ACADIA NAT’L PARK — “The online reservation process was super easy.”
That was a fairly typical response by park visitors to a survey about the new timed-entry reservation system for driving to the Cadillac Mountain summit.
Another visitor commented: “The vehicle reservation is a good thing. Otherwise, the mountain top would be unbearably crowded!”
A total of 892 park visitors responded to the survey between May 26, the day the reservation system went into effect, and July 13. On a scale of one to five, 596 respondents gave the reservation system a five; 125 gave it a four; 71 gave it a three; 44 gave it a two and 56 gave it a one.
The average rating was 4.3
Some of the other positive responses were:
“User-friendly, clear time slots to schedule.”
“Easy and smooth. Wasn’t too crowded at the top as a result of the reservation system.”
“Making the reservation was totally painless.”
“This new system allows everyone to have the Acadia experience without the crowds. Great idea!”
“We loved the opportunity to reserve our parking time up on Cadillac Mountain.”
“Acadia is the most beautiful place I have ever been! Obtaining…online reservations for Cadillac Mountain was simple and convenient.”
“Bummer that they have to have reservations but, after seeing how many people visit this park, they definitely are a necessity.”
Of course, as the survey scores indicate, not everyone was happy with the Cadillac reservation system. Some sample comments were:
“Your automated system is terrible.”
“We had hoped to book a sunrise time for Cadillac Mountain, but it was impossible, literally gone in one minute.”
“It was frustrating to need reservations for Cadillac Mountain.”
Timed entry reservations for driving up the Cadillac Mountain summit road are required between dawn and dusk through Oct. 19. Reservations cost $6 per vehicle. That is in addition to the cost of the required park entrance pass. Reservations may be purchased online at recreation.gov up to 90 days in advance.
The reservation system for Cadillac Mountain was implemented to eliminate vehicle gridlock at the summit. At times in recent years, there have been more than twice as many drivers looking for a place to park as there are parking spaces.
“The reservation system is not to keep people from going up; it’s to control vehicles,” said Acadia Management Assistant John Kelly. “So, any taxi or ride-sharing service that is not going to be taking up a parking space, but just dropping off or picking up people, can drive to the summit without a reservation.”
One local taxi service had a van that in late May began running an hourly shuttle service between downtown Bar Harbor and the Cadillac summit. But that service has been suspended for the season because of lack of ridership.
Oli’s Trolley also began offering a new tour between downtown Bar Harbor and the top of Cadillac Mountain. But that tour also has been suspended. Oli’s Trolley’s two-and-a-half-hour tour of Acadia includes a 15-minute stop at the Cadillac summit. The four-hour tour stops at the summit for 30 minutes.
Acadia National Park Tours, another private tour operator, includes a 15-minute stop at the Cadillac summit as part of its two-and-a-half-hour tour of Acadia and Bar Harbor and a 25-minute stop on its three-and-a-half-hour tour.