The 27-mile Park Loop Road winds through the heart of Acadia National Park on the eastern side of Mount Desert Island. The road is the primary artery of the park, leading visitors to grand mountain and ocean vistas, through leafy green forests and sunny meadows, and past sparkling lakes and ponds, to more than a dozen of the park’s most popular and prized attractions.
The Park Loop Road idea was conceived by John D. Rockefeller Jr., father of Acadia’s famed carriage roads, who recognized both the inevitability and the potential of the automobile for tourist travel in the early 1920’s. Rockefeller enlisted the talented landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. to design a road system for Acadia that would blend harmoniously into the natural features of the park. Begun in 1922, construction of this beautiful drive was finally completed in 1953.
Twenty miles of the Park Loop Road are designated as one-way, and a 3 1/2-mile spur, the Cadillac Mountain Road, winds to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak in the park. A fee is charged at the entrance station on the Park Loop Road a half-mile north of Sand Beach. Park passes may be purchased here, or at Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Thompson Island Visitor Center, Park Headquarters, and at the information center and Island Explorer bus hub at the Bar Harbor Village Green.
The Park Loop Road begins its magnificent journey at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center just off Route 3 a few miles north of Bar Harbor. Passing Frenchman Bay Overlook and the 1947 Fire Overlook, the road reaches an intersection soon after crossing over Route 233. Here the one-way section of the Park Loop Road turns east, while the two-way portion of the road continues straight ahead to Jordan Pond.
Traveling the one-way section, the Park Loop Road leads to Sieur de Monts Spring and its Nature Center, the Wild Gardens of Acadia, and the Abbe Museum. Beyond Bear Brook Picnic Area and Beaver Dam Pond, the road swings around the high shoulder of Champlain Mountain to Egg Rock Overlook before making a long descent. Just after the Precipice, a side road leads to Schooner Head. Pass through the Sand Beach Entrance Station and soon arrive at Sand Beach. The road hugs the ocean shoreline for the next several miles as it wends past Thunder Hole and Monument Cove to reach Otter Cliffs and then Otter Point. Passing the Fabbri Picnic Area, the roads curves around Otter Cove, crossing the outlet of Otter Creek on a causeway.
North of Hunters Beach the Park Loop Road heads up the dark forested valley next to bubbling Hunters Brook. Crossing the notch between The Triad and Day Mountain, the one-way section of the road ends at a junction. To the left it is 2 miles to Seal Harbor. Wildwood Stables is just ahead on the right.
The two-way Park Loop Road continues north to Jordan Pond and its classic views of The Bubbles. Here also is the famous Jordan Pond House, known for its tea and popovers. Skirting the east shore of Jordan Pond, the road heads for Bubble Rock and Bubble Pond, then runs high above Eagle Lake before reaching the Cadillac Mountain Road. In another mile the Park Loop Road passes the one-way section on the right, ending three miles ahead at Hulls Cove Visitor Center and closing this amazing loop drive.
There are several ways to see the sights along the Park Loop Road. You can drive your own car, take a guided bus tour, or ride the Island Explorer shuttle bus. If you choose to drive, please allow plenty of time to get around, and be sure to stop often and explore the many natural and historic wonders of Acadia. The Park Loop Road can be very crowded during the height of the summer season, so please drive carefully and courteously. Obey the posted speed limits. Parking is allowed along the right side of the road in designated locations only. Exercise care getting in and out of your car as well as crossing the road.