Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. Located off of the Maine coast Acadia features over 49,000 acres of stunning mountain vistas, streams, lakes, meadows, and coastline. Near the park you’ll also find Bar Harbor which features plenty of shops and restaurants.
Whether you’re an explorer or a photographer you’ll love Acadia. Between the coast line, mountains, and hikes there is something for everyone to enjoy in Acadia. It is easily one of my favorite National Parks on the east coast. Of course, the best time to visit the park is for fall foliage which is typically mid October.
Here is my list of the best places to take photos in Acadia National Park:
1. Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Probably the most iconic sight of Acadia Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse features a beautiful lighthouse with a rocky foreground right next to the water. Around sunset on busy days the parking lot can be backed up so plan accordingly since it’s about a 40 minute drive from Bar Harbor.
Once you park you can walk toward the lighthouse or to the other side of the parking lot near the bathrooms which has a path to the rocks.
Getting a great angle of the lighthouse can be a bit challenging since there are trees blocking the view. You’ll see most photographers trying to get as far as they can out on the rocks which can be slippery at times (I fell on my visit). But once your spot you’ll be greeted with a stunning view, especially for sunset.Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse on Google Maps
2. Jesup Path
One of my favorite views in Acadia is the stunning wooden path that goes mostly straight in the woods called Jesup path. Especially during fall you’ll see leaves nested on the sides of the path with stunning autumn colors all around.Jesup Path on Google Maps
3. Jordan Pond
In the heart of Acadia lies Jordan Pond which is surrounded by plenty of hills and mountains. I loved photographing the reflections in the pond along with all of the rocks poking out of the water. If you want more of a peaceful experience I’d recommend going here at sunrise.Jordan Pond on Google Maps
4. Thunder Hole
Thunder Hole features a tight cave that makes a thunderous sound as water rushes in and out of it. The best time to visit Thunder Hole is when tides are changing, that will result in the most splashing and noise. Many of the rocks in the area can be slipper so be careful when exploring, especially at high tide.Thunder Hole on Google Maps
5. Cadillac Mountain
Probably the most popular stop in Acadia is Cadillac Mountain. You can choose to hike to the top but most people will drive to the top of the mountain. Cadillac Mountain features a large parking lot at the top and 360 views of Acadia. From the 1530 foot summit you’ll also have views of Porcupine Islands and Frenchman Bay.Cadillac Mountain on Google Maps
6. Little Hunters Beach
You’ll fine Little Hunters Beach off Park Loop Road making it really easy to get to. You can choose to take the stairs down after parking or head left to a small overlook that lets you peak at the beach through the trees.Little Hunters Beach on Google Maps
7. Sand Beach Overlook
The Sand Beach Overlook features very rocky terrain but gives you a sweeping view of Sand Beach. Additionally you’ll be able to see some of the coast overlooking the ocean from the area.Sand Beach Overlook on Google Maps
8. Blue Hill Overlook
Right before you reach the top of Cadillac Mountain you can pull off at Blue Hill overlook. This area overlooks the west side of Acadia and is just as pretty as the rest of Cadillac Mountain. The rocky area that you can explore mainly overlooks Eagle Lake and its surrounding mountains.Blue Hill Overlook on Google Maps
9. Gorham Mountain Trail
If you’re looking for a fun hike with a great view you’ll love the Gorham Mountain loop. The 0.9 mile hike to the top will have you climbing up plenty of rocks and over 500 feet of elevation. As you hike up you’ll see plenty of sweeping views of Acadia from ledges and rocks.Gorham Mountain Trail on Google Maps
10. Beehive Trail
Beehive Loop Trail offers incredible views of Acadia along with challenging ladder sections of climbing.Beehive Trail on Google Maps
11. Boulder Beach & Otter Cliff
While on Boulder Beach you’ll see Otter Cliff in the distance. This is a great spot for a telephoto or wide lens since you can zoom in on the cliffs or zoom out to get puddles and splashes on the boulders. You can also drive up the road a bit to Otter Cliff and Otter Point as well. Just be careful when walking around since the rocks can be slippery (I fell on my visit!).Boulder Beach on Google Maps Otter Cliff on Google Maps
12. Wild Gardens of Acadia
You’ll find the Wild Gardens of Acadia near the Jesup Path making it a quick detour. Plus it has a large parking lot. The gardens consist of over 300 species of plants that reflect the surrounding Mount Desert Island area.Wild Gardens of Acadia on Google Maps
13. Night Sky Above Acadia
If you’re into astrophotography Acadia National Park offers stunning views of the sky at night. You can also check out DarkSiteFinder to find less light polluted skies in the area.
Acadia National Park Map
Here’s a map of all of the photo locations referenced in this article. You’ll find most of them on Park Loop Drive that goes through out the park.
Recommended Photography Gear for Acadia
Of course just having a phone or your camera you’ll be able to capture stunning scenes in Acadia but here are things I’d recommend bringing if you’re a travel photographer.
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With all of the dramatic scenes at Acadia you’ll want to bring a tripod, wide angle lens, and a Polarizer/ND filter. You can also bring a telephoto lens but I found myself using a wide angle lens most of the time.
Tripod: Having a sturdy tripod will help you capture all of the beauty of Acadia especially during low-light scenes.
Wide Angle Lens: I found myself using my wide angle lens (like the Canon RF 15-35mm) most of the time in Acadia since you can capture the grand nature of the park.
Polarizer: A polarizer will help cut down glare from water or even fall foliage, so having one here will bring a lot of use.
ND Filter: During sunrise and sunset you’ll want to be able to drag your shutter especially to get the bodies of water more still on windy days. A 10-stop ND filter is also great for this use but aren’t great for capturing trees on a windy day.
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I hope you enjoyed my list of the best places to photograph in Acadia National Park. Of course there are a few other places I missed on my visit like hiking to Bubble Rock, exploring all of the hiking trails.
I highly recommend visiting for fall colors in autumn so plan accordingly. You’ll also want to make sure you have a car to get around the park since most places are a few miles apart. The entire New England area is beautiful to explore as well.