With its rocky shores, sandy beaches, and forested mountains, Vacationland is made for campers.
There's much more to Maine than lighthouses, lobster shacks, and sandy beaches. The northernmost state in New England packs in surprising variety, from the rocky islands and seaside resorts of the Atlantic shore to the forests and mountains of the Appalachian Mountains. Campers can take their pick of 32 state parks and one epic national park, filled with lakes, woodlands, and beaches to hike, bike, climb, and kayak. "Vacationland" pulls in the summer crowds, especially along the coast, but our pick is fall, when the northern highlands are ablaze with foliage.
Maine’s mountainous north is the stuff that hiker’s bucket lists are made of. The sprawling wilderness of Baxter State Park is the starting point of the epic Appalachian Trail and home to Maine’s highest peak—the 5,267-foot Mount Katahdin. Miles of hiking trails run through the highlands, along with some of the state’s best snowmobiling and cross-country skiing trails. To get on the water, head to Moosehead Lake, or try paddling and backcountry tent camping along the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.
The hills and valleys of western Maine are peppered with high peaks and hundreds of glacial lakes, affording plenty of opportunities for a back-to-nature camping experience. Drive the High Peaks Scenic Byway for some of the most spectacular views, enjoy family camping at Sebago Lake State Park, or check into an RV park near Bethel, Naples, or Lewiston. In winter, rent a cozy ski chalet and hit the ski resorts of Sugar Loaf, Shawnee Peak, and Sunday River.
When summer temperatures soar, some of the most popular Maine campgrounds and beaches are found along the southwest shore. Head to the beach towns of Kennebunkport, Freeport, and Portland for old-fashioned seaside fun; go boating or kayaking around Casco Bay; then snag an RV site or cabin rental at the oceanfront campground in Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.
Maine’s only national park, Acadia National Park, is the headline act of DownEast, the state’s rugged and rocky southeastern coast. Opt to stay on the mainland at Bar Harbor and head over to admire the park’s historic lighthouses and ocean views, or choose from multiple camping areas on the islands. Further north, the 15 coastal parklands of Cobscook Shores have picnic tables, boat launches, and backcountry camping sites.