Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park attracts visitors with its beautiful, scenic cliffside location that is right on the glistening Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse towers over the cliffs, providing a shining light for miles across the water.
Offering gorgeous photo opportunities and stunning views, the Bass Harbor Head Light Station is not to be missed on a trip to Maine.
About Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
One of the most visited destinations to the west of Mount Desert Island, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a major attraction in Acadia National Park. The light can be seen for 13 nautical miles in the distance.
The lighthouse is 32 feet tall and the light itself is 56 feet above the water on the cliffside. The United States Coast Guard operates and maintains the lighthouse with a U.S. Coast Guard family residing in the lighthouse dwelling.
The entire Light Station complex includes a lighthouse, a keeper’s dwelling, a bell house, an oil house, and a barn.
Light Station History
In 1858, Congress provided funds to construct Bass Harbor Head Light Station because there was no lighthouse on the Bass Harbor side of Mount Desert Island to guide seafarers.
The lighthouse became an instant attraction for its classic mid-19th-century architecture. The tower signified the importance of the maritime industry in Maine.
The lighthouse’s fourth-order Fresnel lens lantern was installed in 1901. The lantern has since been replaced with a red LED light, and it was automated in 1974. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Things to Know Before Visiting
- The Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a very popular destination, so be prepared for potential traffic and crowds. The parking lot is small with under 35 spaces, so wait times for a space can be substantial during peak visiting hours.
- The lighthouse is home to a U.S. Coast Guard family, so visitors can only view the outside of the lighthouse.
- Steep cliffs and rocky ground can make the terrain tough for young children, senior citizens, and those with mobility issues to walk around.
- Leashed dogs are welcome.
Things to Do at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
A visit to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is the perfect way to connect with nature and enjoy its beauty. When visiting, think simply and bask in the calmness of Acadia National Park’s trees, trails, rocks, and natural surroundings. Here are a few popular things to do while visiting the lighthouse.
Picnic in the Park
Park visitors are welcome to bring food and enjoy a picnic in the park. While there is limited seating, many people just find a large rock and picnic cliffside while overlooking the water.
This picnicking location is ideal for adults and older children. Families with younger children may want to consider picnicking on the grass or from the back of their vehicles.
Bring Binoculars to Bird Watch
The hike to the lighthouse is a short distance from the public parking area. Along the way, you will see several birds flying overhead, in the trees, and perching on the rocks. This is the perfect place to take out the binoculars and marvel at the natural beauty of the park and the birds that live there.
Take in the Stunning Views
People love to capture the beauty of nature at Bass Harbor Head by taking a lot of photos. Bring your camera or a phone to take some selfies and pictures of the lighthouse, the cliffs and rocks, and the park.
Find a nice spot on the cliffside, and take in the amazing water views, lobster boats, and fishing boats. Some of the most stunning views occur right around sunset.
Restaurants Near Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Hiking and exploring around Bass Harbor Head is sure to build up an appetite. Luckily, there are many delicious dining options close by. Here are a few places to check out when you’re in the area.
Thurston’s is a family-run, local favorite seafood restaurant that is open seasonally from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October. The dining room is located on a dock over a bay, giving patrons a beautiful view and experience while dining.
Depending on the time of day, visitors may catch a glimpse of lobster boats and crew coming and going with the catch of the day.
The menu has family favorites like burgers, BLTs, grilled cheese, and hot dogs. Of course, no trip to Maine is complete without some fresh local seafood, and you’ll find lobster, clams, mussels, and chowder on the menu.
The Colonel’s Restaurant and Bakery has been in business for over 30 years, so it’s popular with locals and visitors alike.
The restaurant has a great kid’s menu for smaller appetites, including chicken fingers, burgers, fish ‘n chips, and mac & cheese.
For adults, local clam, shrimp, lobster, and fish dishes are all served in hearty portions. For those wanting something non-seafood, check out the 10-inch personal pizzas, burgers, and mouthwatering sandwiches.
MDI Lobster Co is a wonderful restaurant to visit if you’re looking for a taste of Maine favorites. Lobster, chowder, mussels, haddock, shrimp, and whoopie pies for dessert are all served in generous portions.
Other popular dishes include burgers, barbecue ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and a slice of pie. You get to enjoy a meal with gorgeous views of both the ocean and mountains too.
Lodging Near Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a simple back-to-nature camping experience, or a clean and affordable hotel, there are plenty of lodging choices in the Bass Harbor area. Check out these places for their great locations and affordable options.
The views at Ann’s Point Inn can’t be beaten because this boutique inn sits on a peninsula in Bass Harbor. The inn is situated on 2 acres of waterfront and provides direct harbor access for guests.
The rooms are romantic and spacious, offering plenty of windows to enjoy the view from the privacy of your room. The inn has all of the modern conveniences visitors will need to enjoy their stay, including Wi-Fi, complimentary coffee, a gym, and DVDs to borrow.
Those looking to connect with nature during their trips to Bass Harbor will love the Quietside Campground & Cabins. The campground has spacious sites that offer privacy from other campers. It doesn’t run activities and noisy events so that visitors can enjoy a peaceful nature retreat.
There are 37 sites for cabins, RVs, and tents. Bathhouses, picnic tables, and fire pits are available, making this campground perfect for a traditional, simple camping experience rather than glamping and resorts.
For those looking for a quaint, family-run motel, Seawall Motel rests at the entrance to Acadia National Park just 3 miles from Southwest Harbor. The motel offers clean and comfortable rooms and breakfast every morning.
The traditional rooms have queen or king beds. Waterfront condo suites are also available for those looking for more space and amenities.
FAQs About Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Is there parking at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse?
Parking at Bass Harbor Head Light Station is limited to a small public lot located on Lighthouse Road. Roadside parking is prohibited.
Can I tour the inside of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse?
No. Unfortunately, visitors can only view the exterior of Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse.
Are there restrooms at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse?
Yes, there are restrooms available near the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse parking lot.
How much does it cost to visit Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse?
There is no fee to visit the Bass Harbor Head Light Station.
What should I wear to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse?
Be sure to check the local weather forecast prior to visiting Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. It’s advised to dress in layers because there can be a breeze coming off of the water. Bring grippy, rubber-soled boots or sneakers if you plan to explore the rocks.
Is Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse open year-round?
Yes, the Bass Harbor Head Light Station is open year-round from morning to sunset.
Plan Your Trip to Bass Harbor Head Light Station
A trip to Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is most popular in the spring, summer, and early fall, but it is a beautiful destination any time of year.
Whether you’re looking to connect with nature, take gorgeous photos, or simply pass through on your way to hiking Acadia National Park, Bass Harbor is the perfect place to relax and unwind from the hustle and bustle of modern life.