The Best Times to Visit Acadia National Park for Good Weather and Affordable Rates

In short, it depends on what you want to do.

Looking down at Echo Lake surrounded by fall foliage. Beech Cliff Loop, Echo Lake; Location: Acadia National Park, Maine
Photo: HUM Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

No matter the time of year, travelers from around the world flock to Acadia National Park looking to bask in the never-ending ocean views, hike 150 miles of trails, eat popovers at Jordan Pond House, and watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain. With more than four million annual visitors, Acadia is one of the country's most popular national parks.

Each season provides a unique perspective to the rocky coast of Maine, so here are the best times to visit Acadia National Park, depending on your itinerary.

Acadia National Park Seasons at a Glance

Peak season is considered June through October. For the months between November and May, the park is still open, but with limited access (and fewer local accommodations and restaurants).

Most Affordable Time to Visit Acadia National Park

Last winter was the first time Acadia National Park started collecting a fee in the off-season. Previously, the park was free between Nov. 1 and April 30.

So, while the $30 fee (valid for seven days) does not change season to season, the cost of surrounding accommodations on Mount Desert Island swells significantly during the summer. Even budget-friendly inns and motels without any amenities can start at $300 per night during peak summer travel.

The only accommodations within Acadia National Park itself are two campgrounds, both of which are regulated by the National Park Service (NPS) and can be booked two months in advance (recommended as most sites sell out immediately after reservations are live).

Best Time to Visit Acadia National Park for Good Weather

There's a saying in Maine that goes something like, "If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes." While it's true you should always pack an extra layer even on the hottest summer days, the weather will not make or break your Acadia experience.

As a local, July and August are the most pleasant months for warm weather, but the changing of seasons in September and October bring an array of colors that shouldn't be missed.

Thunder hole in Acadia, Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park, Maine
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Best Time to Visit Thunder Hole

One of the most popular stops along the Park Loop Road is Thunder Hole, where waves crash against a cavern along a rocky shoreline, creating a thunderous sound and spraying plumes of the Atlantic high into the air. The sights and sounds are stunning, and for the best show, check the tide chart and arrive one to two hours before high tide. Tip: Take the free Island Explorer shuttle in the summer to avoid finding a parking spot.

Cadillac Mountain with fog and wispy clouds at sunset (golden light, purple skies)
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Best Time to Visit Cadillac Mountain

Given its location, Acadia National Park is arguably the first place to see the sunrise in the U.S., and Cadillac Mountain offers an unspoiled view of it. In the past couple years, the park has implemented a reservation system to visit Cadillac Mountain between May 25 and Oct. 22 — a spot can only be reserved through this online portal. This only applies to vehicles, not those wishing to hike or bike the road.

Best Time to Visit Sand Beach

On a hot day, the ocean might reach 67 degrees, but summer water temperatures at Sand Beach usually average in the mid-50s. In other words, visitors don't come here to lounge all day, so the beach itself never feels overcrowded. If you're coming to Sand Beach to hike the Great Head Trail, make sure to pack proper footwear, especially if visiting in the winter months, when ice buildup is common.

Fall colors, mountains, and a sandy beach in Acadia National Park
Jim Ekstrand/Getty Images

Best Time to Drive the Park Loop Road

While a two-mile section of the Park Loop Road remains open year-round, expect the majority of this famed scenic route to be off-limits from Dec. 1 to April 15, depending on the weather.

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