ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Curious what the top of Cadillac Mountain might be like when it is not covered with snow and doesn’t have cars, trucks and tour buses motoring through the parking lot?
This weekend, you will have a chance to find out.
On Saturday, May 16, up until noon, private motorized vehicles will not be permitted on Cadillac Mountain or anywhere else along the park’s roads, so visitors can use them without having to face the sound of engines and smell of exhaust.
Park entrance fees also will be waived until noon.
According to park officials, walkers, bicyclists, skateboarders and inline skaters will be able to use the Park Loop Road on Saturday morning. People using wheeled transportation will have to observe the one-way restriction on the Park Loop Road where applicable.
“We are excited to offer a way for visitors to enjoy a carefree, car-free experience on the Park Loop Road during our shoulder seasons and look forward to working with the neighboring communities to make it a success,” ANP Superintendent Sheridan Steele said in a prepared statement.
According to John Kelly, Acadia’s park planner, there has a been a strong response from park visitors about having non-winter days when motorized vehicles are not allowed inside the park.
Sometimes it happens as a byproduct of other events, such as during the 16-day federal government shutdown in October 2013 or as a result of sequestration-related budget cuts earlier that year, Kelly said. But on this and other occasions, the short-term vehicle ban has been deliberate.
“We got a lot of positive feedback, which is spurring us to do this now,” Kelly said of prior instances in the spring or fall when park roads have been closed to vehicles.
Not only do visitors enjoy the relative quiet without the motor vehicles, he said, but it gives park officials the chance to evaluate the effects of restricting traffic. The short-term ban provides the park with concrete information it can use as it develops a long-term transportation plan for Acadia.
The purpose of the transportation plan, according to park officials, is to determine how best to provide safe and efficient transportation while ensuring the protection of park resources and values. Several management options will be comprehensively examined as Acadia officials seek to improve safety on park roads and to reduce crowding and congestion at key visitor destinations and travel corridors, park officials have said.
“We want to get ahead of [the issue],” Kelly said of developing such a plan over the next several years.
Acadia also is planning a car-free morning on Sept. 26, 2015, and to waive entrance fees for that entire day, in conjunction with National Public Lands Day.
Aside from the car-free morning this Saturday, other seasonal access restrictions in Acadia are in effect.
Trails on the east side of Champlain Mountain, at Valley Cove and at Jordan Cliffs all are closed due to mating behavior exhibited by endangered peregrine falcons. Gravel carriage roads, which are closed every spring as melting snow and ice make them too soft to use, currently are open to walkers only.