Bass Harbor Head

Bass Harbor Light

Bass Harbor Head is at the southern most tip of Mount Desert Island. It is famous for the Bass Harbor Light shown in the photograph above. This lighthouse is one of the most photographed and painted lights in the world. The navigational charts identify the characteristics of Bass Harbor Light as "OCC R 4s 56ft 13M." The light is occulting (OCC), which means that the duration of the light is longer than the intervening periods of the light being off or dark. The color of the light is red (R) and the duration of the light beam is 4 seconds. The duration of dark (the light being off) is one second. The elevation of the light is 56 feet (17 meters) above the shore line and the light can be seen for 13 nautical miles (13M). The lighthouse at Egg Rock also has a red light but the duration of the light beam is 5 seconds and the dark intervals are also 5 seconds in length. Likewise, the lighthouse at Isle au Haut has a red light with a duration of 4 seconds but is is not occulting, that is, the light is on for four seconds and off for four seconds.  Sailors can easily differentiate between these lights.

Bass Harbor Light Detail

The photograph above is a detail of the light. The public is not allowed in the lighthouse. During the Presidential visit to Acadia National Park in July 2010, the Obama family stood on the walkway shown in the above photograph and waved at ships sailing by.

Coast Guard Station Sign

Bass Harbor Light is an active Coast Guard facility within Acadia National Park. The lighthouse is seen through the trees to the right in the photograph above. The housing at the light is used by Coast Guard members. Please do not attempt to enter the posted property.

Stairs to the Rocks

Virtually all visitors to Bass Harbor Light see the light from the west side. Many are not aware that the light can also be viewed from the rocks on the east side. The first photograph on this page was taken from those rocks. The trail to the rocks begins at the east side of the parking lot. Stairs, shown in the photograph above, lead to the rocks. Climbing on these rocks can be dangerous and may be impossible when the sea is high. Be very careful. The east side of the light can be safely viewed from the base of the stairs. However, most people like to venture further out onto the rocks.

The Bell and Great Gott Island

The photograph above shows the bell at the base of the lighthouse and Great Gott Island. The bell is deactivated. Great Gott Island is the closest island to the light at one mile (1.61 kilometers) off shore. This island is part of the Town of Tremont in which Bass Harbor Head and the Village of Bass Harbor are located. Great Gott Island is about a mile (1.61 kilometers) across.

Placentia Island

The photograph above shows Placentia Island as seen from Bass Harbor Head.  This Island is 1.5 miles (2.3 kilometers) from Bass Harbor Light and to the west (right) of Great Gott Island. This island is a part of the Town of Frenchboro, Maine, which consists of a number of islands that can be seen from Bass Harbor Light. The next photograph shows two more islands in the Town of Frenchboro, Great Duck island, to the right of center, and Little Duck Island, to the far left. The tip of Great Gott Island is seen to the far right. Great Duck Island is 5.5 miles (8.9 kilometers) from the light and Little Duck Island is 4.8 miles (7.7 kilometers) away.

Duck Islands

The next photograph shows a sailboat about to sail past Placentia Island. The island in the background of the right side of the picture is Swans Island about four miles (6.4 kilometers) distant. At 82 square miles (213 square kilometers), Swans Island is the largest of the islands seen from Bass Harbor Head and is designated a town, the Town of Swans Island. A distinguishing feature of Swans Island is a radio tower that can be barely seen in the photograph about a third of the distance from the sailboat to the right edge of the picture. Other islands can be seen from Bass Harbor Light. All the islands are identified on a chart located on the west side of the base of the lighthouse.

Swans Island

The next photograph shows a tidal pool at Bass Harbor Light. Note the shellfish and seaweed in this tidal pool.

Tidal Pool at Bass Harbor Light

The head is accessed by a road off State Route 102A in Bass Harbor that is located at a sharp turn in Route 102A. If you are traveling south from the Village of Bass Harbor go straight at the sharp turn onto the Bass Harbor Light road. If you are going west from Seawall, take a left at the sharp turn.


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