ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The system of time-entry reservations for driving up Cadillac Mountain, which was in effect for the first time this summer and early fall, worked so well that park officials are planning few if any changes for next year, except for maybe lengthening the reservation season.
The system was put in place to ensure, as much as possible, that everyone who drove to the summit of Cadillac would have a place to park once they got there. Overcrowding has been a serious problem in recent years, especially around sunrise and sunset.
“We were really pleased with the reservation system,” Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider said. “We’ve had an unprecedented year for visitation, and the reservation system really saved Cadillac Mountain from being completely overwhelmed.
“People who had reservations had a phenomenal experience, and the operations went really smoothly with our staff.”
Schneider said no firm decisions have yet been made about the reservation system for next year, but it is likely the reservation season will be extended somewhat. This year, it started May 26 and went through Oct. 19. But for several days after reservations were no longer required, so many people wanted to go to the summit of Cadillac for sunrise and sunset that the road up the mountain had to be closed, and hundreds of cars were turned away.
“We may extend the reservation season a week or two in the fall or start it a week or two earlier in the spring,” Schneider said.
In the fall of 2020, when Acadia piloted the reservation system for Cadillac Mountain for 18 days, it also piloted a reservation system for the Ocean Drive section of the Park Loop Road, which goes from the Sand Beach entrance station to Otter Cliff Road. It passes some of the most popular places in the park including Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, the Ocean Path and the Beehive and Gorham Mountain hiking trails. Cars are often parked along the road, including in the right travel lane, and traffic can be backed up for more than a mile.
But because of a variety of difficulties, including the lack of reliable cell phone service around the entrance station, the decision was made not to put the reservation system in place for Ocean Drive this year. And Schneider said there are no plans to do so for 2022.
Congestion and overflow parking are also chronic problems at Jordan Pond, and park officials have considered instituting a reservation system for parking there.
“I’m not sure if we can do anything with Jordan Pond in 2022, but we are trying to think about how that might look,” Schneider said. “We’re thinking through a variety of possibilities.”