This week’s wintry weather — three weeks after the official start of spring — is expected to delay the opening of roads in Acadia National Park to vehicles.
According to park officials, the persistent chilly weather, including this week’s added snowfall, have done little to break up the ice that has accumulated on the roads this winter. Weather permitting, the park traditionally opens all of its paved roads to vehicle traffic April 15, but this year they are expected to remain closed past the beginning of next week.
“In some locations the ice across the Park Loop Road is at least one foot thick,” Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider said. “We anticipate opening the road to motor vehicles as soon as it is safe to do so. The park is beautiful at this time of year, and people can still use the Park Loop Road for walking and bicycling, being mindful of gates swung across the road and heavy equipment trying to clear ice.”
The park never fully closes in winter, with sections of the Park Loop Road near Sand Beach and Thunder Hole and near Jordan Pond remaining open to cars and trucks through the colder months. Most of the park’s buildings and bathrooms are closed in winter, but visitors can use trails and paths year round — except when the springtime thaw makes carriage paths too soft.
The Hulls Cove Visitor Center, which is being renovated, is not expected to open until late May, park officials added. King Construction Services of Jonesport and Ellsworth has been working in the center through the winter “to create a better arrangement of visitor services and upgraded restrooms,” Acadia officials said. A small orientation theater in the building is being eliminated.
In the meantime, park staff will continue to provide information at the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center at the corner of Main and Cottage streets in downtown Bar Harbor, and will provide additional information services at the Sieur de Monts Nature Center beginning Saturday, April 20, park officials said.
Starting May 1, park passes will be available for purchase at the Thompson Island Information Center on Route 3 near the causeway onto Mount Desert Island and, if the Park Loop Road is open, at the Sand Beach Entrance Station by Schooner Head Road. Park entrance passes, which are required, also can be purchased online.
As weather allows, park staff gradually will open other park facilities — including restrooms, campgrounds and picnic areas — throughout May in preparation for the summer season, park officials said.