I have not been to New England for Fall Foliage since I left, nearly 25 years ago. My heart has always been in the Tetons - and for good reason. It has it all - color, amazing wildlife...and those glorious pieces of granite. Since we got the dogs though, we have found that we want to be able to spend more time with them on these outings. Not only is it financially much easier on the wallet, because I am not paying for flights - or a hotel, or a car, or having to board critters, but we miss them and worry about them when we are off. The dogs genuinely make everything more fun - even if there are times when it can be more difficult having them (for example, it more or less mandates finding outdoor eating, or for us to be in temperatures where we can leave the dogs in the car). We decided that this year we would spend it here - hopefully being able to enjoy New England's symphony of colors.
Boy was I disappointed when we got up to Maine on the first day of what is historically the beginning of 'sweeps week,' in the North East. Historically, the peak time for NE Fall Foliage corresponds with Columbus Day Weekend. It was GREEN with only traces of color. Unfortunately, it has been extraordinarily wet in the North East. It had also been very warm. Neither of these things are conducive to great color. What's worse is we kept on hearing just how lovely the White Mountains were in New Hampshire.... we almost decided to turn around. Plus, it rained every night. It rained so much that my tent was having water coming in at the seams. Fortunately, my dog, Wyatt, is incredibly fluffy, and I think all that hair was somehow acting as a sponge. OK. That's not really true - BUT, it is funny to think about in my head. What did this mean? Fall Color really moved slowly - and did not peak until we left on the 16th. We had essentially one OK sunrise and one very good sunset the entire time we were there. I wound up working mostly on 'detail photos,' where I was less focused on the entire scene, but on reducing what elements I could into pleasing compositions.
Fortunately, the longer we were there, the better the foliage got. By the time we left, I estimate that the foliage was within 72 hours or so of being at their best...but what we got wasn't too shabby. The best sunset we got was on our last night in the park, on Cadillac Mountain, the most prominent feature in Acadia National Park. Cadillac Mountain really is a landscape photographer's dream. While it is best known for it's amazing first in the nation sunrises, it is just as dramatic at sunset. The panoramic views from the top are like a painter's palette, with the Atlantic Ocean stretching out on one side and the lush greenery of Acadia below and Eagle Lake to the West. Cadillac Mountain isn't just a peak; it's a canvas waiting to be light painted by the lens of an adventurous photographer. OK. That sounds cloying - but it is on the money.
I want to take a moment and rant about the park's permitting system for Cadillac Mountain. First - I am going to start off with a compliment. Cadillac Mountain is SO MUCH NICER since they implemented the permitting system. Now for the negative - the rest of the park has really suffered because of it. In 2022, Acadia was the 5th most visited park in the country (according to The Googles)....but it is also the 16th SMALLEST park in the country. There are just a lot of people for a small amount of land area. Because Cadillac Mountain was the place everyone wanted to be at sunrise and sunset - you really need to pray to the photography gods to get a spot on the mountain during those times (and hand over additional funds over and above your Inter-Agency Pass). Bass Harbor Light is now swamped at sunset. You cannot get there in a vehicle unless you leave really (really) early. The rocks along the Park Road are also packed. The small towns are all packed around Acadia. It has made one of the most intimate parks a really difficult place to visit - and I am fairly creative when we are there. It has resulted in profound damage to the experience of visiting the rest of the park and surrounding area..and I know I said this just a moment ago, but they are charging $6.00 on top of the Inter-agency Annual Pass for the privilege (it is technically 4 dollars with a convenience fee).
While we didn't get any amazing sunrise images, we did get some lovely post sunrise images after we hiked up to the Bubbles, near Jordan Pond to Bubble Rock. What a lovely hike - well worth the short walk. In terms of bang for the buck - it is a just wonderful view - with Jordan Pond to the South and Eagle Lake to the North.
One of the nice things about this group is that we get to meet so many people on our travels. This image, taken of Portland Head Light, was shared with forum member, Mike Winker and his new puppy, Porter.
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