Park Chasers is gearing up for our next big national park road trip! This time we’re planning the perfect fall road trip to all the National Park Service units in Maine. October and peak fall color is one of the most popular times to visit; we’re planning our trip around this time to capture the best of the season’s foliage.
What you Need to Know About the Maine National Park Units
- The 23rd state has 4 official National Park Service units and 2 affiliated sites.
- More than 3.2 million people visited Maine’s NPS sites in 2016 bringing in an estimated $275 million in economic benefit to the state.
- The biggest attraction is Acadia National Park, followed by one of the newest units in the National Park Service, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
- Maine is also the most popular terminus of the 2,180+ mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
Planning the Itinerary
While it’s possible to visit all 4 national park units in Maine in shorter time, we’re planning some extra drive time to tour the Maine State Capital building in Augusta. It is another #bucketlist item to tour the capitol buildings in each state, so we’ll be checking that off our list at the same time.
The rest of our itinerary builds around airline flights and our other “Must-See” goals we set for the trip. Flights options to Maine primarily land in Portland or Bangor. There’s also the option to fly into Boston and drive north, which can be more affordable and offer more arrival times. For our trip, we’re departing in and out of Portland, ME.
Our other “Must-See” goals: Hike and paddle in Acadia. See the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, the first place that sees the sunrise in the United States. Cross the border into Canada near Roosevelt Campobello International Park, one of the few co-managed sites in the National Park Service.
Picking A Route to the Maine National Park Units
Our Maine National park route starts in Portland and travels north around to the National Park Service units. We plan to cover just over 750 miles in 8 days. The longest stays are planned for Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park, where camping is the easiest option.
Arrive in Portland, ME. Pick up rental car and drive to Acadia National Park headquarters in Bar Harbor, ME. We’ll spend the four days hiking, paddling and enjoying the Maine coastline. Fall colors should be near peak along the route.
Drive about 3 hours north to Saint Croix Island International Historic Site. This area marks the beginning of French settlement in 1600’s. There’s a lighthouse in the area and self-guided trails.
Hop back in the car for an hour drive to Lubec, ME and Roosevelt Campobello International Park. This site is where President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his family traveled during the summer as a child. It’s a memorial to F.D.R. and his lasting contributions to the relationship between the United States and Canada.
Drive 3.5 hours to Baxter State Park and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument site. As one of the newest National Park Service units, there are limited developed trails and access points to the park. We’ll be spending most of our time in Baxter State Park. If weather conditions hold, we’ll be climbing Mt. Katahdin, the highest point in Maine. It’s also the northern end of the Appalachian Trail.
Leave Baxter State Park early before heading 3.5 hours south to the Maine State House in Augusta. Tours are only offered Monday through Friday. After the state capitol tour we’ll have one last night in downtown Portland before flying home early the following morning.