22 Jul Get off the Main Roads: 5 Incredibly Scenic Drives in Maine
When it comes to scenic drives, Maine has plenty to pick from. Whether you want to see ocean vistas and charming harbor towns, streams meandering along winding back roads, rural farmland, stunning lakes, or majestic mountains, Maine has it all wrapped up into one state. Exploring Maine by car is one of the best ways to take in all of this diverse scenery. And for those of you who prefer more nature and less cars, you’re in luck–some of the most scenic roads in Maine are found away from the tourist path.
Here are 5 incredibly scenic drives in Maine that you’ll want to add to your vacation itinerary!
1. Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway
This is a popular fall foliage driving tour, but it’s stunning throughout the year. From the town of Solon to the Canadian border, follow Route 201 along the Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway as you explore the past of the Kennebec and Dead Rivers. From their significance as a trade route for the Abenaki people to Benedict Arnold’s famous trip to Québec to their use in Maine’s logging industry, this area is not only beautiful but steeped in history. Route 201 is one of the best drives in Maine!
Today, it’s also an nature lover’s playground with whitewater rafting, snowmobiling, ATVing, fishing, and more. And don’t think you won’t find great food in these small towns–stop into the Kennebec River Brewery for a meal, or stay awhile and make the Northern Outdoors lodge your base camp for exploring.
2. Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway
This gorgeous road takes you from Mexico to Madrid in just a few hours. From mountains to waterfalls, this route is full of scenery (and plenty of chances to see moose!). You’ll definitely want to bring a camera–and a swimsuit if it’s hot–for stops at Coos Canyon, Smalls Falls, and more waterfalls along the way. Don’t miss the stop at Height of Land Scenic Overlook, if for no other reason than making your kids laugh when you try to pronounce “Mooselookmeguntic Lake.”
3. Bold Coast Scenic Byway
While Acadia National Park gets most of the attention on the Maine coast, there are other areas of what is known as Down East Maine that are truly stunning. The Bold Coast Scenic Byway follows Route 1 past Acadia on its way to Canada. Pass through the blueberry capital of the world, Cherryfield, and take detours as you wish to explore fishing villages, peninsulas, and coves along the coast.
As you make the drive toward West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, you’ll feel like you’re driving toward the end of the world. If time allows, enjoy a breathtaking hike on the Cutler Bold Coast Trail or head over the border to Campobello Island, which has the only international park in the world managed jointly by two governments.
4. Katahdin Woods and Waters Scenic Byway
Northern Maine may be sparsely populated, but the Baxter State Park area is well worth the drive. Not only is there great camping, hiking, and rafting in the area, there are endless scenic views along the Katahdin Woods and Waters Scenic Byway. Take in panoramic views of Mount Katahdin from Ash Hill in Patten, or head into the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument to explore the Katahdin Loop Road.
Abol Bridge Campground makes a great basecamp for exploring the Katahdin region! Get more information on camping near Baxter State Park here, and find details about rafting on the Penobscot River here.
5. Moosehead Lake Scenic Byway
Roll the windows down and enjoy the mountain views all around Moosehead Lake. The closest you’ll come to a traffic jam in this area is when cars stop to let a moose meander across the road. The Moosehead Lake Scenic Byway loops around from the eastern side of the lake to the western shore and on towards Jackman. If you have time, stop to hike Mount Kineo for a panoramic view from the firetower at the summit.
For even more beautiful landscapes, link this scenic Maine drive with the Old Canada Road Byway.
Which one of these Maine scenic drives would you love to explore? If you’ve traveled some of them, what were your favorite stops along the way? Let us know in the comments below!