ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The park will conduct a trial run of its timed-entry vehicle reservation system Oct. 1-18 in preparation for fully implementing it next summer.
Reservations will be required for vehicles to enter the Ocean Drive section of the Park Loop Road at the Sand Beach entrance station from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and to enter the Cadillac Mountain Summit Road between 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Reservations may be purchased online for $2 at Recreation.gov; they will not be sold in the park. Each reservation will provide a specific entry time, but there will be no required departure time.
The purpose of the reservation system, according to park officials, is “to reduce severe traffic and parking congestion so visitors can plan ahead and have a more enjoyable visit to Acadia.”
Superintendent Kevin Schneider said most of the park will remain accessible without a reservation, including all the carriage roads and nearly all the hiking trails.
“If you want to visit the park’s most popular areas during peak times with your vehicle, you now have the opportunity to guarantee access with a reservation,” he said.
A reservation will not guarantee a specific parking space. If you leave the reservation area in your vehicle, you will need another reservation to re-enter.
Alf Anderson, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said of the vehicle reservation system, “Knowing in advance when a family will have a convenient place to park while they watch the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, marvel at Thunder Hole or play on Sand Beach will make their visit to Acadia National Park more relaxing and enjoyable.
“Providing a positive visitor experience is in the best interest of the business community in Bar Harbor and around Acadia.”
David MacDonald, president and CEO of Friends of Acadia, is happy about the new system saying, “We have heard again and again from visitors about the frustration of being stuck in traffic or turned away when the Cadillac Summit Road or Sand Beach entrance become gridlocked by overcrowding. Having the ability to pre-plan with a reservation, just as you would with a whale watch or a carriage ride or a dinner out, should provide more certainty and a better experience once in the park.”
The park will be piloting the timed entry reservation system this fall.
This story has been updated.