On July 8th, 2016 Acadia National Park celebrated a gigantic milestone — its 100th birthday! As the oldest national park east of the Mississippi, and with the nickname “Jewel of the Maine Coast,” Acadia is a beloved park for locals and visitors alike. In fact, Acadia is the fifth smallest national park in the country but one of the top ten visited. Just in 2014 alone, more than 2.5 million visitors flocked to the park to enjoy the breathtaking vistas along the Atlantic coastline, the variety of lakes and ponds, the more than 150 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads and 26 mountains that the park offers!
Established originally in 1916 as SIur de Monts National Monument and later renamed (twice), Acadia is not only the oldest eastern national park but the first created from private lands gifted to the public through the efforts of conservation-minded citizens.
Supporters and friends of Acadia will be collaborating throughout the rest of the year to continue the community-based celebration in which hundreds of partners will honor Acadia by expressing their bond with the park — whether it be through events, programs, products, or works of art.
Since the Aurora family is based in Maine and Acadia truly is our little jewel of the coast, we thought it would be great to help celebrate the centennial by asking some of our photographers what Acadia has meant for them. Check out their responses below!
What does Acadia National Park mean to you?
Chris Bennett, outdoor photographer, http://www.cbennettphoto.com : When I’m out west and tell people I’m from Maine, I often hear people say that they loved Acadia, that it was one of their favorite parks. They see grand mountains all the time; it’s great to have a park in my back yard that is a little different. It may not offer expansive wilderness or huge mountains, but you really get a sense of the raw ocean and the simplicity of life as a fisherman from the smell of the salt air. It’s a completely alien experience for someone in a landlocked state like Wyoming or Colorado.
Jake Wyman, commercial and outdoor photographer, http://www.jakewyman.com: It’s one of my favorite places in the world, for the natural beauty, dramatic coastlines and the places where I can find serenity and quiet.
What is your favorite season / month to visit Acadia, and why?
Jerry Monkman, documentarian, outdoor / conservation photographer, author of The Photographer’s Guide to Acadia National Park, http://archive.ecophotography.com: All of them. Winter for the cross country skiing. Spring for the quiet beauty without the crowds. Summer for the spectacular weather and insane energy. And fall for classic New England foliage.
Wyman: Fall and Winter, for different reasons; The Fall for the clear air, brilliant colors, and fewer people.
What is your favorite trail / hike in Acadia, and why?
Bennett: The short, easy trail to Ship Harbor on the western side of the island is a favorite. Excellent views for a small effort. Anytime I get a chance to get to the western side I do, there are always less crowds. Some of the western carriage roads offer the same solitude, such as the one up and over Parkman Mountain, or the one to the top of Day Mountain. Both are quite a climb by bike but worth the effort. Any trail on Isle Au Haut is worth the effort, you can only get there by ferry or personal watercraft, and there is a sense of raw and wild island life that you don’t get on the big island. Duck Harbor is also the only place to primitive camp in the park.
Monkman: I love doing a loop hike up and over Sargent and Penobscot Mountains near Jordan Pond. Amazing views and lots of blueberries in July.
Winky Lewis, children / lifestyle photographer, http://winkylewisphoto.com: My very favorite trail there is the one up Duck Mountain. It is quick and easy. It was a great trail for my kids when they were younger and now when we hike it my dogs cover the distance about 10 times over because they circle from my kids up ahead and then back to me about a hundred times before I reach the top. There is a wonderful view from the top! So beautiful.
What is something rare you have seen at Acadia?
Monkman: Watching Peregrine falcons dive bombing from Eagle Cliff while I was photographing Somes Sound. They go frighteningly fast.
Bennett: Taking a late evening spring walk along the Jesup Path, I watched an owl feed for several minutes, swooping down into the tall grass from its perches in the trees.
What is your favorite memory in Acadia?
Monkman: Hiking the Bubbles with my kids, eating wild blueberries the entire time, and following it up with tea and popovers at The Jordan Pond House. We’ve done it every year since they were born and even as teenagers it’s what they look forward to most on our trips to the park.
Wyman: Being alone on the top of deserted Cadillac Mountain before sunrise in the middle of February or January.
Lewis: I am lucky enough to have grown up spending time on Mt. Desert Island in the summer, so many of those trails in the park on MDI are full of wonderful memories for me. My friends and I would take off and go on some fun adventures, often ending up at Jordan Pond for popovers. Now, with my own family, I spend time in the summers on Isle Au Haut, of which about half is Acadia.
What keeps you coming back, year after year?
Wyman: Every time that I visit Acadia, I find someplace new.
Monkman: My wife and I have visited every year since 1989 and we just love the combination of dramatic ocean scenery with great hiking up granite domes, paddling in Frenchman Bay, and the ability to choose between dozens of restaurants at dinner.
Do you have any tips for amateur / young photographers on how to get the most out of Acadia?
Bennett: Get up early, go on the shoulder seasons, find someplace off the beaten path to make a compelling picture.
Wyman: Don’t be overwhelmed by the landscapes; there are plenty of beautiful details to be found. Be sure to visit Schoodic and Isle Au Haut. Try to “see” with your own eyes; there are millions of beautiful images which have been made in ANP, but search for your own original vision.
Monkman: Get up early to beat the crowds to the photo hot spots and to take advantage of that sweet Maine coast sunrise light.
To learn more about Acadia National Park and the 2016 Centennial, please visit the Acadia 2016 Centennial website.