Acadia N.P. Bass Harbor Lighthouse

Milky Way Photography Location

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Acadia National Park

Known as Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Bass Harbor Lighthouse was built in 1858, automated in 1974, and is located at the south end of Mount Desert Island, inside Acadia National Park.

The island’s Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is among the most recognized and photographed lighthouses in the United States. There is a lack of parking at sunset, so go early. With an annual population of 180,000 visitors, Bass Harbor Head Light is the most visited site on the western portion of Mount Desert Island. It is the fifth busiest site within Acadia National Park, trailing only Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, Sandy Beach, and Thunder Hole. Among about 80 lighthouses throughout Maine, Bass Harbor Head Light Station is one of only three operated by Acadia National Park, including the two others on Baker Island and Bear Island.

Acadia National Park, Bass Harbor Lighthouse Pamela Goodyer

The lighthouse is said to be the fifth-most-visited site in Acadia National Park, but its parking lot holds just about two dozen vehicles. The lighthouse is located directly at the rim of a cliff, so the only views you can get from the parking lot level are side views. Furthermore, you are so close to the structure that taking a decent picture without a super-wide-angle lens is impossible. Unless you did what we did and climbed down the rocks to get the shot, it is not easy to get down on these rocks and quite dangerous.

Back in the parking lot, you can also go to your right (west) and stand directly beside the lighthouse and Bass Harbor Head Bell; obey any posted signs. To view the light, walk down a gravel path from the eastern edge of the Lighthouse parking lot, following a fence line through the woods, toward the wooden platform. You can get some shots from the platform without going down on the rock, but the view from the rocks is much better. Our picture with the sun’s glare is from the rocks.

This also provides an excellent up-close look at the towers of the lighthouse, which are visible only from the outside; this takes you close by to the lighthouse tower and viewing area, where you will get an excellent viewing position for panoramic views of the harbor and islands out in the distance.