Even though seagulls are always looking to beg or steal a snack, it's illegal to feed wildlife in the park.

Thou Shall Not! The 10 Commandments of Acadia

Those visiting Acadia National Park, especially for the first time, are often given a list of suggested “must dos.” Hiking, bicycling, watching the sunrise/sunset from the top of Cadillac Mountain and visits to Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Jordan Pond are often high on the list.

But neophyte visitors also should be aware of an equally important list – the “must don’ts.”

The following is compiled from years of police reports and based on a 37-page “Superintendent’s Compendium” of special rules for Acadia that is updated annually.

Thou Shall Not:

Steal rocks

Each year, scores of park visitors are caught removing beach cobbles or pieces of granite from ditches and atop Cadillac Mountain. Some are ordered to return the rocks to where they found them. Others are given tickets to appear in court. Occasionally, the park receives a package of rocks returned by someone who claims the theft resulted in them having nothing but bad karma.

Pick mushrooms

Visitors are allowed to pick blueberries, nuts and apples for non-commercial use, as well as “unoccupied” shells. Removing other live vegetation or other items, such as mushrooms, fungi, lichen, pinecones, fiddlehead ferns, etc., is prohibited.

Feed wildlife

You may feel that having a seagull swoop down to grab a piece of your sandwich from your hand is a “Marlin Perkins Wild Kingdom” moment, but it’s illegal. Feeding any wildlife, including birds, squirrels, chipmunk, raccoons, etc., can result in a summons.

Park everywhere

Sure the salesman who sold you that brawny SUV bragged you could climb cliffs in it. But in Acadia, parking is allowed only on paved surfaces or gravel pullouts. Park on the grass, in a ditch or on exposed bedrock, and you will get a ticket. Blocking fire roads, travel lanes or gates usually results in the vehicle being towed at the owner’s expense.

Go nude

While seldom a problem in a climate known more for cold, fog and black flies, flagrant displays of nudity here, especially in busy areas, can result in a summons to court. What you do in sunny places in the backcountry is between you and the people taking pictures from the ever-present sightseeing flights overhead.

Consume alcohol

Consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in public buildings, motor vehicles, parking lots and pullouts, Sand Beach, Echo Lake Beach, along the Lakewood shoreline and on the southeast shore of Long Pond. Yes, if you drive drunk, you will be arrested. And Pot? Possession may be legal where you live, but it’s still a federal crime in the park.

Let Fido run free

Newsflash: Not everyone loves your dog. All dogs must be leashed. Leashes can be no longer than six feet.

Kiss a snapping turtle

Okay, there’s no actual specific rule against it, but one visitor a few years back actually tried it. It should not have taken the resulting trip to the emergency room to convince them it’s not a great idea.

Turn your back on waves

There’s nothing like crashing surf in the background of a killer vacation shot, except that people actually have been swept away and drowned while doing just that. Large waves can appear at any time. They aren’t “rogue.” It’s just what ocean waves do.

And when posing for a photo, it’s not always good to “just move back a bit,” a photographer’s request that has resulted in serious falls off cliffs.

Fly to spy

It is illegal to launch or recover a remote-control drone from anyplace on park property. Several times each summer, rangers encounter visitors looking to kick up a notch the production values of their home movies with aerial footage on Cadillac or along Ocean Drive. It will cost you. The fine can be as much as $1,000.

And speaking of illegal flying, back in the early 1980s, a youngster on a visiting mega-yacht wanted to pick blueberries. The yacht owner’s private pilot used the ship’s helicopter to take the child to the top of Sargent Mountain, landing near the summit. The pilot got a $500 fine. Fortunately, the child was in possession of less than the one-half gallon per day personal consumption limit and managed to avoid early entry into the federal justice system.


P.S. Acadia is a federal fee area. Buy the pass. It’s the law. It helps the park. It’s worth the money.

Earl Brechlin

Earl Brechlin

Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander editor Earl Brechlin first discovered Mount Desert Island 35 years ago and never left. The author of seven guide and casual history books, he is a Registered Maine Guide and has served as president of the Maine and New England Press Associations. He and his wife live in Bar Harbor.
Earl Brechlin

Latest posts by Earl Brechlin (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.