ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — The entire Park Loop Road, including the road to the top of Cadillac Mountain, is now officially open to all vehicles for the 2015 season.
The park’s carriage roads were scheduled to be closed to all public access and use starting April 22, to protect their gravel surface. It softens during the spring thaw, and is subject to holes and rutting inadvertently caused by walkers and bicyclists.
The carriage roads within the park will remain closed to all public access until officials determine the surface is firm enough to avoid damage.
All visitors to the park are required to have an entrance pass. The fee station near Sand Beach, which is the primary collection point, officially opens for the season on May 1.
The seasonal cost is $20 per week per vehicle. A season pass is $40.
If a vehicle is parked in Acadia and does not display an entrance pass or hangtag, park rangers will leave a bright green informational card under the windshield wiper, warned chief ranger Stuart West. As a reminder, the park also will be installing new signs that read “Park Entrance Pass Required” at locations where visitors enter the park by vehicle.
“The new requirement is in response to the average 68 percent entrance fee compliance rate,” said West. “Sequestration and the resulting late park opening last year really opened people’s eyes about how close to the bottom line we were operating. Increasing fee compliance is a natural outcome of making the most of what you have to work with.”
Entrance passes may be obtained at various times of year at the following Acadia National Park fee stations: Sand Beach Entrance Station, Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Bar Harbor Village Green, Thompson Island Information Center, Blackwoods Campground, Seawall Campground and park headquarters.
Weekly entrance passes are also available at Cadillac Mountain gift shop, Jordan Pond House gift shop and other area businesses. Call 288-3338 for a list of these locations.
This winter’s heavy snowfall coupled with cold spring temperatures caused the National Park Service to postpone the Park Loop Road opening, which is normally scheduled for April 15. Crews used heavy equipment to open up the loop road from the Hulls Cove Visitor’s Center to Otter Creek for the usual opening date.
The National Park Service has not determined an opening date for the park’s unpaved roads, which are normally scheduled to open on May 15. Visitors travelling on roads closed to private vehicles should be cautious of park snow removal equipment and vehicles operating during the day.
Since 1992, the National Park Service and Friends of Acadia have invested large sums of public and private funds to rehabilitate and maintain 45 miles of historic carriage roads in Acadia National Park.
Experience has proven that closing the carriage roads for a short time during the spring allows the gravel surface to drain adequately and become firm. This helps prevent the development of post-holes created by footsteps and ruts created by bicycle tires while the surface is soft.
Visitors should be aware that entering the closed area is in violation of Federal Regulations.
“The record snowfall this winter has been challenging, and we appreciate the understanding and cooperation of visitors as we prepare for another busy summer season at Acadia National Park,” said Superintendent Sheridan Steele.
Visitors should check the park website (www.nps.gov/acad) or call 288-3338 for updates on road conditions. Visitors also can stop by the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, which is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.