You’re going to need a reservation to drive in Acadia National Park

Feb 18, 2020

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Peak season for visiting national parks in the U.S. will be here before you know it, and we know many of you are counting down the days. And you should. They’re some of the most beautiful places on Earth, and ideal destinations for a summer vacation.

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If Acadia National Park in Maine is on your list, you’ll want to pay close attention. The park is going to introduce a timed entry reservation system to combat some of the congestion, Outside reports. The hope is that it will lead to a safer, more enjoyable experience for visitors.

Back in 2018, Acadia introduced a long-term transportation plan to clear up traffic and gridlock for visitors — and this is just the latest development.

“This plan is a blueprint for everyone’s future so that we can sustainably accommodate future increases in visitation and still provide a high-quality experience,” said Christie Anastasia, a public affairs specialist for Acadia, according to Outside.

The new reservation system will begin testing in October, but it won’t go into effect for visitors until next summer.

So, if you’re visiting Acadia in 2021 or later, you’ll need to make reservations for the ride up Cadillac Mountain, the drive along scenic Ocean Drive parking in Jordan Pond. It’s not yet clear what it will cost, but visitors should expect to pay an additional fee on top of the $30 park entrance. This rule won’t apply to pedestrians or cyclists.

The exact timeframe for testing in October hasn’t been set yet, so you’ll want to keep an eye on Acadia’s website if you’re planning on visiting during the busy fall-foliage-viewing season. Officials are expecting the test to last for two or three weeks.

When it becomes official, reservations will be available between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day, with the exception of Cadillac Mountain. Because the summit is so popular — especially at sunrise and sunset — it will have different rules, although those details are still being finalized. There won’t be any restrictions on the amount of time you can stay there, though there will be a window of time during which you’re allowed to park your car.

Related: 18 national parks to visit on a cross-country road trip.

Acadia is following in the footsteps of other national parks, such as Haleakala National Park in Hawaii, which has a similar timed-entry reservation system. Similarly, Alaska’s Denali National Park has a road lottery, and Yosemite announced a parking reservation system back in 2016. If you’re traveling to Muir Woods National Park, you’ll have to reserve a permit before driving into the park altogether.

Want to get the most value out of a trip to Acadia? Grab an $80 annual national park pass, rather than pay the $30 entry fee, and be sure to visit at least a few more parks. Travelers can also explore more of Acadia on foot. You might need to leave camp between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. to see the first sunrise from the highest point on the North Atlantic coast, but there’s no better reward for an early morning hike. Plus, that way, you won’t have to worry about paying for a reservation to drive up and park at the summit.

Featured photo by © Jan Zwilling/Getty Images.

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