01 Feb 18 How and Where to See Moose in Maine
“Have you ever seen a moose?” ranks up there on the list of frequently asked questions whenever I tell someone I’m from Maine. Now, to someone hailing from the Pine Tree State, this is like asking whether anyone in my family has a plow on their truck, if I know where Stephen King’s house is, or whether I’ve ever bought lobster caught the same day for $5 per pound.
The answer? “Ayuh.” (Translation: Yes!)
I’ve seen moose while hiking, from the air in a pontoon plane, out my grandparents’ living room window, and while driving around Maine’s back roads. We once even had one strolling around the playground at my school in the “big city” of Bangor.
But I understand the intrigue and mystery. It’s still pretty exciting for me whenever I catch a glimpse of these majestic (if somewhat clumsy) creatures, and I know that most visitors to Maine want to see a moose before they head home. Here are a few tips in hopes that you’ll spot one on your Maine adventure!
Where to See Moose in Maine
So, you’re headed to Vacationland and your next question is: What’s the best place to see moose in Maine?
There’s no guarantee of exactly where you can spot one, of course. Wildlife can be unpredictable. But the good news is: your chances of seeing a moose while you’re here are pretty good. Why? The moose population in Maine is estimated to be around 76,000, making it the highest population in the United States outside of Alaska.
And even better news: Northern Outdoors is in prime moose sighting territory. Western and northern Maine are more densely populated with moose than the coast or southern regions. Plan a trip to the adventure resort in The Forks or Abol Bridge Campground and the aptly named Big Moose Inn just outside of Baxter State Park, and you’ll be off to a good start!
Here are a few tips on where to look for moose:
- They like to hang out in swampy, boggy areas, though they can be seen pretty much anywhere. You might catch them rolling in the mud, which helps create a layer to protect them from mosquitoes and black flies. They’re great swimmers, so you may spot one in or near a body of water if you’re lucky. You can also see moose licking the salt runoff along roads since they need sodium in their diets and natural salt licks are rare in Maine.
- Here are a few specific places to go moose spotting in western Maine: Route 201 from The Forks to the Canadian border (they don’t call it “Moose Alley” for nothing!), Route 27 between Carrabassett and Eustis, Route 6 from Dover-Foxcroft to Greenville, all around Moosehead Lake (like Lazy Tom Bog) and Greenville, the Golden Road, and Baxter State Park.
How to Spot a Moose in Maine
Here are a few tips on how and when to find moose, plus a few notes on safety:
- What time of day do moose come out? They’re not very active during the middle part of the day, and dusk and dawn are the best times to spot them.
- What months are they most active? Mid-May through July and again in the fall (mating season) are the best times of year to see moose.
- Be very careful driving at any time, but especially at night. Most Mainers I know have either hit a moose or know someone who has, and my mom still reminds me to this day to “keep an eye out for moose” whenever I’m having backwoods adventures. A couple things to keep in mind: Because moose are so tall, you may not see the reflections from their eyes as you would deer. And unlike deer, they don’t dart but tend to just mosey along–sometimes running and occasionally just standing in the middle of the road. (Seriously.)
- Don’t ever approach moose or try to chase them. While they aren’t carnivores, moose are very powerful due to their enormous size and may charge if provoked. Females (cows) are 800+ pounds and protective of their calves, and males (bulls) are 1,100+ pounds and may be more aggressive during the fall mating season.
Whether or not you catch a glimpse of a moose on your Maine vacation, I hope the search is fun! And if you miss them in the wild this time, you’ll just have to plan another adventure for next year (or settle for seeing one at the lodge).