Acadia National Park to test parking reservation system

Published: Feb. 24, 2020 at 5:07 PM EST
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If you've been to Acadia National Park in the summer, you've seen how packed it can be, especially at attractions like Cadillac Mountain.

That location can support about 150 parked cars. Acadia National Park Public Affairs Specialist Christie Anastasia says it sees a lot more than that.

"There's about 300 cars that are just parked illegally all over the place."

A possible solution? Having park visitors reserve parking spaces ahead of time.

"Three areas that will require reservation are the road up to the top of Cadillac Mountain. Also what we call the Ocean Drive corridor which is essentially the space from the Sand Beach entrance station down to just a little bit past Thunder Hole. It's about two miles on the Park Loop Road. And then the last location is the Jordan Pond north lot. The reservation will be timed-entry which means there's a time window that you should arrive, but you can keep your vehicle there as long as you want."

The reservation system is scheduled to go into effect in the summer of 2021 with a trial period this fall.

"For about two to three weeks in October, we're going to do sort of a test run. We're going to see how the system works, what it looks like, how people behave, and what's actually happening across the park."

The majority of Acadia will remain open to parking without reservations, or visitors can use a bus.

"If folks for whatever reason aren't interested in a reservation, they can still hop on the fare free Island Explorer public transportation. Still get access to all the spots they want to."

The availability of spots will be split so they can be reserved months in advance or just a few days ahead.

"That way folks who are planning flights and booking campgrounds could have the certainty of getting to those other places with their private vehicle, but folks who kind of wake up in the morning, look out and see that it's a blue sky day, can also get those reservations."

Park officials say they're still working out the details of the plan, such as whether it will include a fee or be included in park passes. They say they'll release more information as it becomes available.