Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017

First Visit to Acadia National Park

February 19, 2019  •  1 Comment

We took our first vacation to Acadia National Park in late September last year.  A very long drive from western North Carolina.  I had arranged for a private photo guide to take me out one day since I knew nothing about Acadia and was hoping to find some "secret" locations.  Overall, it was a bit of a disappointing day but luckily it ended on a high note.  The weather was very sunny, which didn't lead to too many "wow" photos.  It's sort of a gamble when you go on a vacation intending to take photos as you're highly dependent on the weather.  And not knowing the guide with only relying on customer comments, you're sort of shooting in the dark too.  I'd give my guide about a B- for the day on getting me to good locations at the right time.

I still had another three days in the area after the photo tour so I was able to get out to some new places and back to others I wanted to revisit.  Since I was with my non-photographer wife, splitting time (and the car) was important but she is supportive of my photography passion so it generally worked out.  

We thought by going in late September the fall foliage would be present.  Learned that peak colors usually don't start until mid-October. But really, don't go to Acadia hoping to see a lot of great autumn scenes.  Go to Vermont and New Hampshire early October for those.  I'll be covering New Hampshire in an upcoming post.

About half our time in Bar Harbor was in rainy cold weather so that impacted some of my shooting plans.  Don't get me wrong, its a beautiful place to see.  For me, once was enough.  My wife on the other hand would love to go again.  If you plan to go, get reservations early.  Check them out thoroughly.  We ended up renting a house since our son was joining us.  It came with high ratings but we didn't like it at all.  Not comfortable at all and VERY old.  Since the TVs and something else didn't work, we ended up getting a credit for one night.  Accommodations and dining are expensive in Bar Harbor and there are nearly no major hotel chains in the area.

Here are just a few photos I took during our visit.

Here is one from the Park Loop Road - likely a bit south of Sand Beach.  The cliff in the background is Otter Cliff.  That was one of the bigger disappointments for me.  I thought the rugged cliffs abounded through the park.  They don't.  There is just a fairly short stretch of them along the southeast section of the park.  The area is great, don't get me wrong.  I just imagined there being more.  Also a word of warning.  Know the tides and don't go out on the beaches as the tide is coming in.  You could get caught not being able to get out in time.

This is one of my favorite photos of the trip, the lighthouse at Bass Harbor.  A word of advice here too.  Get here about 3 hours earlier than sunset if you want one of only six prime spots.  My guide got us here about 45 minutes early and the area was packed with people making it very difficult to get a shooting spot.  As it turned out I had to shimmy up a very pointy and uncomfortable rock.  Lucky I had a tripod with very long legs so I was able to have a secure camera.  Also my composition was limited due to all the people in front of me.  Their heads are just below the frame.  But I was rewarded with a nice sunset and light so that's all that mattered.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, MaineBass Harbor Lighthouse, Maine

I saw this location on social media.  It's called Boulder Beach but you won't find it on any park map the and the park rangers will say there is no such beach.  Not sure why.  Although in certain tide conditions, I could see where it might be dangerous.  Look on the web for best directions but from Park Loop Road, it's south of Thunder Hole and the Gotham Mountain Trailhead.  I believe there is an unmarked parking lot just past Cliff Road and its on the right side and comes up quick.  I missed it 2-3 times.  Once you find the parking lot, just walk across the road and there's this great beach.  By the time I left my car, the rain started and just increased.  On the beach, the better compositions were out a bit and closer to the waves.  As a result I was constantly having to clean off my lenses from either the rain or ocean spray.  I was using an umbrella locked on my tripod but that proved hard to use but did help a bit.  I ended up taking a ton of shots and I did manage to get a couple without too much water on my lens.  Would like to go back in better conditions but I do like the resulting photo.

On the way to Bar Harbor we stayed in Kennebunk, ME one night.  Thirty minutes out of town you go through Portland and we stopped at their landmark lighthouse.  Here again, get there really early as the buses flood in there right away.  We did and walked at a fast clip to get to this spot.  I had to erase many people from the photo that were lining the front of the building.  Much later and I think it would be impossible to clean up the shot.  I was fortunate to get some dramatic skies but I was only able to stay a few minutes.  I've also seen some gorgeous photos from here at sunset and from the other side of the lighthouse.  People, as always, are the main compositional issue here.

Maine, Bar Harbor and Acadia were nice.  Wish we would have had better weather and accommodations.  I'd like to visit other places before going back there.  In my upcoming post, I share some thoughts on our visit to neighboring New Hampshire, which I really loved and hope to get back to soon.


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