With renewed appreciation of shots of Bass Harbor Light

Bass Harbor Head Light with its Fixed Red light and 4th Order Fresnel Lens
Bass Harbor Head Light with its Fixed Red light and 4th Order Fresnel Lens

Bass Harbor Head Light with its Fixed Red light and 4th Order Fresnel Lens.

You can’t fault us.  After all, we had discovered a lovely photo of Bass Harbor Lighthouse on Mount Desert Island, Maine, on a site geared for our granddaughter:  kids.nationalgeographic.com.  It was a lovely scene — classic Maine lighthouse perched atop rocky land facing the ruggedness you come to see when you visit Down East.  But getting that shot?  Well, that’s another story.

The shot we'd love to have:  Bass Harbor Light as seen on National Geographic Kids: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/nature/acadia/#Acadia-lighthouse.jpg

The shot we’d love to have: Bass Harbor Light as seen on National Geographic Kids: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/nature/acadia/#Acadia-lighthouse.jpg

You see, if you head to the Bass Harbor Lighthouse site you find on a map, you land at a nicely paved parking lot.  “Piece of cake,” you say to yourself as you wonder which path to take:  left path or right.

Left Path

If you go left, be prepared to walk downward — way downward — on multiple steep wooden steps and uneven rock ledges.  And sometimes you’ll be body to body with other tourists lumbering just as you are with cameras dangling around their necks.

It's a long climb down the steps to view the Bass Harbor Light above.

It’s a long climb down the steps to view the Bass Harbor Light above.

But oh, there’s more. You need to prepare yourself for rocks. Sharp rocks.  Precariously perched rocks that barely make room for a good toehold.  And it’s at the base of those granite rocks that you may want to pause and pay your respects to all who are struggling as they wonder if perching themselves on the one flat rock they can find will enable them to hoist a leg over a nearby sharp-pointed boulder, steady themselves, and take a photo.  But climb as you must, you still may not get that shot you saw on the internet.

People climbing -- cautiously -- among the rocks, trying to get that perfect shot of Bass Harbor Light.

People climbing — cautiously — among the rocks, trying to get that perfect shot of Bass Harbor Light.

Perched on flat rocks, tourists try to capture Bass Harbor Light without falling!

Perched on flat rocks, tourists try to capture Bass Harbor Light without falling!

Our best shot from the left path?  This sideways glimpse.  Not bad for old people unaccustomed to rock maneuvering, but still not the crisp view of the lighthouse with dawn’s early light behind it.

From the left side:  Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Mount Desert Island.

From the left side: Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Mount Desert Island.

Right Path

Now, if you take the right path out of the parking lot, you’re in for much easier walking.  Stop at the sign that gives you all the goods on this light:

  • Established in 1858
  • Cost of land: $80
  • Cost of buildings $4,983.35
  • Completed in 1876 with fog bell and tower (since removed).

Today, you’ll see the lighthouse with a 4th order Fresnel Lens and Fixed Red light as well as a private residence for a Coast Guard member and his/her family.

It’s from here that you can stand on the level path and have your picture made or take another shot or two of what you came to see:  Bass Harbor Head Light.  

View from the right:  Bass Harbor Light with original bell in foreground.

View from the right: Bass Harbor Light with original bell in foreground.

No matter which way you choose to go — left or right — know that the best photo-ops are probably way beyond the two pathways out of the parking lot.  You may now have the same visions we had:  hale and hearty photographers climbing outward from the wooden steps, looking upward to catch the lighthouse in its entirety surrounded by heaven above and rocky shoreline below.  But we never saw that view.

The best news we have is this:  Bass Harbor Light is one pretty sight to see from any angle.  So, even if you don’t get a view of the whole and even if you’re not Ansel Adams, you can enjoy one of Maine’s storied lighthouses — all for free.

From the rocks:  View of Bass Harbor Lighthouse on Mount Desert Island

From the rocks: View of Bass Harbor Lighthouse on Mount Desert Island

For more beautiful images of Bass Harbor Light, go to:

19 thoughts on “With renewed appreciation of shots of Bass Harbor Light

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      We loved this lighthouse and the whole area. Even climbed on the rocks a bit to get a better view. What I think we’d really love would be a boat trip that stops a while for a good view of the light. Such a lovely, lovely area!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      If I had to pick one lighthouse as my favorite, I wouldn’t be able to do it. But this setting has got to be one of my favorites simply because it makes the shot of it almost unattainable without some maneuvering. Maine is gorgeous — hope you do get there someday.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      You’re right about the astonishing scenery, but I’m not sure about hiking trails. There are numerous state parks and pull-offs along the highway which I assume are hiking trails. If you Google this — Maine Hiking Trails — you’ll get several sites. One that looked promising to me was this one called Maine Trail Finder: https://www.mainetrailfinder.com/

      Let me know what you find.

  1. Curt Mekemson

    Peggy and I have done our share of scrambling around looking for that perfect shot of lighthouses, Rusha. And then there was the guy with a drone. 🙂 You photos are great. –Curt

  2. dawnkinster

    We were exactly there July of 2014. We did the climbing out on the rocks thing too. I remember another tourist out there with us, the lady had on flip flops and was carrying a small dog. She was nuts. We didn’t get any great photos, but it was a memorable experience!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Love your experience. It never ceases to amaze me what people wear when they are exploring. Perhaps the flip-flop wearer had no idea that the rocks were so treacherous, but still . . . We didn’t get great photos either, but I treasure what I did get. Maybe a boat trip is what you really need for this lighthouse!

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