ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — The road to the top of Cadillac Mountain had to be shut down for more than an hour twice in the last week due to gridlock from too many vehicles at the summit.
During the early afternoon on both Sunday and on Aug. 5, rangers closed off the inbound lane to the summit at the junction with the Park Loop Road to allow time for the crush of vehicles to clear. The closure on Sunday was for nearly two hours. On Aug. 5, it lasted just over an hour.
According to Ranger Darren Belskis, traffic begins backing up at the summit when arriving visitors cannot find space to park. There are 120 individual parking spaces at the summit and slots for five buses. There are an additional 38 spaces in the Blue Hill Overlook lot approximately a quarter mile back down the mountain.
When visitors stop at the summit and wait for a space to open up, the line of vehicles can back up past the Blue Hill lot.
“People may see cars coming down, but usually it’s just those who got tired of waiting, gave up and turned around,” Belskis said.
Rangers need to keep the road free of traffic jams, as they are frequently called to medical emergencies on the mountain.
Just after closing the road on Aug. 5, a 16-year-old boy from Brooklyn, N.Y, who has a history of cardiac issues, reported experiencing chest pains while bicycling up Cadillac with a group. Rangers and paramedics from the Bar Harbor Fire Department ambulance service responded.
Other medical emergencies handled by rangers on the mountain last week included a man from Poland who tripped on his shoelaces while hiking and suffered a possible broken nose, and several injured ankle and heat-related medical problems. “We need to maintain full emergency vehicle access at all times,” Belskis said.
Parking and congestion-related violations occupy a lot of ranger time and attention all over Acadia at this time of year, Belskis explained. It is not unusual for more than a dozen tickets for obstructing traffic, parking off the roadway, or illegal parking to be issued daily. Dozens of warnings are issued. Sometimes, rangers have no choice but to tow vehicles away.
In one incident on the Cadillac Summit Road on Monday, a man from Jonesport was ordered to move his car because it was obstructing the travel lane, but he refused and got belligerent, Belskis said. Eventually, the man complied after being threatened with having his vehicle towed. “We haven’t finished the paperwork yet, but he will be getting a ticket,” Belskis said.