Acadia National Park


Acadia National Park
More than 3 million people last year were drawn to Acadia National Park’s rocky shoreline, spruce-fir forests, and towering granite peaks.
John Greim Getty Images

This case study was updated on July 31, 2017, to reflect newly released 2016 data and to correct references to calendar and fiscal year.

Pew created this case study using National Park Service deferred maintenance data issued in fiscal year 2015. The information listed here may no longer reflect the NPS site’s current condition or maintenance requirements. To find the most up-to-date information, please use the National Park Repair Needs tool.


More than 3 million people last year crossed a small causeway linking Maine’s central coast to Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park. They were drawn to its rocky shorelines, spruce-fir forests, and towering granite peaks, including the tallest point on the Atlantic coast. A network of hiking trails and roads cuts through most of the park, giving visitors a chance to spot bald eagles, peregrine falcons, white-tailed deer, moose, and minks. Patches of the sprawling park are also found on the adjacent Schoodic Peninsula and tiny Isle au Haut to the south. While the large crowds, particularly in the summer, are a boon to Bar Harbor and other villages on  the park’s edges, Acadia struggles to keep up with crucial repair needs, which total $68.6 million.

Acadia National Park’s $68 million deferred maintenance list includes needed repairs to historic carriage roads.
David McLain Aurora Photos

Maintenance challenges

Acadia’s maintenance backlog includes critical infrastructure, buildings, and important sites. Acadia’s historic carriage roads are popular with hikers, bikers, and horseback riders, and serve as the primary connection to the park’s interior. About 20 years ago, with assistance from Friends of Acadia, a nonprofit organization, the park restored all but the most popular carriage road: Eagle Lake Loop. The loop has been in such high demand that park officials have resorted to frequent stopgap fixes, and nearly half of it requires extensive maintenance, at a cost of over $2 million. The deferred maintenance for all carriage roads in the park is $8 million.

Built in the mid-1950s and early 1960s, Acadia’s headquarters is also in dire need of repairs and renovations. One-inch-wide cracks between cinderblocks extend from the roof of the maintenance building to its foundation, sending frigid air inside during the winter. Its roof leaks and is caving in, and wooden boards have fallen from   the ceiling. And the park’s administrative office requires a new heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The combined fixes and upgrades will cost about $15  million.

Sieur de Monts, a popular landmark built over a spring, is located within the Cadillac Mountain watershed, an important wetland habitat. The site formerly housed restrooms connected to septic tanks, but testing of nearby water determined that the tanks were leaching and contaminating the watershed. The National Park Service (NPS) redirected the wastewater, but $100,000 is needed to restore the watershed.

And Hulls Cove Visitor Center, at the northern entrance to Mount Desert Island, requires accessibility improvements for visitors using wheelchairs and a new HVAC system, at a cost of $1 million.

The park is responsible for creating Bar Harbor as it is today. The only thing that sets Bar Harbor apart is Acadia.Eben Salvatore, a director for Ocean Properties, which owns hotels in Bar Harbor, in a 2016 interview with the Bangor Daily News1


To address the deferred maintenance needs at Acadia and other NPS sites in Maine and across the country, Congress should:

  • Ensure that infrastructure initiatives include provisions to address park maintenance.
  • Provide dedicated annual federal funding for national park repairs.
  • Enact innovative policy reforms to ensure that deferred maintenance does not escalate.
  • Provide more highway funding for NPS maintenance needs.
  • Create more opportunities for public-private collaboration and donations to help restore park infrastructure.

Acadia National Park Facts

Visitor spending $274.2 million
Jobs created by visitor spending 4,200
Economic output $332.8 million
Labor income $111.1 million
Visits  3,303,393
Deferred maintenance  (fiscal year 2015)
$68.6 million

Sources: National Park Service, “Annual Visitation Report by Years: 2006 to 2016,” accessed Feb. 15, 2017, SSRSReports/National%20Reports/Annual%20Visitation%20By%20Park%20(1979%20-%20Last%20Calendar%20Year); National Park Service, “Visitor Spending Effects,” accessed Aug. 22, 2016,; National Park Service, “NPS Deferred Maintenance Reports,” accessed Aug. 19, 2016,

© 2017 The Pew Charitable Trusts

The Pew Charitable Trusts works alongside the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and other national and local groups to ensure that our national park resources are maintained and protected for future generations to enjoy.


  1. Aislinn Sarnacki, Bill Trotter, and John Holyoke, “How Growing Tourism Could Change Acadia Over the Next 100 Years,” Bangor Daily News, July 14, 2016,
Eagle Lake
Eagle Lake

By Investing in Repairs in Acadia National Park, Congress Could Help Area's Economy

Quick View

Acadia National Park is one of the 10 most popular national parks in the country, recording 3.5 million visits a year, many of whom come for a view from the highest peak on the North Atlantic seaboard. Unfortunately, the national park also has tens of millions of dollars in overdue repairs, issues that are affecting access to some popular spots.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Data Visualization

National Park Deferred Maintenance Needs

Quick View
Data Visualization

National Park Deferred Maintenance Needs

With record crowds contributing to wear and tear and federal funding unreliable, the National Park Service is struggling to keep pace with repairs, estimated at $11.6 billion in fiscal year 2017. Use this tool, based on NPS data, to learn more about deferred maintenance at NPS sites across the county, in your state, and at your favorite park.


Railroad Magnates Philanthropists Helped Launch Our National Parks

Quick View

Railroad Magnates Philanthropists Helped Launch Our National Parks

Since the National Park System’s inception, the private sector has helped to build, expand, and protect our nation’s most cherished places. Here’s a look back at some of the public-private partnerships that helped the national parks get their start.


Let’s Restore America’s National Parks

Quick View

America’s national parks are more popular than ever, but they’re facing serious challenges. Aging infrastructure and decades of underfunding have resulted in a backlog of maintenance repairs that is estimated at nearly $11.3 billion.

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.