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Take a Scenic Drive Through Maine

The northeasternmost U.S. state, Maine, was once a part of Massachusetts, not earning its statehood status until 1820. The state is known for its geological variations, 3,500 miles of rocky coastline, and diverse wildlife, including the Alces alces americana or moose, the icon of the Maine woods. The state also includes four of America’s Byways. (For a national map of America’s byways, go here.)

Regardless of the time of year you visit, Maine has plenty to offer. Spring in Maine brings Maine Maple Sunday along with spring fishing and white-water rafting. Summer is all about the water: surfing, sea-kayaking, windjammer cruises, and whale-watching—or just hanging out on the beach with a lobster roll in hand. And of course, autumn is fall foliage time, or for those who want something a little more active, hunting, fly fishing, and hiking. As for winter in Maine, snow-swept woods and fields call hardy souls out to ski, snowshoe, or ice-fish, followed by long evenings in front of a fire, mug of hot chocolate at the ready. 

Whenever you come, Maine has something for you so load up your RV and head north.

Note: Before heading to Maine, check this page for the latest coronavirus updates, since there may be travel restrictions in place. Also, know what the health guidelines are in the various locales and bring along plenty of PPE (personal protective equipment), including masks.

Old Canada Road Scenic Byway

The longest of the four Maine America’s Byways, the Old Canada Road Scenic Byway, covers a little over 78 miles. Drive time is about two-and-a-half hours—or a full day if you stop along the way while you’re crossing the state from east to west. 

And you will want to stop since the Old Canada Road Scenic Byway—a segment of U.S. Rt. 201—is a trip back into the past. The byway follows the old river trading paths of the Abenaki Tribe, past turn-of-the-century homes and winds alongside the Kennebec River, Wyman Lake, and the Dead River. 

As you cross the state and head toward the US international border crossing at Sandy Bay, you’ll have a chance to see the abundant wildlife that calls the mountain ridges, forests, and rivers home. But don’t settle for a glimpse through your windows. The Old Canada Road Scenic Byway offers plenty of reasons to stop and enjoy what it offers along the way. 

Other scenic drives in the state

Here are three other scenic drives on the America’s Byways list for Maine. 

It may be only 40 miles long, but it can take three hours to view all the sights offered by the Acadia All-American Road. Head south on Route 3, follow it as it curves east then north into Acadia National Park. Travel down to Otter Cove, then choose to rejoin Route 3 to return to Bar Harbor. But don’t just stay in your vehicle. Be sure to allow time to explore Acadia National Park—the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline of the United States with 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads.

When you’re driving along the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway, it’s all about slowing down and enjoying the view as it winds through the Appalachian Mountains and lakes of western Maine. The byway is just under 36 miles in length, but it has a lot to offer, from incredible scenery to quaint New England villages. Start at the intersection of ME-17 and Main Rd, southwest of West Central Franklin, following Route 17 and allowing time to enjoy the breathtaking views of Mooselookmeguntic and Upper Richardson Lakes at the Height of Land. Continue on the byway as it wraps around Rangeley Lake, then head southeast on Route 4 to Madrid Rest Area, where the byway ends.

Schoodic Scenic Byway is the smallest of the four Maine America’s Byways—just 29 miles in length—and takes you through an unspoiled landscape along the “quiet” side of Acadia National Park and Frenchman’s Bay. The drive is set against a backdrop of mountains, coastal islands, historic buildings, and lighthouses, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the culinary results of lobstering and clamming as well as the artistry of local craftspeople. While you can do the drive in an hour, that’s hardly enough time to enjoy all that Schoodic Scenic Byway offers. And if you have youngsters along for the ride, don’t miss the seven “Kids Quest” sites, covering the region’s history, ecology, and culture.

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