Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse


There’s probably no better place in Acadia National Park to watch the sun set, than at Bass Harbor Head.  The southernmost point on Mount Desert Island is graced with the picturesque Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, which is perched on a rocky hillside above the crashing Atlantic Ocean.

After spending a mostly cloudy, and sometimes rainy day on the Carriage Roads of Acadia, I wasn’t expecting a great sunset.  But the clouds started to break up, with an hour or two to go, so I decided to drive over to the western “lobe” of the island.

On arrival, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one with this idea.  With a half-hour to go before sunset, there were already a dozen or more photographers on the rocks below the lighthouse, with tripods positioned to capture every moment of the show.  I had my tripod in the car, but it was such a cheap one, and in such bad shape, I was embarrassed to bring it out.

Tripod or not, you’ll be able to take a great picture here at sunset, so long as the sun shows up.  You don’t have to stay until the very last moment — any picture you take within a half hour of sunset will be good.  However, I was intimidated by all the professional photographers, so I waited.  And why not?  I couldn’t have found a better spot, and the only other choice would have been to drive back to town.

Don’t forget to look in the opposite direction, as well.  Arguably, the light is better in this direction at sunset.  If it wasn’t for that lighthouse, everyone would probably have been looking this way.

As soon as the sun set, and before the glow of twilight began to fade, I hiked back up to the parking lot, and found another short trail that offers a closer look at the lighthouse.

You can’t go inside Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, or climb to the top of the tower, but you can see it close-up from outside.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse was constructed in 1858, and automated in 1974.  Its current lens dates back to 1902, and the light cycles every four seconds (3 seconds on, one second off, with a red light).

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is located off Maine Route 102A, just south of the town of Bass Harbor and the community of Seawall.  From downtown Bar Harbor, take Rte. 233 to Rte. 198 to Rte. 102 south.  The road to the parking lot is for automobiles only. 

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