Reader Participation Day: Acadia National Park, or Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Would you head first to Acadia National Park, or Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Top photo, Acadia's Jordon Pond, bottom photo, Great Smoky's Newfound Gap awash in fall colors. NPS photos.

Glance at a map of the Eastern Seaboard and a number of intriguing national parks jump out: Acadia National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Everglades National Park.

But which one to visit? If you had to choose between Acadia and Great Smoky, which of the two would top your list?

Is this a mismatch from the get-go? After all, Great Smoky is more than 10 times larger than Acadia -- some 520,000 acres vs. 35,000.

Still, the park anchored in the Atlantic on Maine's Mount Desert Island offers a wonderfully unique experience, blending rocky sea coasts and pine-covered granite mountains, sea kayaking and fresh-water canoeing, lobsters and popovers.

Great Smoky, of course, has its own distinct personality of mountains, long-distance hikes, hard-wood coves, leaping streams and brooks, and Appalachian lore.

What say ye, travelers?


I prefer Acadia. We spent a wedding anniversary there in May several years ago. I love the New England feel and the rich history of Bar Harbor. I would like to go back sometime.

I have not been to either, but Acadia is on the top of my list to visit! I can't wait to go!

Acadia for a more "complete", dramatic national park experience, however if I am wanting a more "wild" experience, with strenuous hiking, it would be GSM.

Been to both - Acadia hands down year round, IMHO

I love them both, but if I could only choose one it would have to be Great Smoky Mountains. Being on a trail in those mountains and hearing one of the thousands of streams just gets into your soul. Acadia is beautiful and fun, and I want to go back, but there's just something about the Smokies.

Since I work in GRSM I'd have to say Acadia. I've never been that far North and have heard amazing things about Acadia. I'm a big fan of open granite and being on the water in a boat, something you don't really get either of in the Smokies.

Acadia. No question about it. In the Smokies the people are a lot more concentrated - there aren't that many roads so everyone has to stay on the few that exist. And there are TONS of people. We were there right after Christmas last year and there were tons of people everywhere you went. We sat in traffic for hours on the Cades Cove Loop Road. Another reason NOT to go to the Smokies - Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Seiverville. OMG. It's just gets tackier and tackier. Of course that's why all the people are there! LOL! Fine by me, they can have GSMNP - Sheanandoah is similar in scenery and despite being so close to DC not nearly as crowded!

I have been to both and love both of them but if I had to choose, I would choose Acadia. In fact it is one of my favorite of all National Parks. Why? Because it is small. It feels to me like a more personal and intimate experience. You can really get to know the park more easily than is some of the larger parks.

I love GRSM because I'm originally from the Appalachians, but I've never been to Acadia and would love to go. That is going to be my big vacation in 2 or 3 years.

Acadia. Was just there last September, what a great place. Camping was great, we had the place to ourselves. And town--Bar Harbor- is only 10 minutes away. Love the beauty and the remoteness of it.

I live close the GSMNP and have only been to Acadia once. It's hard to say which is a better park. They are different and each one has positives and negatives. GSMNP has the mountains, an immense variety of flora and fauna, rivers, streams and waterfalls. Spring time in GSMNP is amazing! Acadia has the rocky shore, the carriage trails, great views from the top of mountains and hills. Fall in Acadia is beautiful. GSMNP also has crowds and traffic jams, especially Cades Cove. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge draw a lot of people but can ruin the national park experience if you have to drive through or near them. Of course, the cruise ships bring the Gatlinburg crowds to Acadia and drop them off all at once in Bar Harbor.

They are both worth visiting. Just be smart about when you visit and where you go within the parks.

Acadia. Far too much country music near the Smokies. ;-)

I have been to and enjoyed both. I would go back to Acadia simply because it is far less crowded. I love GSMNP but the continual traffic jam really sucks the soul out of it.

I live 30 minutes from GSM. We visited Acadia two springs ago. Both have their advantages. My problem with GSM is the traffic mess. Hiking at both parks is tremendous. Watching sunrise from the mountaintop at Acadia will never be forgotten. My overall vote is Acadia.

My two cents is for Acadia. While I have been to both, and enjoyed them each immensely, there was just something beyond words about my experience in Acadia that makes me want to return on a more regular basis. My only nitpick about my time there was on my drive to and from the Park---the consistently repeated phenomenon that the double yellow on the highway was a mere suggestion---that it was somehow absurd to stay in your own lane and not make oncoming traffic swerve to avoid you. Has anyone else encountered this and can you shed some light as to why?

I went to Accadia in Juner 2012, it was absolutely amazing. The place was so bueatiful that it makes me want to fall in love. All those drives into the park, especially Cadillac Mountain. I stayed for 3 nights (4 days) and there wasn't a day i didn't go to Cadillac Mountain. I personally love hiking but didn't go coz I had a couple friends who preffered not to go hike. I stayed in Bar Harbour and it's like an old European styple town, absolutely love it.

I am planning a trip to Smokies next month. I have heard a lot about it. Hopefully, its as good as Accadia.

I would reccomend every one who visit on this page to check out Accadia. Trust me you won't get disappointed.