Have you ever marveled at the vast amount of information about a park that's dispensed by tour guides and similar people in the travel industry? Acquiring all that knowledge is a big job, but Acadia National Park has compiled one of the most impressive overviews of essential information about a single park that I've found thus far in my travels through official NPS websites. Better yet, they've posted it online for anyone's use.
Here's the park's description of the project:
The Guide's Guide to Acadia National Park was designed to provide accurate information about Acadia National Park to group leaders, educators, bus drivers, tour operators, employees working with park visitors in the service or recreation industry, and concession supervisors. It contains a great deal of information about park facilities, natural and cultural resources, and more.
Curious about wildlife, plants, or cultural resources in the park? Can you see puffins in the park? Where does the term "Downeast" come from? You'll find the answers to those—and plenty of other frequently asked questions—in the Guide's Guide.
If you're interested in natural history, this can be good stuff, even if you never visit Acadia. All of the information isn't park-specific; some of it is applicable anywhere the plant or animal is found. Ever wonder how far can a common loon swim underwater during a single dive? What creatures might you spot in a tidal pool on the Maine coast? You'll find an answer in the Guide.
Not so many years ago, it would take a small library of field guides, textbooks and other printed sources to cover this much material. It still requires plenty of time and effort to locate specific details—and then commit them to memory—before you're ready to claim your "Acadia Tour Guide" badge, but anyone who's interested in details about the park will find a wealth of information on this site.
Individual sections and chapters of the Guide can be downloaded as a number of smaller PDF files, so you don't have to spend the time, or hard drive space, on one huge file. You'll need the ubiquitous (and free) Adobe Reader program to use this information.
The Guide's Guide to Acadia National Park is an excellent example of the potential power of the Internet for education and communication. If you live in a part of the country where some long winter nights are not far ahead, there's plenty of information here to make you a future Acadia expert…or at least a winner in the "Maine" category in a future game of Trivial Pursuit.
You can download the Guide's Guide here. If you're looking for more general information to help plan a visit to Acadia National Park, you'll also find plenty of help in the recent Traveler's Checklist to the park.