With more miles of coastline than California (yes, seriously!) and awe-inspiring mountain roads, Maine was made for road trips. You can use this list as an excuse to load up the car with travel snacks and see some of our state’s logging history; or, just spend some time looking at the coastline we all know and love. Whatever your reason for hitting the road, remember that the journey is more important than the destination.
1. The Golden Road Maine Scenic Byway
Let's start with an awesome inland trip! The 96-mile Golden Road was built by the Great Northern Paper Company and stretches from the St. Zacharie Quebec border crossing to the company's former mill in Millinocket. Seems like a lot of work until you think about how they used to FLOAT the logs on the river to get them to the mill. Much of this road is unpaved so make sure your car is in good shape before heading out. Look forward to some awesome views of Katahdin on the way.
2. The Katahdin Woods & Waters Maine Scenic Byway
Part of Maine's scenic byway system, this 89-mile trip is another one that will take you through the North Woods. On this trip you'll go from Baxter State Park to Millinocket where you'll hop onto Route 11 to Medway. Here you'll head North on Route 11, eventually following Route 159 to the northern boundary of Baxter State Park at Matagamon. You can access the byway from Exit 244 in Medway and Exit 264 in Sherman if you're traveling on I-95.
3. Pequawket Trail Maine Scenic Byway, Route 113
This 60-mile route makes for a lovely 2-hour trip in chilly autumn temps for leaf peepin' or in the winter for views of snow covered trees. Make a day of it in the summer for picnics, hikes and swimming holes. Throughout the trip along the Saco River and the Mountain Division Rail, you'll pass sustainable working farms, artisans and pure nature. The byway runs between Standish and Fryeburg.
4. Fish River Maine Scenic Byway, Route 11
This 37-mile trip between Portage and Fort Kent will lead you to some of the best that Northern Maine has to offer. Take in the views of natural landscapes, including Mt. Katahdin and Eagle Lake and then take a few side trips to places like Fort Kent Blockhouse, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and Aroostook State Park.
5. Million Dollar View Maine Scenic Byway
This 8-mile span of Route 1 is unforgettable. It's the shortest on this list, but might give you some of the most breathtaking views of all. Enjoy the East Grand, Brackett and Deering Lakes before reaching the byway's high point near the top of Peekaboo Mountain. If you're looking for more, this route will ultimately lead you into Aroostook County or New Brunswick, Canada.
6. Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway
One of my favorites, this 52-mile route on State Routes 17, 16, and 4 surrounds Rangeley Lake and crosses the Appalachian Trail. The most memorable part is, perhaps, the view of Mooselookmeguntic Lake at the Height of Land. Depending which season you make the trip, add a detour to Angel Falls, Coos Canyon, Rangeley Lakes State Park, Rangeley Logging Museum or Saddleback Mountain for skiing.
7. Schoodic National Scenic Byway
This 29-mile route will take you through the only mainland portion of Acadia. Along the shoreline there are plenty of beautiful lighthouses and nature, as well as views of Cadillac Mountain and Mount Desert Island.
8. Acadia All-American Scenic Roadway
This route is 40-miles of beauty. If you're looking for a slice of all Maine has to offer, this just might be the road trip for you. You'll follow Route 3 into Bar Harbor and then follow the park loop road. Depending on the season, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy beaches, swimming holes, hiking and views of just about any sort of waterway you're in the mood for. Take a side trip to Cadillac Mountain, Echo Lake and Isle au Haut to name just a few options.
9. Old Canada Road Scenic Byway, Route 201
Choose this road trip if you're a history buff or if you have a love of adventure, including the desire for a quick rafting trip along the way. You'll see evidence of the 19th and 20th century lumber boom in many of the towns on this 78-mile route. In fact, most of the area is working forest and Route 201 continues to be an important trade route between Canada and the US. As you pass through these beautiful small towns, make sure to see one of the oldest, continually operating summer music theaters in the US, the Lakewood Theater in Madison.
10. State Route 27 Scenic Byway
If you're a lover of all things winter, you may have already been on a portion of this trip, which connects Kingfield with Sugarloaf USA, Stratton and Eustis. Begin this route in Kingfield and follow the Carrabassett River for views of Mount Abraham and the Bigelow Range. Continue to the end and you'll be at the international border crossing in Coburn Gore.
While these are some of the “official” scenic roadways, we know that there are some incredible stretches of road all over Maine. What are your favorites? And, of course, if nature isn’t your thing, you can always plan your road trip around food using our list of
great diners in Maine.