UPDATED ON:  May 11 , 2024

Six visits to Acadia National Park and I'm itching to go back again! This rugged gem of the Maine coast has cast a spell on me starting in 1969. And with good reason. From the granite peaks kissing the clouds to the hidden coves whispering secrets of the sea, Acadia is a photographer's paradise. Join me on a stunning visual journey through some of my favorite spots in the park, where every turn unveils a scene begging to be captured.

The photo of the ocean waves crashing onto the rocks above is a common scene throughout Acadia. This is likely the most iconic image representing the area, but there are so many more amazing photo ops in this geologically unique area.

This is the magic of Acadia National Park. During my six visits, I've chased sunrises, braved the elements, and meticulously framed countless compositions. Come explore Acadia through my lens and discover the captivating beauty that awaits you.


Why Acadia? You're likely curious about why I've traveled to the same photo destination, year after year, when there are so many other remarkable spots to photograph in this country, let alone the rest of the world. 

In addition to the historical, unique and quaint town of Bar Harbor, the park's diverse terrain offers something for everyone to photograph (for nature geeks like us). My writing skills will come up short when it comes to describing the beauty, so I'll do my best to inspire you with some of my favorite photos that I've done at Acadia over the last decade.

3 dimensional map of MDI mountainsMound Desert Island in Acadia National Park
3-dimensional illustration of the small but unique mountains

Acadia offers various landscapes, seascape, lakes, waterfalls, and wildlife photo opportunities, including the rugged coastline, lush forests, wetlands granite mountains, majestic harbors, and tranquil lakes.

You can explore the Island of Mount Desert by car on regular roads, by bike on the carriage roads or on foot along the many paths and miles and miles of easy, moderate or challenging hiking trails. Did I mention how much I love coming here?

Acadia National Park Travel Photography Gallery

I formed a bond with the magic of Acadia National Park before I turned 11 years old. Now, I make the drive each year, almost 600 miles from my home, to enjoy and try to capture its grandeur with my photographs. I share this gallery of Acadia photos with you in the hopes that you can experience the magic as well. Enjoy the show!

I came across the breathtaking sunrise above on my way to one of the dozens of great hiking tails on Mount Desert Island and felt compelled to stop and photograph it.  I had visited and taken photographs at this  location in Southwest Harbor several times over the years, but never with such amazing lighting.

Acadia Photographs Video

Here's a chance for you to immerse yourself in a relaxing 6 minute video revealing Acadia images taken over the last ten years. It's your opportunity to escape to this magical place without leaving your chair.

Best Time of Year To Photograph Acadia

The most popular times to photograph Acadia are when the weather is pleasant, but that's not always the best time in terms of getting the best photos.The rocks and the ocean are very constant in their stunning appearance, but the vegetation and lighting conditions vary with the season.

WINTER. Acadia averages about 60 inches of snow each year. Being right on the coast, the snow does not last a long time on Acadia. A big advantage of shooting your Acadia travel photos in the winter is the you'll have no traffic jams or parking challenges to deal with. Here's a complete post on winter travel to Acadia.

SPRING. Spring is the time of rebirth and photographing the new growth of vegetation and the increased activity of wildlife make Spring an appealing time to photograph Acadia. You'll have more opportunity to photograph the pastel colors of Spring.

SUMMER. The weather is very pleasant in the summer and it's the most popular time for the average tourist to take photos in the park and surrounding areas. I recommend you include exploring the western half of Mount Desert Island for photos. You'll avoid the crowds and parking nightmares of traveling the Park Loop Road in the summer.

FALL. For me, shooting Acadia in the Fall provides the most appealing situations for photography. The pallet of both saturated and subtle colors that Mount Desert Island presents for you to capture with your cameras is extensive. You will deal with the visiting population of leaf peepers, but you can still avoid the crowds if you start your day of photography early and end it late as well.

Best Time of Day To Photograph Acadia

In the case of Acadia, the scenery is so good that you can get great photos at anytime of day. With that said, the "golden hour" around sunrise and sunset have long been favored by nature and landscape photographers.

Sunrise and sunset lighting often have amazing saturated colors, often create fascinating shadows and textures in your subject. Many photographers will shoot sunrises on the east side of Mount Desert Island and shoot sunsets on the west side of the island.

The best time to photograph wildlife on Mount Desert Island, like the deer below, is around dawn and dusk.

Deer on Mount Desert Island, MainePhotographed this deer at my campsite
On Hall Quarry Road

Usually a mix of clear sky and clouds will give you the best photos of Acadia. Photographing the oceans and lakes during the day, when the sun is up high and behind you, will give you the bluest colors in the water.

Shooting Acadia At Night

Night time photography in Acadia has some great potential too. Along the coastline the amount of light pollution is minimal.

Whether you photograph the "Big Dipper" the "Milk Way" or a wide view of the stars along the coast, you can get some great shots a few hours after sunset when the sky gets its darkest. You'll need to use a sturdy tripod for the long exposures

For more information of stargazing and nighttime photography at Acadia, see this post.

The Colors of Acadia

When I travel to Acadia and Mount Desert Island, I spend very little time in the town of Bar harbor, but couldn't resist taking the photo of the Rt. 66 Restaurant  entrance.

Most of my photos are of the natural world when I travel, but no photo gallery of coastal Maine is complete without a photo of lobster buoys.

Downtown Bar HarborRoute 66 Restaurant - Bar Harbor
21 Cottage St. Bar Harbor

Lobster BuoysLobster Buoys
29 Steamboat Wharf Rd, Bernard, Maine

Best Lens For Shooting Acadia

What is the best lens for Acadia National Park? You need the flexibility of having different focal length lenses available in order to capture all of the beauty of Maine.  You can carry 3 different lenses or get a single lens that gives you all three of the following abilities

  1. WIDE ANGLE. I recommend at least as wide as 24mm with a full frame sensor camera or 18mm with a crop sensor camera. For super wide scenic compositions you'll need wider angles, such as 16mm for full frame and 11mm for crop sensors.
  2. TELEPHOTO. Although Acadia has some wildlife photography opportunities, it's unlikely the main subject you;re seeking to photograph during your travels to the area. Despite the fact that you're in Maine, you won't see any moose or bear. Deer, squirrels, and sea birds are plentiful. I recommend at least a 200mm for full frame camera and 150mm for crop cameras.
  3. MACRO. You don't need a true dedicated macro lens, but a close-focusing lens will be handy to shoot beautiful close ups.

If you visit Acadia and specifically Mount Desert Island a few times, you're bound to witness one of the surreal scenes of Acadia.  (See the photo below.) Occasionally, a thick early morning fog will roll in off the Atlantic Ocean.  Only the small mounds of the Schoodic Peninsula poke through the blanket of clouds on the distant horizon .

You'll get to see this fascinating view above the fog by hiking up one of the smaller mountains on the east side of MDI (Gorham or Champlain), or by getting to the top of the largest mountain, Cadillac Mountain.

Less Common Photo Ops In Acadia

If you want to up your game when it comes to photographing Acadia National Park, you should consider traveling to the lesser known locations for good photos. Beech Mountain is less than 1,000 feet in elevation so it's not too tough of a climb to get some awesome views, including this one of Long Pond.

Although the lighting wasn't perfect for this image, it's still a great photo for me to remember this enjoyable hike up Beech Mountain and the view of Long Pond from up high above it.

Another overlooked photo op in Acadia is the marshes. I enjoy the seemingly random ways that the grasses and waterways form and shape themselves. Although they pale in comparison to the highly saturated fall colors, you can still marvel at the way the subtle colors of the marsh that give you a visually interesting subject to photograph.

The photo above, of a marsh area on the west side of MDI, was taken as the last remnants of the morning fog lifted. I tired to capture the peacefulness of the scene before me.

No photo excursion to Acadia is complete without at least one photo of one of the many arch bridges on the carriage roads. The easiest one to access-and it's great to photograph-is Duck Brook Bridge. Just turn onto Duck Brook Rd. off of R. 233 (Eagle Lake Rd.) and drive to the end.

Popular Photography Locations in Acadia

Once of the best aspects of photographing the landmarks on Mount Desert Island and Acadia is that there are easily accessed well-known photo hot spots as well as limitless vantage points available to shoot.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse

The Bass Harbor lighthouse is a perfect subject to photograph. I took the photo below by bushwhacking through a thorny thicket to get a vantage point that is unique from all of the others, the south.

Bass Harbor LighthouseBass Harbor Lighthouse
(From the opposite side you normally see)

There are several interesting vantage points you can take to photograph Duck Brook Bridge. You can shoot the waterfall from the top, shoot through the middle arch from either side, or shoot from an angle like I did. I wanted to include the impressive stone steps leading into the composition as well as frame in the bridge itself with the beautiful fall foliage.

I hope you enjoy this guide and small photo gallery of Acadia National Park photography. Please help me share the magic of Acadia. Share this page using one of the share buttons at the end of this article, pin a photo to Pinterest, or post the URL address.

Closing Thoughts

Bubble Rock SelfieTrying to move "Bubble Rock"
Selfie, shot with a tripod

Although I fell in love with the rock shoreline of Acadia when I was only 10 years old, it wasn't until I was in my 50s that I decided to travel to Acadia specifically to photograph it in 2013. Taking regular breaks from portrait photography to shoot the grandeur of nature is just what the doctor ordered. 

Hopefully this post will inspire you not to wait and  give your cameras a good workout at this amazing place in the near future.

Acadia selfie with fall colors

Bruce Lovelace is the publisher of TravelingPhotographer.com. Bruce ran a portrait photography for many years. Now he shoots travel photography.  Read more about him on the About Page. He also publishes how to articles and camera gear reviews at the  Photography Tips and Canon Geek websites.

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Additional Resources For Photographing Acadia

Book: Guide To Photographing Acadia