliage and Sand Beach below.
Beehive Trail in Fall | Photo: Douglas Rissing via canva.com

The Beehive Trail Loop is another one of those Acadia trails, not for the faint of heart. But well worth the amazing ocean views.

This fairly difficult 1.4 mile loop trail, heads up a 450 ft cliff face, where you’ll need to walk along  exposed cliffs, iron rungs, and granite staircases. Expect to be up there 1 to 3 hours, depending on your pace, and if you stop along the way.

Not recommended for families with young children, or for rainy days.

15. Visit an Acadia Beach

Acadia has so many great beaches.

Fall is the perfect time to watch the waves crash against the shore, or spout up at Thunder Hole.

Or do a little beach combing, to see what you can find.

Take a wander along the easy Ocean Path, and stop along the way at Sand Beach, Boulder Beach, and Thunder Hole.

Check out our full post on the best beaches in Acadia.

Where to Stay Near Acadia National Park in Fall

We recommend staying in Bar Harbor, Maine in Fall, when visiting Acadia.

It’s the most convenient, with easy access to the park, and more options for lodging, and places to eat.

Top 3 Picks: Best Bar Harbor Hotels

#1 TOP PICK

Inn on Mount Desert room

INN ON MOUNT DESERT

✔️ Free Breakfast & Snacks

✔️ Games Room

✔️ Walking distance to downtown & waterfront

#2 PICK

BAR HARBOR INN

✔️ Oceanfront

✔️ Pool, hot tubs, luxury spa

✔️ Free breakfast

#3 PICK

Primrose Inn, Bar Harbor room, with bed and light.

PRIMROSE INN

✔️ Romantic B&B

✔️ Outstanding free breakfast

✔️ Walking distance

Where to Eat Near Acadia in the Fall

There are many wonderful places to eat in Bar Harbor, Maine and nearby at the local lobster pounds. I mean you are in Maine after all. 

Here are a few of the most popular & tasty choices:

  • 2 Cats Bar Harbor –  For their Eggs Benny, and amazing year round breakfast
  • Café This Way – For their fancy coffees, blueberry pancakes and Monte Cristo Sandwiches. They use local & organic where possible.
  • Galyn’s – For their fish, seafood, steak, or prime rib
  • Havana – For fine dining with a latin twist. Their outside tapas bar and grill — the Parrilla is a treat as well that doesn’t take reservations.
  • Thurston’s Lobster Pound – Close to Bass Harbor Lighthouse for some tasty lobster rolls, steamed lobster or bisque. Right on the water. 

Check out our full list of our favorite breakfast spots in Bar Harbor, Maine

FAQs 

How much does it cost to enter Acadia National Park in Fall?

The entrance fee for Acadia National Park for a private vehicle with passengers is $35 for a 7-day pass, $30 for a motorcycle and rider, $20 per person (biking or no vehicle), and free for youth 15 years and younger. There’s also a $6 car reservation fee to drive up Cadillac Mountain May to October.

There are also other  options if you buy a year long pass, are a veteran or are a senior. 

What are some other activities I can enjoy in Acadia National Park during the fall, besides hiking? 

In addition to hiking, Acadia offers a range of activities in fall such as biking, birdwatching, kayaking, and photography. You can also explore scenic drives, take boat tours, visit historic sites,and  attend ranger-led programs. All while taking in the breathtaking beauty of the fall foliage throughout the park.

Is October crowded in Acadia National Park? 

Yes, Acadia can get crowded in October, especially during weekends and peak fall foliage times, which are generally the first two weeks. However, it’s less crowded than the busy summer months. To avoid crowds, consider visiting on weekdays, early in the morning, or later in the afternoon. Additionally, exploring lesser-known trails and attractions within the park can provide a more secluded experience.

Is October a good time to visit Bar Harbor?

Yes, October is a great time to visit Bar Harbor. The temperatures are milder, the fall foliage is in full swing, and all the shops, restaurants and tours are still available. Plus Acadia National Park is gorgeous, with many family friendly hikes still available with epic leaf peeping and ocean views.

Is Acadia National Park Cold in October?

Acadia National Park can be cool in October. The average temperatures range from the 40s to 60s Fahrenheit (4-15 degrees Celsius). It’s recommended to dress in layers and be prepared for cooler weather, especially in the mornings and evenings, or by the ocean. It’s also a good idea to check the weather forecast before your visit.

MAINE RESOURCES

Here are our favourite resources we use to research and book our trips. They offer competitive deals, and good customer service. Plus itineraries and more travel ideas for Maine:
Boston to Bar Harbor Road Trip: What not to miss
13 Best Breakfast Spots in Bar Harbor, ME
Bar Harbor Hotels with a Pool
Best Acadia Beaches
—-
Best Maine Activities in Spring
Maine in Summer: Best Things to Do
Best Oceanfront resorts & hotels in Maine
Airports in Maine
What Maine is Known For
Weather in Maine

Booking.com – Excellent all round booking site for lowest lodging rates.
VRBO – Book family friendly accommodations without the cleaning!
Viator – Find & book even more experiences, tours & fun lessons world wide.
Discover Cars – Make finding the cheapest or best car for your trip easy (worldwide)

Anything else? Check out our Family Travel Resources & Tips page

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