Adventures in Photography: Rockefeller's Carriage Roads

by Greg Lessard

Carriage Ride Day Mountain
Carriage Ride Day Mountain

No adventure to Acadia National Park in Maine is complete without spending some time on the renowned carriage roads built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. With nearly sixty miles of roads closed to automobiles, these public trails are the perfect way to enjoy many of the most beautiful sights on Mount Desert Island.
Today, you can ride a horse drawn carriage, just as the nation’s wealthiest philanthropists did at the turn of the last century. Carriages of Acadia, located at Wildwood Stables in Seal Harbor, offers four different tours through Acadia National Park. The most popular tour is the “Jordan Pond House Tea and Popover Ride”. This tour heads to the Jordan Pond House, which has been serving tea and popovers to Acadia’s visitors since the late 1800’s. Sampling a popover with strawberry jam is an exquisite culinary highlight of any journey to Downeast Maine. The only finer treat to be found would be the popover ala mode!

Jordan Stream
Jordan Stream

There are two tours that head to Day Mountain. The longer of the two rides is a journey to the summit of Day Mountain. This trip provides many views of the nearby Cranberry Islands. Try this excursion at sunset, which provides a perfect romantic setting. With a stop at the top of the mountain, many visitors have been known to share a bottle of wine while taking in the glorious vista.
Perhaps the most interesting trip is the “Mr. Rockefeller’s Bridge Tour”. Visitors will see four of the seventeen bridges that Rockefeller built for the carriage road system. In between entertaining us with some tall tales, our carriage driver Brian Kingsley of Michigan, informed of us some pretty impressive historical facts. According to Mr. Kingsley, “The first bridge to be built was the Cobblestone Bridge. Mr. Rockefeller wanted all of his bridges to be built with cobblestones like this one, but it took seven years to complete and was very expensive. So, the rest of the bridges were made from the pink granite that can be found all over the island. It took 300 workers over 27 years to complete the carriage roads.”

The bridges tour concluded with a stop at the charming Jordan Pond Gate House. Designed in 1932 by Grovesner Atterbury, the Gate House is a beautiful home that was used as the gate keeper’s residence. Today it is home to a few lucky park rangers.
With so many exciting opportunities, Rockefeller’s carriage roads are truly a national treasure. Take advantage of them on your next visit to Maine!
For more information on Carriages of Acadia, their tours and stabling options, call 1-877- 276 – 3622 or visit
This month’s tip: Fog often makes for very exciting photo opportunities. More importantly it helps you to focus on the most important elements of your composition. Fog can also block out some unsightly or distracting elements. The fog in my image “Carriage Ride – Day Mountain” makes the scene seem more quaint or nostalgic. The next time fog rolls in, keep your camera out!