Acadia National Park covers 47,453 acres in the U.S. state of Maine near Bar Harbor. The park encompasses Mount Desert Island and its outer islands including the Schoodic Peninsula. At its creation in 1916, the park was named Sieur de Monts National Monument but in 1919, the name was changed to Lafayette National Park. Then in 1929, it was given the name of Acadia National Park. Glaciers carved much of the valley and created the surrounding scenery today. The main island is dotted with granite rocks bordered with white sand shorelines and cobblestone beaches. The ocean scent is unmistakable with seabird calls and wide open skies.
East of the Mississippi River, Acadia is the oldest national park in the United States. About 5,000 years ago, the Wabanaki people were its first inhabitants who left some evidence of their existence along its shores. French explorer Samuel Champlain discovered the island in 1604. Then in the mid-1800s, numerous artists visited the island to paint its scenery. Later, wealthy American families like the Rockefellers, Dorrs, and Eliots started to build summer cottages on the island. As the island became a popular summer retreat, efforts were made to establish a national park through land grants and donations. Today the park attracts millions of visitors from around the world.
Visitors to Acadia can enjoy several scenic drives that feature loops around the whole park. There are also ranger-led tours for adults and children. Hikers can hike about 120 miles of hiking trails as well as walk the 50 miles of car roads on the island. Two beaches are available for the public to swim in. Echo Lake and Sand Beach both have lifeguards. Two campgrounds offer campers reservation camping with one open year-round and the second open from Memorial Day only to September 30. A nature center is also on the island with a conservation theme. The museum on Little Cranberry Island can be reached by tour boats from the island.
Habitat and Biodiversity
Acadia has many habitats that are home to its many flora and fauna. It has ocean shoreline, lakes, woodlands, pine forests, fjord, and mountain. Cadillac Mountain was named after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who was a French explorer. The park's flora consists of coniferous pines, aspen, alder, birch, maple, and vascular plants. Lichens and mosses also inhabit its woodlands. Fauna in and around the park are mainly that of chipmunks, squirrels, deer, beavers, minks, porcupines, moose, coyotes, foxes, muskrats, brown bears, and elk. The beaver population has made a comeback in recent years due to trappers.
Environmental Threats and Conservation
The U.S. National Park Service oversees the conservation and preservation of Acadia National Park. It covers land, waters, flora and fauna including private properties inside the Acadian Archipelago. The Land program of the park also oversees the scenic, cultural, and ecological values of all land under the program. Other program activities that the park oversees are the marking, clearing, and survey of the park and its borders. It also checks the activities on the private properties adjacent to the park to make sure it does not damage the park's resources and land. It also helps landowners protect the integrity of their properties.