there are two, and both offer their up side and their down sides. Keep in mind that this is a national park run by the feds, expect to be greeted by all smiles, but once your checked in, the gloves come off. If even your tire is touching some grass, you will get a stern warning. And no parking more then one car at a site, or that will bring about a warning. And they are very strict about food or food items being left outside your tent or Rv - you will be warned if you do. If your not actually seated by your fire, that too can bring about a warning. You can tie a rope between two trees for a clothes line, but signs discourage you to do so.
because people were breaking branches off trees, they passed another rule of no picking up wood or fallen brances off the ground. And don't be tempted, because they do watch. They make their rounds in a marked car, as well as on scooters, and yes, in unmarked cars as well. And we have seen them walking along the tree line watching sites from a distance. I think its just the nature of a ranger to be like this, so don't take it personally.
The downside of all this is that each warning carries points, with different points asigned to different warning. Two to three warnings will get you thrown out of the campground. And once that rangers checkin station closes, your on your own until the next morning. So if, as happened to us one year, you get several people on motorcycles pulling into a nearby site, and they decide they are going to rev their engines until 2 in the morning, there is no one for you to go complain to. Now I will break down the two campgrounds...
Okay, this is mainly by reservation, and you had better make your reservations early spring, because this place fills up fast. They offer flush bathrooms spaced throughout the campground with running water. There are electric outlets in the bathrooms where people do recharge their cell phones and such - though I'm not certain that is allowed. If you are bothered by outside lights, I sugjest you request a site away from the bathrooms, as the outside lights are on all night. Or you can do as a friend of mine did, just go over and unscrew the bulb.
and the bathrooms have screen doors which tend to bang when they close, so keep that in mind. Each site has a fire pit, and a picnic table. Plenty of room to easily park two cars, but new rules only allow one car per site. The RV sites are close together with not much screening between the sites, if any at all. As far as the tent sites go, I don't care for many of them, only because I know how good the sites are at the other campground in Seawall.
Again, many of the sites have some screening, but not much. And no showers. Across the roadway from the entrance to the campground there are privately owned pay showers. And a short distance from that a small store. In the campground itself, there is a marked trail that leads to the Cadalac Mountain Southridge trail, many people hike it, but I can tell you the better trail up the mountain is the Northridge trail, much easier going with very few roots to trip over. Its located along the one way section of the park loop road. On the other end of the campground is a service road. No cars allowed, but do hike down it, as it comes out on the park loopp road with breathtaking ocean views and high cliffs. There are signs back here warning you of the cliffs and how people have died here, those signs are there for a reason.
Walk against traffic downhill and you will come to a stonce bridge that on most good days is lined with people fishing. If you go up the road and walkk with the traffic, you will come to a wooden narrow stairway on the right side of the road that leads down to LITTLE HUNTERS BEACH - it is a pebble/rock beach, and the stones here are unbelieveable smooth and perfectly round. Again, get caught carrying any away and you will end up with a date in federal court.
I have lived here like 15 years and have never once heard of any bear reports at Blackwoods, but you will get the bear warning as to leaving food items around.. Raccoons are the main animals here. They prowl from site to site looking for food.
as you drive the wooded lane that leads in and out of the campground in early morning or at dusk, you are likely to spot a deer or two. There are some moose on this side of the island, but you won't see themnywhere near Blackwoods. And I've never seen a fox or cyotoe here either.
Now here's the park of this campground that really bugs me - there are times when there are many empty sites here, and yet the sign by the roadway says there are no vacancys. Why? So one year I asked, and was told the following..."The just don't want to be bothered with the paperwork. If you livew local and want to pop in, we'll fix you up with a site, but we really don't want to be bothered with signing people in all the time."
so there you have it - if you don't have a resvation, even if they have 100 empty sites, your most likely not going to get one of them.
The only real downside here, besides needing reservations, is that the sites are not as screened as I like them to be. And Downtown Bar Harbor is only about a 10 minute drive away. And from late June through september, about every half hour a free Island explorer shuttle bus takes people into town.
This is the real gem in the parks crown. I love this place. Most of the campsites are well screened from the next. The natural seawall is just around the corner from you, and the Seawall picnic area is just across the street. S small ice cream stand is on the far side of the seawall, as is a small camp store. And even though they don't allow you to pick up loose wood and branches to burn anymore from the nearby ground, they keep a huge pile of free firewood. Load up with as much as you want. Most of the time the pile is high, but the locals come in with pickup trucks and carry off bunches of it as well, to bundle and sell in their front yard. Why oh why does the park allow this practice, I don't know, but they should stop it. The wood pile is found up by the RV section off to the side. There is running warer spouts scattered throughout, and the restrooms are cleaned twice a day. People also use the outlets inside the bathrooms to recharge their cell phones and such. For whatever reason, the rangers warn you about staying at seawall, saying that the mosquitoes over there are unbelieveable. I have stayed at both campgrounds many times over the eyars, and I see very little difference, bug wise, between the two. All the strick warnings that apply to Blackwoods also apply here.
The one difference is that there are bears in this area. Over the years there have been bear sightings at Seawall picnic area as well as at seawall campground. And though I myself have never seen one here, I have seen them over by Bass harbor, along the lighthouse road at dusk.
You may spot foxes or cyotoes in the area as well, and the field near the entrance is famous for having several deer in it at dusk.
Another neat thing about this campground is that besides having no reservations (first come, first served, so show up early) is that they also have a walk in tenting area, for people that really want to be secluded. You park your car and walk through the paths leading through the woods and pick out your site. So what happens if you show up here after the checkin station closes for the night - no worry, they h
leave instructions for you to go find an empty site and get registered in the morning...you have to love that. Now the RV sites here are not very well screened, and are pretty close together. I did not mention it on the Blackwoods piece, but both sites offer an open amputhearter with free nightly shows put on by the rangers. The lighted pathways point the way. And even though you can only have one car per campsite, there is plenty of nearby parking - so its really not a big issue. Now the Island explorer bus does offer free service from here to Southwest harbor and Bar harbor, about every hour until 9pm, but this bus run is usually very packed, with many runs being standing room only. That may not seem too bad, but consider all the stops the bus has to make, and your standing for over an hour each way if you fail to get a seat.
Here's the trick that the locals do...as soon as the buses approach people begin to form a line or small crwod. No one can get onto the bus until everyone getting off has gotten off, so as soon as the last few people exit the bus, just step in front of everyone else and board the bus. Now you will get some people saying out loud, what's their rush, the buses are free. And its usually those very people that end up standing for a long trip and saying "now I see why they were in such a hurry to board the bus."
And yes, dispite what the rangers tell you, there are moose on the quite side of the island, I've seen them. Keep a close eye on the marshes and bogs on that side at early morning or dusk. The Seawall campground is in Seawall, just past Manset along route 102A.