Maine’s natural wonders are, arguably, the best in New England. We’ve got waterfalls that go backwards, thunderous caves and rocks that are suspended on the edge of a cliff. If you’re from Maine, you’re probably familiar with most of these wonderful natural features. But, have you ever thought about visiting them in one weekend? If you’re one of the ambitious ones and want to be seriously impressed, take this road trip to see some of Maine’s best natural wonders. And, because we know you’ll need some sustenance along the way, we’ve thrown in a few extra stops as well. Read on for the full route and descriptions and click
here for the exact directions through Google Maps.
Stop #1: First, get some coffee and a few donuts at
Frosty's in Freeport.
In addition to good coffee, Frosty's will send you on the road with a sugar fix. Choose from any of their awesome selection, or make your own! They've got all the fixings for your own personalized version of the perfect donutty breakfast.
Their exact address is 45 Main St, Freeport / 207-865-9811.
Stop #2: Next, head to the totally strange
Desert of Maine in Freeport.
This curiosity has been welcoming guests since 1925. Now offering a campsite, tours and various museums, it's worth the trip if only to take photos next to the giant camel. Note: Camels are not at all indigenous to the area. How did this place come to be? The land was farmed by the Tuttle family beginning in 1797, but one thing led to another and someone forgot to rotate the potato crops, then must have forgotten about the sheep who overgrazed the place.
All of this led to soil erosion which revealed the glacial silt beneath that eventually took over the entire farm. There's even a house that's covered in sand that, if cleared, would just become covered in sand again by the land. Tuttle family, this is why you can't have nice things. Just kidding. Thanks for the cool desert. Definitely a natural wonder of Maine.
Tumbledown Mountain isn't necessarily a natural wonder, but we love it and it's on the way to the next stop, which is!
To break up the trip a little bit, make a stop at Tumbledown Mountain in Weld. It's not the tallest mountain in Maine, but exploring the area will provide some incredible views, beautiful plants and even a near-summit pond. The area is best for moderate to advanced hikers, but as with any hike, caution should be exercised to hike safely. If you're taking this road trip because you prefer to be shuttled around, you can always just stop and take in the greenery before continuing on your merry way.
Stop #4: Next, you'll be heading to the majestic
Height of Land near Rangeley.
The phrase "height of land" refers to the division between two watersheds. This one, off of Route 17 near Rangeley, is a picture taker's paradise that features an incredible view of Mooselookmeguntic Lake.
Flagstaff Lake is wonderful and acts as a way to break up the long trip to your next destination.
While its beautiful surface is enough to make it a destination, the sad story of the ghost town that once existed here is even more compelling. Under the waters lies the remnants of the plantation town that was flooded by the Central Maine Power Company in the 1950s. Read all about it
Stop #6: The Grand Canyon of the East, Gulf Hagas, is your next stop.
You can take in the views via an 8.6-mile looped hike that takes about 8 hours. But, since this is only Stop #6 and we've got much more to see, there are other hiking options nearby that bring you close to the falls without quite so much effort. Remember to bring your bathing suit, you'll love the swimming here!
Goodnight! Give the
Young House B&B in Millinocket a shot.
This lovely home in Millinocket will be an easy jumping off point to see Mount Katahdin in the morning. Visit them online by clicking
Stop #7: In the morning, gaze up at the view of
Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park.
While we don't expect you to climb the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, we do recommend exploring Baxter or simply gazing up at it. Katahdin's name was given by the Penobscot Indians and means “The Greatest Mountain." It serves as the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, but can be hiked on its own in about 10 hours. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's an incredible wonder we can call our own.
Stop #8: Don't forget breakfast at
The Appalachian Trail Cafe in Millinocket.
If you've been to this Maine classic before, don't let the great new look on the outside fool you! Inside, you'll get the same classic, comfort fare that the Appalachian Trail Cafe has been serving up to locals and thru-hikers for years.
Their exact address is 210 Penobscot Ave, Millinocket / 207-723-6720.
Stop #9: Next, you're headed to the interesting
Reversing Falls in West Pembroke.
The Reversing Falls (also called "Cobscook Falls") are formed as a result of a large rock ledge that makes it impossible for the water to move smoothly. During the incoming tide, this underwater activity creates a crazy waterfall, along with whirlpools and surprisingly high swells. But, the real phenomenon is during the outgoing tide.
When the tide heads in the opposite direction, the movement of the water goes over the treacherous area in the reverse direction, creating what appears to be a waterfall that moves opposite of the current. Perhaps as interesting as the falls themselves is how calm the area looks when the tide is not moving. It's as if the water holds a secret, only available to those watching in the right place at the right time.
Stop #10: Time for some eats at
Sure, there are plenty of places you could stop as you get closer to Acadia, but we recommend something with local flavor. Bluebird is a family establishment, through and through. Friendly and efficient staff serve up one of the best meals you'll have in Washington County. The seocnd day of this weekend road trip will put you in town on Sunday, just in time for brunch! We highly recommend having anything with blueberries in the name.
Stop #11: And now, onto the teetering
Bubble Rock at Jordan Pond.
Bubble Rock is one of the most unbelievable natural wonders we have in Maine. This isn't your run-of-the-mill rock. It's actually a "glacial erratic" left by ice age activity a very, very long time ago. By analyzing the type of granite within the rock, geologists have been able to discern that glaciers carried Bubble Rock to its precarious perch all the way from Lucerne, Maine - 30 miles (48 km) away!
Stop #12: Go out with a bang at Acadia's
We could certainly call the entirety of Acadia National Park a wonder of Maine, but a few places within this magnificent park stood out as special. Among them is Thunder Hole. The attraction gets its name from the booming noise made when air escapes from a sea cave after being trapped by the incoming tide. Check it out, but watch out for rogue waves!
The best thing about this road trip is that it brings you directly to Bar Harbor. Spend the rest of your time exploring Acadia, or go to Bar Harbor and meander around town.