Otter Cliff is probably one of the most recognized geographical features within the park. At 110 feet high, it is also one of the highest coastal headlands north of Rio de Jeneiro. From the east coast of Mount Desert Island, it proudly juts out, as if it is reaching into the sea to greet the first rays of the rising sun, turning the cliff face to a golden hue that is contrasted against the blue sky. The rugged cliffs, along with the thousands of rounded and smooth boulders at its side, creates an image that whispers in the ear of many people, asking that they return each year. In heart, if not body, we do.
One can only imagine what this place was like centuries ago, when Native Americans came here to fish and gather. Or when, in September 1604, Samuel de Champlain was sailing along the coast and saw the smoke from a campfire and decided to move in for a closer look. At high tide, he missed seeing a dangerous rock formation called the “Spindle” and hit it, damaging the hull of his ship. They were then forced to seek a protected harbor for repairs and ended up spending the winter in Otter Cove. There is history here.
When visiting Otter Cliffs, be sure to use extreme caution. The area can be slippery when wet. Even when dry, little round pieces of rock and gravel can act like tiny marbles, causing anyone to quickly loose their footing and fall. If the seas are stormy or there is a known low pressure area out to sea, stay well back of the cliff and shore's edge as rogue waves can happen unexpectedly at any time.
Photos: Sunrise | From Thunder Hole | HUGE Wave | Too Close! | Peaceful
Looking North | Sunrise on Cliffs | Twilight
Interesting Fact: The cliff climbing scenes used in the recent Martin Scorsese film “Shutter Island” staring Leonardo Caprio were filmed here.
Otter Cliff is located on the eastern side of Mount Desert Island south of Sand Beach and Thunder Hole. It is accessed via the Park Loop Road.
The Free Island Explorer Shuttle Bus Service makes regular (in season) stops at the Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliff. (Refer to their #3 Sand Beach/Blackwoods & #4 Loop Road Routes.) The #3 Sand Beach/Blackwoods Route Bus returns to Bar Harbor at the Village Green and the #4 Loop Road Route Bus stops at the the Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
Otter Cliff Parking Area GPS: Latitude 44.310803; Longitude -68.189828
Hulls Cove Visitor Center GPS: Latitude 44.409286; Longitude -68.247501
Visit Otter Cliff!