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Considering a visit to beautiful Acadia National Park in the fall? You certainly aren’t the only one — it’s a very popular time to visit this New England destination!
While summer is the busiest season for visitors, early fall is not too far behind, so you’ll want to plan your trip early and be sure to book accommodations as soon as possible.
In this helpful guide, we’ll share what you need to know about Acadia in the fall, plus give you tons of tips for places to go and things to do to maximize your visit.
It’s the season of pumpkins and falling leaves, crisp air and cozy sweaters…everyone loves fall in New England!
You might also like our guide to the best things to do in Acadia all year round for more inspiration.
If you’re starting your adventure in MA, follow our Boston to Acadia road trip to enjoy the beautiful coastal towns, beaches, and lighthouses along the way.
What to Know About Visiting Acadia National Park in the Fall
Entrance passes are still required into October, so be sure to get yours on the NPS site.
If you’re visiting multiple National Parks within the year, you’d be better off getting the America the Beautiful Pass.
The Hulls Cover Visitors Center is still open daily through October 31st; as of November 1st, it’s considered to be off-season so the only visitor center is in Bar Harbor at the Chamber of Commerce (2 Cottage St).
Many other services and amenities start to close before the end of October, so take a look at the NPS schedule to best plan your trip.
The Island Explorer shuttle bus stops operating just after the long weekend in October (Indigenous Peoples Day), so if you’re coming later in the month you won’t have that public transport option available.
Acadia National Park in September
Leaf-peeping season in Acadia is very popular, so book your accommodations early and plan ahead.
Cruise ships continue to arrive through September, bringing large crowds of day visitors.
If you plan to hike, hit the trails earlier to avoid the crowds and get a parking spot in the smaller lots.
Whale-watching season and other boat tours tend to end in September, so you’ll have to head to Acadia earlier if you’re interested in going out on the water.
The weather in Acadia in September is still really nice; the average high is 71°F while the average low gets down to 52°F.
Temperatures start to drop at the end of September; be sure to pack layers and be ready for anything from sunny and 60 to freezing overnight temps.
Acadia National Park in October
The best time to visit Acadia National Park for fall colors is usually October.
Peak foliage changes every year and depends on a variety of factors, but the first week of October is usually a safe bet.
Check the peak foliage estimator to plan your trip if you have flexibility.
Note that lots of places close at some point in October, so you’ll want to check schedules carefully if you’re planning a trip any time after Labor Day.
It’s best to call ahead for restaurants to double-check opening times mid- to late-October, since many close up for the season.
Don’t worry though, there are plenty of people who live in and around Bar Harbor year-round, so you’ll still have options and places to eat!
But — as visitors become less frequent and places start to close — you’ll benefit from no longer needing a pass to drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain, so you can feel free to head up there whenever the weather is fine.
You’ll also notice fewer folks on the trails, so you can really immerse yourself in nature if you’re eager to go hiking.
The weather in Acadia in October definitely gets cooler and wetter; the average high is 59°F while the average low gets down to 43°F.
November is the wettest month, so the end of October can start to see those rainy days roll in.
You’re unlikely to see snow in October but it’s not unheard of!
Things to Do in Acadia in the Fall
There are tons of awesome things to do and places to go in Acadia, but some are especially perfect for the fall season.
For more inspiration, check out our full list of things to do all year round.
Drive the Park Loop Road
The Park Loop Road makes for a dreamy Acadia fall foliage adventure!
With 27 miles of paved road to enjoy, you can slowly make your way around the whole loop to bask in the beauty and stop wherever you see a good vista.
If you’re not into hiking, the Park Loop Road is a lovely way to enjoy the fall colors without breaking a sweat.
Plan for 3-4 hours if you intend to drive the whole loop and make stops along the way, which you absolutely should to truly enjoy the fall colors in Acadia!
Driving the whole loop is especially ideal if you have another driver in the car to trade off the responsibility of paying attention halfway through the drive.
Take a Guided Tour
Perhaps the best way to enjoy Acadia National Park during fall is to let someone else do all the driving so you can just enjoy the gorgeous scenery!
This half-day private tour will show you all the highlights, and your guide’s local expertise means you’ll get to see the best spots depending on the weather and foliage conditions.
A private tour is usually best for families or small groups.
For the more budget-conscious or solo travelers, this full-day small group tour is a perfect way to sit back and relax while someone else handles the driving (and parking).
Bike or Walk the Carriage Roads
Rent a bike (or bring your own) and enjoy the 45-mile network of Carriage Roads.
These stone trails are perfect for enjoying on foot or by bike, especially in the fall!
Do the 10.5-mile Tri-Lakes Loop to get views along Eagle Lake, Bubble Pond, and Jordan Pond, all of which can be framed in fall foliage for beautiful vistas.
Even better, take this e-bike tour to reduce the effort while increasing the information you’ll get along the way!
Join a National Park Service Event
From night sky viewing to guided hikes to scenic cruises of Great Harbor and Somes Sound, the NPS puts on various events that extend into the fall that you should check out.
If any events align with your visit, you can book your spot or show up per their instructions.
Check the calendar to see what’s happening during your visit.
Take a (BRISK!) Dip at Sand Beach
Absolutely stunning in photographs and absolutely freezing in real life, the water at Sand Beach may qualify as an ice bath, which is great for your circulation!
At the very least, stop by Sand Beach to enjoy the fall foliage around this beautiful bit of shore and its sparkling waters.
If you’re feeling brave, get into the water and those fall colors might seem even brighter afterward.
Hike the Beehive Trail
Always a popular hike, the Beehive Trail offers stunning views without being incredibly arduous.
That said, you’ll need to use metal rungs and ladders and you’ll be walking along open cliff faces, so this isn’t a trail for anyone with a fear of heights or vertigo.
This trail is particularly good to do in the fall because it has so many open rock faces, so your views are more expansive along the way.
Of course, keep an eye on weather reports as fall weather starts to get a little more fickle; this is not a trail to tackle on rainy days.
Hike the Precipice Trail
Perhaps the most difficult and simultaneously most popular trail in Acadia, the Precipice is longer and tougher than the Beehive but has a similar structure with its iron rungs and ladders along open cliff faces.
If you do the Beehive and feel good about it, challenge yourself to the Precipice.
The benefit of visiting Acadia in the fall instead of the summer is that this trail should be open; during the summer it is often closed to protect a pair of nesting peregrine falcons.
Note that this trail cannot be attempted in poor weather; if it’s rainy or foggy, make alternative plans for the day.
Looking for more trails? Check out our guide to the best hikes in Acadia National Park.
Walk the Jesup Path and Hemlock Path Loop
Mostly forested and flat, these paths are perfect for enjoying the fall foliage by being amongst it!
With colorful leaves underfoot and overhead, you can get up close to the foliage to enjoy it from a different perspective.
The trail starts next to the Wild Gardens of Acadia.
This is a less challenging figure-8 loop trail and is even wheelchair- and stroller-friendly.
Plan for up to an hour, but take your time to enjoy the scenery and take lots of photos.
Drive or Hike to the Summit of Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak in Acadia and it tempts many a hiker to traverse its trails to the top.
Alternatively, there’s a road so you can drive to the summit and enjoy the views more easily and quickly.
If you choose to drive, note that this requires an additional fee and pass beyond your entrance pass to the park (through mid-October).
You have to book online in advance.
The vista from Cadillac Mountain is one of the most all-encompassing ways to take in the wonder of the Acadia National Park fall foliage.
Watch the Sunrise
With sunrise being later in the morning by fall, you won’t have to be up at a terrible hour to enjoy being one of the very first in North America to see the sunrise.
Drive up to the top of Cadillac Mountain to be one of the very first people in the US to witness the day’s dawn.
You can drive up there any time, but there’s something extra special about being at the summit for sunrise on the fall equinox!
Hike the Bubbles Nubble Loop
A less arduous trail to try is the Bubbles Nubble Loop, which covers 2-4 miles (depending on your trail choices) to reach the tops of North and South Bubble, as well as Connor’s Nubble.
From South Bubble, you can enjoy the fall foliage views around Jordan Pond below.
You’ll also enjoy views of Eagle Lake on this loop, as well as being amidst the forested paths for part of the hike.
This is definitely one of the best trails to enjoy in Acadia National Park in autumn.
Hike Around Jordan Pond
Hike either the Jordan Pond Path or the Jordan Cliffs Loop, depending on how ambitious you’re feeling, and enjoy stellar views of the fall colors around Jordan Pond.
Jordan Pond Path is a little over 3 miles but it is a loop, so you could opt to turn back at any point before the half-way mark.
The Jordan Cliffs Loop is a much more challenging 5-mile hike that has iron rungs and ladders; it’s not advised for children or anyone with a fear of heights.
That said, if you’re up for the challenge you’ll be treated to incredible views with Jordan Pond being fringed by stunning fall foliage colors.
Eat at Jordan Pond House
Before it closes for the season, grab a reservation at Paddle on Jordan Pond House, the only restaurant within Acadia National Park.
Typically closing at the end of October, you’ll want to squeeze in one final scenic meal as you enjoy all the pretty fall colors in Acadia.
Drive the Schoodic National Scenic Byway
Schoodic Peninsula is the only part of Acadia National Park on the mainland.
Drive the beautiful 29-mile Schoodic National Scenic Byway to enjoy the variety of views that are simply stunning in the fall.
There are overlooks and scenic vistas, but you should also plan to stop more frequently for photo ops.
Paddle on Long Pond
If you’re more of a watersports fan than a hill climber, then get out onto Long Pond to enjoy a different fall foliage perspective instead.
Long Pond serves as part of the eastern border of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island.
There is a public boat launch on the north side that is outside of Acadia’s boundaries, while the boat launch on the south side is within Acadia NP.
Rent a kayak or canoe and don’t forget your watertight phone case to take photos without worrying about it going overboard.
Admire Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Perhaps one of Acadia’s most popular attractions, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse warrants the trip, especially during the fall.
Surrounded by evergreens and sitting atop a rocky promontory, the white lighthouse stands out against its surroundings all year round.
But in the autumn, you’ll get to enjoy earlier sunsets, which is the best time to see the lighthouse as it gets bathed in golden light.
Are you excited to visit Acadia National Park in the fall now that you know all the best places to go and things to do? We hope so!
Share your favorite fall foliage spots and autumn adventures in the comments below.