ROUGHING IT IN ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

We hav had a noticeable increase in the nuber of people roughing it this year.  That is to say, they pitch a tent and sleep for free in the woods, and shop and tour by day.  The rangers do not look kindly on this practice, usually they give you a written warning the first time, then a court date thereafter.  But very few ever get caught.....the reason is the Acadia is unlike any other national park.  Its broken up into many sections, with town and state roads criss crossing throughout it. 
The park hates it, because they can not control all the various entry points people can take to enter the park. 
In fact, the park has but one entrance fee station, located along the ONE WAY SECTION of the park loop road.  Its just before the parks two jewels, SAND BEACH and THUNDER HOLE.  This is why the locals never pay to enjoy the park.  As you pull up to the fee station, right there to the left, almost next to the fee station, is a town road.  Turn left, drive up to the intersection just in front of you, park somewhere on the roadside, and walk down the dead end road at the intersection to the right, at its end, there is a trailer the rangers stay in, to the left, and going straight is a paved path leading to the Beach and thunder Hole.  The Hotels and inns use to give their paying guests a map showing how to see the park for free, as I have just told you, but the rangers convinced them to stop doing it. 
Just beyond Thunder Hole, yet another local road intersects with the park roads, so the locals bypass this one tiny stretch where the fee station is, and get to drive throughout the rest of the park for free.  So how does this help you rough it in Acadia?  There are only so many rangers, far too few to keep an eye on all those public roads that criss cross the park.  And as long as your not entering or exiting the woods waving a flag, no one will pay you any mind.
Basicly you just have to use a little common sense - look and listen before exiting or entering the woods.  And one mistake far too many have made, and why people are this dumb I'll never know, never park your car near where your camping in the woods.  The very first thing a ranger will do is get out and look around that area for any signs of camping activity. 
So rule one is to park your car away from the area your going to be camping in.  Anbd if you have a bike, just take it off the road aways because anything out of place will get a ranger to stop and do a search of the area.

PLACES TO PARK YOUR CAR
Ledgelawn Ave. off of Mount Desert Street is a side street with parking on both sides of the road.  It is also where the largest cluster of apartments are located, as well as churches.  So parking a car or van along this street will bring as little attention to you as possible.  Take your gear, hike up West Street into the park, and stake out a spot.
You can also acxcess another spot by walking up route 233, a little ways past the Kebo Golf course is an old abandoned road, the old
eagle Lake road.  This old road goes uphill until it crosses the park loop road, then continues through the woods until it comes out onto Route 233.  There are several nice places along here to pitch a tent off to the side. 
Another place to park your car is at a place called WONDERLAND  towards Bass Harbor along route 102A.  Wonderland is an old fire road, now used as a trail, that runs through woods and fields until it comes out at a beach.  All along the length of this path are tiny narrow paths that lead off into the woods.  Having lived in that area for three years, I can tell you that is an area people rough it in.  Just make sure you can't be seen from the main trail.
Now if your car is parked in the Wonderland parking lot for more then one night, they will do a walkthrough that next morning looking for any signs of campin activity.  One treick I have noticed people do is to avoid this problem by parking just up the road at the SHIPS HARBOR parking lot.  Leave your car there, and walk back down the road a short ways to the Wonderland trail and find a spot to set up. 
Now heres a neat trick if you have an RV  that I actually saw pulled off this past weekend.  It amazed even me, because over the years I had thought I had seen it all.  I watched as this family drove around town several times, They waited for a local garage to close for the night.  Once it was dark inside and they were pretty certain no one was around, they pulled their RV into the parking lot of the garage, right up by the building, as if it was waiting to be worked on, then got out and headed down the street into town.Real early the next morning they pulled out and headed down the road.  They repeated this trick for three nights, and no one ever checked em out.
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