RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Acadia: The Complete Guide, by James Kaiser

Acadia: The Complete Guide
What sets this new book apart from other books about Acadia National Park is, without question, the amazing photographs that author James Kaiser has included in Acadia: The Complete Guide. If the book had been printed in a larger size and hard-bound, it could easily have been a "coffee table book." There are over 150 absolutely gorgeous color photographs depicting the flora, fauna, and astounding scenic views found in and around Mount Desert Island and the Acadia National Park in Maine. The presentation of the material, the design of the book's cover (both front and back include half-fold sections that can serve as book-marks) and the wonderfully clear and easy-to-use maps are first-rate and make this guide an armchair adventurer's best introduction to the area.

Since the focus of this Web site is road trips, we pay special attention to guide books that can be used by roadtrippers. Although I really liked this book and enjoyed reading it immensely, it does have one drawback. The author chose not to include any lodging recommendations, even though his coverage about various camping options is the best I have seen for the area. Instead, he suggests that readers look on his Web site for lodging suggestions.

Although the site provides listings in Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and Southwest Harbor as well as for the Schoodic Peninsula and Isle au Haut, it would be more useful for travelers if these were in the book. Hopefully the author will add them in future editions, along with the same kind of excellent description he includes about camping, dining, and entertainment options.

Champlain Mountain
Champlain Mountain on Mount Desert Island

Sea kayacking
Sea kayacking on the Acadian coast

All of that aside, this book is a jewel. I really liked Kaiser's explanation about the vagaries of the weather in Acadia and his recommendation that all visitors ignore any weather forecast they may have heard and always pack for hot, cold, and rainy weather on every outing. He has put together some "perfect day excursions" for sunny days, rainy days, and for those who are in top physical condition. The section on ecology in the region is the best I have ever read, and the photographs of local wildlife are simply awesome. In particular, the images of the bald eagle, two raccoons and the Atlantic puffin are really memorable.

The one section of the book I liked the best was the author's coverage of the various hikes that are available. The photo and description of the Precipice Trail on the east face of Champlain Mountain is still increasing my pulse rate as I write this article! One day I'd love to take the Acadia Mountain hike with its 581-foot elevation change and breathtaking views of Somes Sound. After a hard day of hiking, sea kayaking, or just plain wandering, the author's recommendations for night life entertainment in Bar Harbor should be pretty appealing to those who find themselves in the area.

For roadtrippers, the description of the Park Loop Road is quite good, and the author blends in just enough historical background to bring this famous 27-mile scenic road into sharp focus for current travelers. Beyond the aforementioned gorgeous photography, readers will enjoy this book because it provides a glimpse into the lesser known worlds of the island towns and offshore islands near Acadia National Park as well as some of the most popular tourist destinations in Maine.

Mark Sedenquist

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