Located at the southwestern Point of Mt.Desert Island, this lighthouse was built in 1858 to warn mariners of the Bass Harbor Bar at the eastern entrance to the harbor and to mark the entrance to Blue Hill Bay. Bass Harbor also offered shelter for vessels seeking refuge from easterly gales. The lighthouse is now among the most accessible and most photographed in Maine.
The brick lighthouse is attached to the 1-1/2 story wood frame keeper's house by a covered walkway. A bell tower was added in 1876 but has since been removed; a 1902 oil house remains. The original fifth-order Fresnel lens was replaced in 1902 by a fourth-order Fresnel lens which remains in the tower.
The keeper's house is the residence for the Coast Guard Commander, Southwest Harbor and is not open to the Public. However, paths lead down to boulders neighboring the light station and a walkway takes you to the front of the house and the lighthouse.
Follow Route 3 from Ellsworth to Route 198; turn south onto Route 102 and continue through Bass Harbor to the Coast Guard Bass Harbor Head Station entrance. There are trails east of the parking area which lead down to large granite boulders at the shore; best views and photographs of the light from land are taken from these rocks.
From the water: Follow "Swans Island Ferry" signs through Bass Harbor, turning right onto Swans Island Road and the ferry landing. This light is easily incorporated into most sightseeing boat or air charter lighthouse routes.