The dramatic 110-foot rock walls of Otter Cliffs are one of the most recognized geological features in Acadia National Park. Located on the eastern edge of Mount Desert Island, Otter Cliffs comes into focus as you travel the Park Loop Road past Thunder Hole and the sea stacks and cobblestones of Monument Cove. Here the rugged coastal headland of beautiful pink granite capped with a dark forest of maritime spruce trees juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, exposed to the full force of the wind and waves.
Beyond its junction with Otter Cliffs Road (which leads to Fabbri Picnic Area and then to Route 3 and Bar Harbor), the Park Loop Road winds up to the height of land atop Otter Point. Just before the road splits there is a small parking lot on the right. Scamper across the road and down the granite steps to join the Ocean Path.
Walking to the left leads to the top of the cliffs with lots of opportunities to step out onto the rocks and drink in the ocean views. Look for rock climbers and their colorful ropes and clanging gear scaling the vertical rock walls. (For adventurous visitors, guided rock climbs can be arranged with several outdoor shops in Bar Harbor.)
The clifftop vista north along Ocean Drive and the shoreline cliffs is breathtaking. Gorham Mountain and The Beehive rise prominently beyond. Sand Beach and Great Head round out the far-reaching views. To the right, the Ocean Path winds through the evergreen woods above the cliffs to end at Otter Point just below the Park Loop Road and a scenic overlook and parking lot.
Where the Park Loop Road splits, bear right and take the high road for spectacular ocean and island views. Listen for the bell buoy just offshore that marks a dangerous rock formation known as the “Spindle,” which has wreaked havoc on more than one seagoing vessel.
A half-mile past Otter Cliffs, at the southern end of the peninsula, is Otter Point. Here, the Park Loop Road reaches close to the water’s edge. A short path leads from the parking area here down to the rocky shoreline, where myriad tidepools can be explored at low tide. Look closely for barnacles, whelks, starfish, and other colorful and tiny marine life.