My mistake – Acadia fees, revealed

In my last “1-minute Hike” post, I talked about Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park, and I made a mistake that I have to own up to. And while it’s admirable to admit when you’re wrong, I’m writing this post for another reason than gaining your admiration. I’m writing about my mistake because I think it’s a common misconception. In other words, I think a lot of other people are making the same mistake.

Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, 2012

Here it is: Every person using Acadia National Park is required to pay the entrance fee, regardless of whether he or she passes through the entrance station. 

In my recent “1-minute hike,” I told readers to turn before the entrance station to Sand Beach parking lot if they “wanted to save money” and park in a smaller parking lot, one that I’ve known about for years. You can walk from that parking lot to Sand Beach, and then to Beehive Trail. Technically, you must pay a fee to use the trails of Acadia National Park no matter where you are within the park. If you don’t pass through the entrance fee station, you have to find a place to buy a park pass (in the summer)– so you might as well pass through that station and do it there.

Let’s go over your options.

Entrance fee to Acadia National Park:

  • May 1-June 22, a park pass for one vehicle for seven days, including the day of purchase, is $10.
  • June 23-early October, a park pass for one vehicle for seven days is $20.
  • Early October-Oct. 31, a park pass for one vehicle for seven days is $10.
  • $5 individual entrance pass: good for one individual (pedestrian, motorcycle, bicycle, etc.) for seven days.
  • $40 Acadia annual pass: good for one vehicle for one year from date of purchase.
So it really depends on how often you visit, how many people are in your group and what type of vehicle you’re driving (bike or car).

I honestly wanted to share with blog followers the way I normally enter Sand Beach with my friends, but I didn’t understand the park rules. Even if you ride a bike into the park, you need to pay $5 per person. But if you have a vehicle, you need to pay $10-$20, depending on what time of year it is. I’ve always assumed that the park entrance station was situated at that spot to charge people for using the parking lots past that point. I only realized my mistake after receiving a friendly and respectful e-mail from someone who knows the park entrance fee rules.

Online, you will notice (as I did after I received the e-mail) that the Acadia National Park website states, “Visiting Acadia National Park requires payment of an entrance fee between May 1 and October 31, no matter how you enter or where you go in the park.”

Many places sell Acadia National Park passes, including the Thompson Island Visitor Center (on Route 3 in Trenton), the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, the Blackwoods and Seawall campgrounds and Park Headquarters on Route 233 (which stays open year-round and can serve winter visitors looking to purchase a park pass).

The vast majority of entrance fees are retained at Acadia and used for importance maintenance projects, such as restoring and taking care of the trails and carriage roads. I took part in Take Pride in Acadia Day last fall, and I didn’t just show up for the chili. It was fun (but hard work) raking leaves off the carriage roads and unblocking the gutters. It’s nice to know you’re doing something to help maintain a beautiful place. So, if you’re dismayed about the park entrance fee rules, think about it — you’re helping keep the park clean and beautiful — and the trails passable!



Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at