403 votes

Bass Harbor Head Light

Acadia National Park, Bass Harbor, Maine USA

Free to Visit
Open Now
Mon 6a-9p
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards
    not Accepted
  • Not Wheelchair
  • Public
  • Outdoor
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“iconic lighthouse in Acadia National Park”

Bass Harbor Head Light is a lighthouse located within Acadia National Park on the southeast corner of Mount Desert Island, Maine, marking the entrance to Bass Harbor and Blue Hill Bay. The history of Bass Harbor Head Light started in 1855 when it was deemed that there was sufficient reason for a lighthouse at the mouth of Bass Harbor. $5000 was appropriated by Congress for its construction in 1858. The construction of a fog bell and tower, which no longer remains today, was completed in 1876 with a much larger 4000 pound (1800 kg) bell being placed inside the tower in 1898. The keeper's house remains in its original configuration with the exception of a 10-foot addition that was added in 1900. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Bass Harbor Head Light Station on January 21, 1988, reference number 87002273. In 1902, an oil storage house constructed of brick was built 205 feet northwest of the lighthouse. Bass Harbor's fifth order Fresnel lens was replaced in 1902 with a larger fourth order. This lens was manufactured by the French company Henry-Lepaute. This lens remains in service today. Today, the house is a private residence for a local Coast Guard member and his family. Tourists can get close to the bell and light via a concrete path, but most of the grounds remain private. There is a short walk which takes you to a series of wooden steps that lead you down onto the many granite boulders that provide a great view of the harbor side of the lighthouse.

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Reviewed by

  • 6 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
January 27, 2018
Rated 5.0

The lighthouse was recently handed over to the National Park Service. The sunsets below the Lighthouse are so beautiful the Kodak Company conducts classes there from time to time during the summer months and it is not unusual to find an artist or two painting along the rocks. You can watch as the Swans Island Ferry enters and exits the harbor and on sunday's you might catch the ship Sunbeam as it passes heading to or from the otter islands to conduct church services.
The park service does not allow people in the area of the lighthouse after sunset. Best way to reach the Bass Harbor Lighthouse by way of the free Island Explorer buses, catch the bus at the Bar Harbor Village green, you want the Tremont/Southwest Harbor bus. Get off the bus at the Bass Harbor Campground stop and at the sharp curve just ahead is a street sign "Lighthouse road" - the lighthouse is about a twenty minute walk down a narrow country road.
The Bass Harbor Campground is a great camping option with affordable prices and a heated pool. They also have cabin rentals.
Not far down the road from the campground is the Ship Harbor Nature Trail and just beyond that is the Wonderland Trail, an old fire road that leads to a beach.
If you want to depart the lighthouse by bike or car, and take a ferry ride to Swans Island, head down the road into the town of bass harbor and look for signs just past the fire department for the turn to the Swans Island ferry. There is an extra charge for bikes or cars on the Ferry or you can park your car and take the trip.
RV's, trailers and buses are not allowed onto the Lighthouse Road because the lighthouse parking lot can not handle them. Also of note, there are two paths at the parking lot, the one to the far right leads to the side of the lighthouse with ocean views. The path by the restrooms to the far left of the parking lot leads to a set of steep wooden stairs to the rocks below. A path leads to some great views of the lighthouse from below.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 3 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
March 24, 2015
Rated 5.0

Cute little place. Hard to get a good picture like the ones above unless you go at low tide and are prepared to hike a pretty rough shore of rocks.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 3 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
October 07, 2014

Fun drive to get to the lighthouse, and a short hike. You can get close, but it is hard to get great photos because there not an easy spot from a distance.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 11 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
September 01, 2014
Rated 5.0

Beatiful rocks, calm place. Loved it

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Big Al

  • 5 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
September 27, 2022
Rated 1.0

Couldn't get anywhere near this lighthouse because of the crowds. Tried three times with no luck.

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Reviewed by

  • 9 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
July 28, 2022
Rated 2.0

Extremely small parking lot. We were queued up down the entry road for quite a while to enter (and we went on a Thursday late afternoon). It is a private residence so you cannot enter the lighthouse. You can't even walk all the way around it. You have to go down 2 separate paths to see both sides.

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Reviewed by

  • 69 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
July 04, 2021
Rated 4.0

Not a very big parking lot for this lighthouse. If it’s a busy day you have to wait in line for a vehicle to leave. I wouldn’t suggest any large van or camper. We went during the afternoon but I could see how the sunsets would be beautiful here.

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Reviewed by

  • 66 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
February 07, 2021
Rated 3.0

At the right time of the day this place probably has some stunning views and photos to be had. During the rest of the day it is average and you'd be better off spending you time elsewhere in the park. Basically come for sunrise or sunset and hope it's not packed.

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Bass Harbor Head Light

Acadia National Park
Bass Harbor, Maine
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Open now until 9:00 pm
  • Sun - Sat: 6:00 am - 9:00 pm

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  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Outdoor Seating
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