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Project Profile: Acadia National Park Historic Carriage Roads, Bar Harbor, Maine

Woman and man walk along gravel carriage road under fall colors.

The Acadia National Park was established in 1916 and annually welcomes approximately 3.5 million people.

Source: Credit to National Park Service

Project Name Acadia National Park
Location Bar Harbor, Maine
Project Sponsor / Borrower The National Park Service
Program Areas Public-Private Partnerships Project Finance Value Capture
Value Capture Techniques Private Contribution, Friends of Acadia endowment fund, & Volunteers
Mode National Park Road and Bridge

Acadia National park in Maine encompasses 49,052 acres in three main areas. The largest is located on Mount Desert Island, an island that is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Next, is an approximate 2,366-acre tract of land to the Northeast on the mainland at Schoodic Peninsula. Thirdly, to the Southwest and accessible only by boat, is Isle Au Haut, the least-visited unit of the park. Baker Island and Bar Island also have National Park land. Because the park is not self-contained, there is no official entrance other than a pay station on the scenic Park Loop Road on Mount Desert Island. However, there is still a fee to use any of the federal parking areas and to drive the loop road, so visitors need to purchase an entrance pass.

Acadia is one of the top 10 visited national parks and it includes 158 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads, 27 miles of historic motor roads, 26 mountains, and 26 lakes or ponds. The park, which receives over 3.5 million visitors a year, supports over 1100 vascular plant species. It offers hiking, biking, camping, and scenic views.

The carriage roads and stone bridges in Acadia National Park were financed and directed by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., between 1913 and 1940, for hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and carriages. The network includes 57 miles of woodland roads free of motor vehicles that allow seasonal cross-country skiing and limited snowmobiling.

Acadia's carriage roads are the nation's best example of the broken-stone roads commonly used at the turn of the 20th century. They are true roads, approximately 16 feet wide, constructed with methods that required hand labor. Engineered to contend with Maine's wet weather, stone culverts, wide ditches, three layers of rock, and a substantial six- to eight-inch crown ensured good drainage. Rather than flattening hillsides to accommodate the roads, breast walls and retaining walls were built to preserve the line of hillsides and save trees. Rockefeller aligned the roads to follow the contours of the land and to take advantage of scenic views. He graded them so they were not too steep or too sharply curved for horse-drawn carriages.


This national park is unusual because it was neither carved out of public lands nor bought with public funds. It was envisioned and donated through the efforts of private citizens. The Carriage Roads and stone bridges in Acadia National Park were financed and directed by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., between 1913 and 1940, for hikers, bikers, horseback riders and carriages.

Funding Sources
  • Acadia Trails Forever
  • Park user fees and Federal contributions
  • Friends of Acadia
  • John D. Rockefeller Jr.
Project Delivery / Contract Method Design-Bid-Build
Private Partner John D. Rockefeller Jr.
Project Advisors / Consultants N/A
Lenders N/A
Duration / Status

Lobbied by park champion George B. Dorr, President Wilson establishes Acadia's precursor, Sieur de Monts National Monument.

Renamed Lafayette National Park in 1919, Acadia National Park is awarded its final moniker by Congress.

Local residents establish conservation nonprofit Friends of Acadia, dedicated to volunteer work and ongoing stewardship.

Acadia marks its centennial with a year of special events and programs.

Financial Status/Financial Performance

Every American who pays Federal income taxes contributes to the national parks budget, as the Federal government foots the bill for the National Park Service. The national park budget is separated into two categories: discretionary and mandatory funds. Each year, the NPS submits a budget proposal that gets wrapped into the budget for the Department of the Interior and the Executive Branch as a whole. That proposed budget then goes to Congress for review.

A fee is required to visit any part of the Acadia National Park. The $30-per-vehicle fee is good for a seven-day pass. An annual Acadia Park Pass costs $55 and is good for a year. Fees for visitors on a motorcycle are $25, $15 for those on foot or bicycle, and $15 per person for vehicles with 16 or more passengers.

  • Acadia National Park contains the tallest mountains on the eastern seaboard of the United States with Cadillac Mountain at its apex. From these summits, visitors experience panoramic views of the Acadia archipelago and the surrounding mountains, forests, meadows, lakes, and shorelines.
  • Acadia National Park was the first national park created from private lands gifted to the public through the efforts of conservation-minded citizens. These efforts led to Acadia's establishment as the first national park in the eastern United States, which contributed to the creation and development of the land conservation movement.
  • A former US Navy base on the peninsula has been converted to the Schoodic Education and Research Center.
  • Through its Schoodic Education Adventure (SEA) Program, Acadia National Park staff provides curriculum-based classroom activities and hands-on field experience. The unique public-private partnership between the SERC Institute and Acadia National Park enables the two organizations to work together to bring researchers, educators, and students to the park to use the park's diverse ecosystems as classrooms and to conduct field research.
  • Acadia National Park is one of more than 200 sites nationwide that participates in the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP), a long-term program to determine the chemical composition of atmospheric precipitation (rain and snow), and the spatial and temporal trends of deposition.
Related Links / Articles
Contact Sally Mayberry
(928) 638-7888

Trees with wooden signposts.

The wooden signpost with the place names on Carriage Road, Bar Harbor, Maine for Bicycling, Horseback Riding, Hiking, and the Winter Activities (cross-country skiing or snowshoeing)

Source: Credit to National Park Service, Friends of Acadia, NPS

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