Be The First To Watch The Country's Sunrise At Acadia National Park

The crown jewel of the North Atlantic coast, Acadia National Park is celebrated for its astonishingly beautiful and diverse natural landscape. You can spend weeks exploring the park's emerald woodlands, rolling mountains, unspoiled wetlands, and untamed coastlines. Acadia National Park's natural attractions welcome around 4 million visitors annually, ranking it as one of the 10th most-visited national parks in the U.S. Fittingly, in America, the sun shines first on the natural wonders held within Acadia.

Watching the sunrises at Acadia National Park should rank high on a national park bucket list. While greeting the day anywhere on the Atlantic Coast is special, Acadia holds the distinction of welcoming the sun before most anywhere else on the East Coast. In fact, from October 7 through March 6, you'll be the first to witness the sunrise in the U.S. from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in the national park. But, whether you choose to watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain or from somewhere a bit more secretive, there are plenty of scenic places to greet the day in Acadia — and plenty to do afterward.

Cadillac is great but be wary of crowds

Since Cadillac Mountain is well-known for offering a vantage point to first see the sunrise, the summit is an incredibly popular spot for day-greeting visitors. We'd normally suggest arriving early to avoid the crowds, but it's the sunrise. Everyone's an early riser. That said, if you don't mind crowds, Cadillac Mountain is an iconic spot for sunshine viewing. Just be warned that during peak season, the morning congestion on Cadillac Mountain Road could cause you to miss the sunrise altogether. If you don't want to risk it, there are plenty of other less-crowded spots to watch it.

Due to Cadillac's popularity, the National Park Service has started suggesting alternative sunrise viewing spots for visitors. This includes Otter Point. Located near Ocean Path on Park Loop Road, Otter Point offers around two miles of roadway and enough parking for uncrowded sunrise viewing. Or, if you'd like to try something truly unique, you may consider watching the sunrise at Thunder Hole, which is only a few minutes from Otter Point. When the winds and tides are just right, the semi-submerged cave on the coastline creates a thunderous sound, giving Thunder Hole its name. If the conditions cooperate, watching the sunrise at Thunder Hole could be a resounding highlight of your Acadia visit. 

Acadia has plenty of sunrise viewing spots

For those who appreciate a more serene sunrise, we'd suggest welcoming the day from either Jordan Pond or Sand Beach. The Jordan Pond Path is an easy hike to make at dusk (or with a headlamp), though we wouldn't recommend the harder Jordan Pond Shore Trail along the rocky coastline in low visibility. Once you arrive, watching the colored-filled skies and surrounding mountains mirror off the pond's still waters during sunrise is pretty incredible.

And if you're a sucker for sunrises while sitting on the beach, Sand Beach is Acadia's best option. Easily accessible from Park Loop Road, Sand Beach is flanked by pink granite walls and tall evergreens, and the beach's colors intensify under the glow of the morning sun. Also, both Jordan Pond and Sand Beach are very popular attractions of Acadia Park. By choosing one of these locations for morning viewing, you can parlay your sunrise experience into exploring the area before the daytime crowds arrive.