A Weekend at Acadia National Park for under $300

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Mr. Saverdink and I just returned from a fantastic long-weekend camping trip at Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island. We love Acadia for a number of reasons and try to visit at least once a year. Luckily for us, it’s only a 4.5-hour drive away. Coupled with the fact that we already own camping gear and sporting equipment, it makes for a very inexpensive vacation away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. On top of the gorgeous scenery and plethora of outdoor activities, the nearby town of Bar Harbor, Maine has a number of quaint stores, ice cream shops and microbreweries. Even though we’ve visited Acadia a number of times over the past decade, there is always something new to do and see.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Our traditional Acadia vacations involve camping with a small group of our outdoorsy friends and partaking in a variety of hiking, biking, kayaking and sightseeing activities over a long weekend. This year was no exception. We arrived at our campground Friday evening, set up camp and attempted to start a campfire with some slightly damp (but free!) firewood. We always camp at one of the public campgrounds, Blackwoods or Seawall, and one of the perks of early season camping is free firewood. Every year the park rangers clean up trees that fell over the winter and are kind enough to leave piles of split wood near the campsites. Yes, it may take a little legwork (and birch bark) if the wood is damp, but that’s part of the fun of camping. Fortunately, I’m married to a pyromaniac who enjoys such challenges.

Our camping companions arrived fairly late on Friday night, but Saturday morning we were all ready for a hearty home-cooked breakfast and a day exploring Acadia. We spent most of the day biking carriage roads in the Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond area, with a mid-day lunch break on the patio at Jordan Pond House. Keeping with our low-cost vacation theme, we brought PB&J, apples and trail mix for lunch. Later that afternoon, our group explored some of the stops along Park Loop Road. That night, we headed back to the campground for a delicious dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, salad and craft brews. Thanks to the aforementioned firewood, we had a roaring campfire that night and toasted up some marshmallows for s’mores. One of my favorite parts of camping 🙂

Biking at Acadia National Park

Sunday was a little sunnier and warmer, so we deemed it a sea kayaking day. We had a fantastic time kayaking the Cranberry Isles and stopped for lunch on one of the rocky beaches. After returning to land late in the afternoon, we hopped on our bikes and rode to Bass Head Lighthouse for some sight-seeing. One of the benefits of biking is that you don’t need to worry about finding a parking spot in the small parking lot 🙂 We rode back to the campground for another home-cooked dinner and campfire, this time with banana boats for dessert. Super easy to make – cut a slit in the banana, shove in some chocolate, wrap it up in tin foil and cook it over the fire for about 10 minutes. The result? Warm, gooey awesomeness!

Sea Kayaking at Acadia National Park

Monday morning we packed up camp and headed to Acadia Mountain for an easy hike with gorgeous views of Somes Sound. At this point, it was almost time to head home, but we took a quick car trip up Cadillac Mountain for one last sight-seeing stop. Sadly, we didn’t have a chance to hang out in Bar Harbor on this particular trip. Ah well, maybe next time. These weekends always seem to fly by too fast.

Hiking at Acadia Mountain

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend exploring the great outdoors and hanging out with friends. Plus, it was low-cost to boot. As I’ve mentioned in the past, we already own a collection of outdoors gear. It took us over a decade to accumulate our pile of camping gear, kayaks and bikes, but it means that we can now enjoy a number of recreational activities without additional cost. Our trip to Maine this past weekend took advantage of that and we spent less than $300 on an action-packed, fun-filled weekend.

4-Day Camping Weekend at Acadia National Park Expenditure Tally:

  • Acadia Park Pass: $25 per vehicle for the week
  • Gas: $90 (driving to/from Acadia and around the park)
  • Campsite: $30/night ($90 total)
  • Firewood: Free (early season perk!)
  • Food: $15-$20 per person per day. We’re big fans of packing a big cooler full of goodies and making most of our meals while camping. Eggs with english muffins in the morning. PB&J, apples and granola bars while biking/hiking/kayaking mid-day. Something to grill in the evening while enjoying a cold beer around the campfire. And let’s not forget s’mores! All in all, it’s only a few dollars per person each meal.
  • An entire weekend’s worth of kayaking, biking, hiking and exploring: Free

Total Cost: $265

Less than $300 for a long weekend at one of New England’s most spectacular recreational areas is certainly a cost-effective vacation and there were opportunities to optimize this trip even more. Carpooling and/or sharing a campsite could cut the two biggest expenses in half and bring the total cost to under $200 for a couple. We always try to bring and cook the majority of our food, which is a huge cost saving. The $7 spent on s’mores supplies, although an unnecessary extravagance, are certainly worth it in my book 🙂 Beers around the campfire are a fraction of the price of their equivalent bar prices. Occasionally we splurge and have dinner at one of the local restaurants (particularly if there is a rainy evening), but there was no need this time around.

Acadia National Park has a ton of free activities that anyone with a pair of sneakers can enjoy – sightseeing in Bar Harbor, exploring the sites along Park Loop Road, driving up Cadillac Mountain, hiking, visiting lighthouses… There’s even a free shuttle service if you want to save on gas (or don’t want to contend for the limited parking spots). If you don’t own bikes or kayaks, bikes can be rented for about $30 per day and several companies offer kayak tours for $50-$60 per person.

We’re very excited that summer is almost upon us and are looking forward to more camping trips over the next few months!

2 comments

  1. LOVE MDI and the entire Maine “downeast.” I’ve spent many, many months in the area – glad to see it being enjoyed by other FIRE pursuers! Great place to pickup some gear in Rockport called Maine Sport Outfitters! 😉

  2. Wow, Superb post shared with us! I am really happy to read your article. I had never gone Acadia National park before. I am really impressed your effective information you were given. I also like estimate budget per day per person. I will try next outdoor trips go there. This post really informative, beneficial, helpful and friendly for who planning and deciding go there.

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