Snowpack may delay spring openings in Acadia

ANPsnowAcadia National Park photo.

Heavy snowfall in most of Maine this winter, especially along the coast, may result in delayed openings this spring at Acadia National Park, according to park officials.

The park is open year-round, but most facilities and roads are closed in late fall and reopen in April. People can drive along the Ocean Drive section of the Park Loop Road throughout the year, but the vast majority of the park is accessible only by foot during colder months. This winter, cross-country skis and snowshoes have been preferred footwear for winter visitors.

Access to the park this spring could be affected as park officials try to clear roads of snow or wait for the dense snowpack to melt off.

“The Park Loop Road opening may be delayed slightly to give the park time to clear the road, and it’s possible that some sections of the road may open before others,” Keith Johnston, the park’s chief of maintenance, said in a prepared statement. “Because of the excessive ice and snow, the road may not be a safe place to ride bicycles before it opens, as in past years. If you’re out on the loop road before it opens, expect heavy equipment on the road and exercise caution.”

The Visitor’s Center in the Bar Harbor village of Hulls Cove is expected to open on April 15, even if the Park Loop Road isn’t fully open to vehicles.

The length of time it takes for snow and ice to melt away also could affect the gravel carriage roads, park officials added. Normally, the 45 miles of carriage roads in the park are closed between the end of March and the first two weeks of April because of soft conditions that could lead to damage. Closure of the carriage roads may extend further into April this year depending on the freeze/thaw cycle. The schedule for opening paved and carriage roads is entirely dependent on the weather and so could change at any time, they said.

Acadia Superintendent Sheridan Steele said in the statement that, because of the heavy snowfall, park staff have had difficulty finding places to put the snow that they have cleared so far from roads.

“Our advice to all travelers planning to visit Acadia this spring is that they come prepared to experience frozen or very wet conditions,” Steele said. “Bring your snowshoes, skis, and coats to enjoy the snow and fully access the park.”

Johnston added that sewage system repairs at Blackwoods Campground, water will not be available there until May 1.

“Campers, including RV campers, will be able to access part of the campground in April but the bathrooms won’t be open and there will be no dumping station provided,” he said. “Portable toilets and a hand pump for water are located near the open sites. Self-registration is available at the kiosk, and there is no fee until the water is back on.”

Further information is available by calling 207-288-3338 or online at www.nps.gov/acad, where alerts are posted on the homepage. Information also is posted on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice; on Twitter at www.twitter.com/natlparkservice; and on YouTube at youtube.com/nationalparkservice.

Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.