Maine’s stunning lands, trails, skies, waterways and even roads have earned national and international acclaim. Many of us are familiar with national parks—lands protected under federal laws and operated by the National Park Service—but there are many categories of national accolades that congressionally protect lands, including national forests, national scenic trails, national monuments and national scenic byways. Maine has them all—places that are must-visits to understand and appreciate Maine’s unique geology, ecology and history.
Maine National Parks and International Parks & Sites
Acadia National Park: Home to some of the most stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife on the Eastern Seaboard, Acadia National Park is open to explore year-round. The majority of the park’s 47,000 acres sprawls on Mount Desert Island, though portions of the park are on the Schoodic Peninsula and Isle au Haut. Whether visiting Acadia National Park for fall foliage, winter skiing, spring fishing or summer hikes, it’s the perfect outdoor playground. It’s also easily accessible from urban areas. Portland to Acadia National Park is under a three-hour drive, and Bangor to Acadia National Park is just a little over an hour’s drive.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail: It’s the longest hiking-only footpath on earth: 2,193 green and rocky miles. The Appalachian Trail rambles through 14 states from Springer Mountain, Georgia to the stony heights of Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak. Hike it all and you’ll have climbed up and down 464,500 feet.
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument: There are few amenities and no services in this wild, 87,500-acre chunk of Maine’s North Woods. If you come, bring your own gas, food and even your own water—or a way to purify the water you find. Cell service? Forget about it. Study up on your compass skills, carry good maps and pack a GPS. The reward to all this remoteness? Some of the darkest skies east of the Mississippi. Free of light pollution, this is a prime spot for people looking for stargaze in Maine.
Roosevelt Campobello International Park: A beautiful example of international cooperation, this park is jointly administered, staffed and funded by the peoples of Canada and the United States. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s magnificent summer home is preserved through a combination of an indoor museum and outdoor nature park on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada.
Saint Croix Island International Historic Site: Learn about France's broad and enduring presence in North America that began on a tiny speck of land on Maine's Saint Croix River. Today, the Historic Site is on the mainland, overlooking the Saint Croix Island settlement. Visitors can stroll an interpretive trail, see bronze sculptures of French settlers and Passamaquoddy people, and learn more about the settlements. There are also ranger-guided programs, indoor exhibits, artifacts and a Junior Ranger program for kids.
Maine’s National Forest
With its rugged ranges and majestic slopes, White Mountain National Forest covers about 800,000 acres across New Hampshire and western Maine. Speckled Mountain and Caribou Mountain (which reach elevations of 2,877 and 3,343 feet, respectively) represent 12,000 acres of Maine’s portion of the White Mountains. Hikers can experience the wonders of this magnificent forest in any season. The brilliant colors of New England’s fall foliage are well worth the trip. The hiking trails welcome trekkers to strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis in winter’s wonderland. Spots for fishing and biking abound.
Maine’s National Scenic Byways
For those who want to enjoy the stunning beauty of Maine’s parks and lands from the comfort of their vehicle, our National Scenic Byways deliver. When the Federal Government creates a National Scenic Byway or All-American Road, it means something. Only the prettiest, most historic and most enjoyable drives in the country earn these titles.