Acadia National Park is the northeast’s only national park, encompassing 47,000 acres of granite mountains, marshlands, woodlands and rugged coastline. Located two-thirds up the Maine coast, the park is a three-hour drive from Portland, Maine, and a 4.5-hour drive from Boston. Bar Harbor is a bustling resort town adjacent to the park on Mount Desert Island and is a good base for lodging and meals.
One of the highlights of the park is the 27-mile Loop Road that hugs the wild east coast of the park before heading inland toward Jordan Pond and Cadillac Mountain. Facing east and the rising sun, there are several rocky beaches and granite outcroppings that hold photographic appeal. One such beach that’s no secret to photographers is Boulder Beach, located at the south end of the Loop Road near the Otter Cliff Road junction.
The coastal winter weather along Mount Desert Island is variable, though temperatures are moderated by proximity to the Atlantic. Winter temperatures average 15 degrees Fahrenheit to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The area receives 60 to 90 inches of snow per year, and the winds can howl. Coastal snow may mix with rain and sleet and not last long. I wear waterproof pants and a shell and insulated mountaineering boots with insulated gaiters to keep my feet dry and warm. Micro spikes or crampons may be helpful on the icy surfaces; snowshoes will work best in the deep or drifting snow. A down parka, warm hat, gloves and mittens are essential for comfort and safety.
Photo Experience At Boulder Beach
While there are many cobbled beaches in Acadia that exhibit spherical rocks shaped by glaciation, erosion and the relentless grinding surf, this beach’s proximity to Otter Cliffs makes it unique and a favorite among photographers. It can be quite crowded with visitors in the summer and fall, but I had the place to myself on this frigid morning. Getting unique images meant timing my winter visit to coincide with a storm that brought snow and arctic temperatures. Sea smoke was predicted and almost too plentiful.
Wide-angle lenses work best, as the nearby boulders, cliffs, sky and rising sun can all be in the image. A polarizer will help cut glare on wet surfaces. Tripod use is a must for longer exposures in the dim morning light. I chose to get low and close to the water, and in some cases in the water, to record the wave action and reflected light. I never did get that nice sunrise glow on the rocks, but perhaps something more unique unfolded. The sun found a hole in the sea smoke and blasted through. The sky and a small portion at the fog base was illuminated. Tighter views of rocks and sea would also work well with a mid-range zoom. Night images are also possible from this locale.
While the fall colors of Acadia are enticing, the solitude and wild feel of winter is a winning combination for me. Snow in your images will give them a pristine look. Sunrise and mornings are usually the best time to shoot the eastern shoreline, but fog and afternoon clouds will also give you options. Portions of the Loop Road aren’t plowed during the winter, but Ocean Drive is maintained. Enjoy the quiet and dynamic winter season of Acadia.
Contact: National Park Service, nps.gov/acad.
See more of Harry Lichtman’s work at harrylichtman.com.