Pahked Ouh Cah in Bah Hahbah

Monday, May 24, 2010 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Bar Harbor, ME & Acadia National Park
Like so many before us, we were drawn to the natural beauty of Acadia National Park, on Mount Desert Island off the Maine coast.  Ranked the second most popular U.S. national park in annual visitors (behind Great Smoky Mountains NP), Acadia was the first national park east of the Mississippi River and remains the only national park in the Northeast.
Hearing so often about Acadia's rocky shores and granite mountains, we have long looked forward to a visit.  The park did not disappoint.  Driving around Park Loop Road brings one to one scenic vista after another. 
This loop road was built and financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., when he and other wealthy Easterners bought land on the island and built lavish summer "cottages."  Rockefeller also financed, designed, and directed the construction of a network of carriage roads throughout the park. 
The network encompassed over 50 miles of crushed granite roads, which were painstakingly located to present a series of scenic vistas displaying the island at its best.  Seventeen granite bridges and two gate lodges were included in the system, most of which is still maintained today.  Today visitors can traverse these scenic routes by foot, bicycle, snowshoe, or cross-country skis.
Not all of Mount Desert Island is in the park and not all of the park is on the island.  We had some opportunities to letterbox on the island, and this had to be one of the most scenic places where we've stamped in.  It certainly had one of the best views.
No trip to Mount Desert Island would be complete without a visit to Bah Hahbah.  Once an exclusive resort for wealthy industrialists, Bar Harbor now welcomes all tourists.  At first glance, the village bears an uncanny resemblance to Gatlinburg or any other town which has focused its economy around tourist trade.
 
The streets are lined with souvenir and novelty shops selling t-shirts, tote bags, hats, jewelry, toys, and other authentic Maine items made in China or Vietnam.  Unlike Gatlinburg (and like Jackson Hole), the trinket troves are interspersed with small art galleries and trendy boutiques.  Since we're not easily amused by shopping, we happily bypassed it all.

Daily Stats:
Miles driven:  98
Letterboxes:  9
Scenic vistas:  64
Rocks:  1, 452, 890
Lighthouses:  1
Souvenir shops:  382
High temp:  80° F