Maine State Parks and Historic Sites
Individual entrance from park to park vary. They range from $1-$6, and if you are from out of state it cost a family of four up to $20 to enter a state park or beach.
If you plan on going to multiple places, I'd suggest a vehicle pass. For $70 (As of 2014), you can fit as many as 17 people into your vehicle and it would all be covered under the vehicle pass.
Maine State Park Passport
If anyone has ever gotten a National Park Passport, it is very similar. On your first visit ask the ranger for a Passport. They are free, and you can get one for every member of your family. You can also ask for a State Park brochure. This has a Maine map and all of the locations.
What is it?
A State Passport is a book you fill with stamps at Maine State Park, Beaches, and Historic Sites. You can gather prizes along the way, and get some great prizes if you finish it.
How many stamps are needed?
There are 48 stamps throughout the state that you need to collect.
Where do you find the stamp stations?
This is different at every park, and they do vary each year. The ranger has the discretion of where to place it. Often you'll find it near an information booth, or restroom. However, part of the fun is searching for it. It is a little scavenger hunt. The instructions on how to unlock the stations are in the Passport.
What do you get for prizes?
Prizes vary year to year. However here is an example of the payout.
8 Stamps: Sticker
16 Stamps: Patch
24 Stamps: Water Bottle (These are actually really nice, and exclusive to this program)
32 Stamps: Free Day pass for Vehicle (Great for if you want another family to tag along)
40 Stamps: Two Free Nights of Camping
48 Stamps: Free Vehicle Pass (If you turn in at end of season, they will give you next year's pass)
What if you can't fill it in the year?
No worries! Passports can be used year to year. You don't have to do it all in one summer!
Below is a list, categorized by location, of all the state parks, historic sites and beaches which you'll find in the Passport. I'll try to post tips and advice on each one.
Maine Beaches: York County
Ferry Beach State Park: This is a much better alternative to Old Orchard Beach in my opinion. This is much less crowded and has clean restrooms. Spend the day in the sand. If you are packing a cooler for a picnic, be aware it is a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the beach. A picnic area, nature trails, guided nature programs, and changing room are available.
Vaughan Woods State Park: For a quiet and serine day, Vaughan woods is a nice suggestion. There are some great bird watching, and hiking trails. This state park really values the beauty in Maine woods. It can be hard to find, we drove by about four times before we realized where it was. The entrance to this park is located at the Hamilton House which is now state owned and preserved. During the summer months you can occasionally see the inside. This State Park is a Memorial for Elizabeth Vaughan Woods, the owner of the house.
Fort McClary State Historic Site: This is one of the more interesting historical preservations. For 275 plus years, this fort has been apart of our Maine coast. It has served in five wars, and has a lot of great history. I personally, this is a must see. If you have children, they may even enjoy this one. There is a lot of different structures and buildings.
York County State Parks
Bradbury State Park
The Greater Portland and Casco Bay Region
Crescent Beach: If you are looking for a close beach near the Portland area, Crescent Beach is really nice. There is plenty of space and parking. There is a snack bar open during peak season, and picnic areas for those who are bringing their food.
Two Lights State Park: If you are headed to Crescent Beach for the day, stop by Two Lights on your way. Its only a few miles away, and has a lot to offer with out all the sand. I personally love Two Lights. There is plenty of picnic areas, pretty views, lighthouses and a pretty great playground.
Bradbury State Park: This state park is very close to those visiting Freeport. About 15-20 minutes of driving, and you'll arrive at a great hiking area. There are a number of different trails from steep .2 mile trails to long 3 mile trails. I suggest the Northern Loop trail, great for beginners. The summit shows a great view. These trails are used all year round. Hike, bike, snowshoe, snow mobile, ride a horse or cross country ski your way around.
Eagle Island State Park: Want a bit of adventure? Eagle Island is off the cost of Hallowell. My husband and I went on the Marie L Cruises, a boat that takes the two miles or so over the bay to the little island. Getting there is apart of the fun. You can also rent a boat, or use your own. Once on the island, I suggest doing the tour of the Perry house. You'll learn a lot of different history and see some old décor. You can check out the garden, roam the grounds. Check when you are going with the state park. When we went the trails were closed due to matting season.
Mackworth Island: This says its an island, but you can drive there. Right off Rt 1 in Falmouth, take the narrow road over. The entrance for the park is just to the right of the school for the deaf. It is buggy!!! Bring bug spray. The view of Casco bay is beautiful!
Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park: This park is good all year round! About 10 minutes from the center of Freeport, this park has great hiking for all abilities. You'll often find LLBean events at this location for those who are looking to explore the outdoors in a whole new way. Try cross country skiing in the winter, or kayaking in the summer. My favorite is to snowshoe in the winter, and have a hot chocolate at the pavilion afterwards. If you are into Geo-Caching, there are a number of spots with in this park.
Casco Bay Area
View of Camden and Fort Edgecomb
Birch Point State Park: This small state park is great for bird watchers! There is a swimming spot, but I think this state park is more for fishing.
Camden Hills State Park: Want a great view of the cute town of Camden? Go to the observation tower at this state park. What a beautiful view! The stamping location is near the entrance to the hiking trails, not at the summit. If you are a camper, this state park has a lot of sites. Not as private as some other state parks, but it is clean and has a lot of nice fields for activities.
This park is split up into two parts and people often miss the beach. Coming from Rt. 1, if you turn left at the park you'll have the campground and summit. However, if you take a right into the park there is a really great beach.
Damariscotta Lake State Park: Want to go swimming with out the ocean? Damariscotta Lake is a great freshwater alternative. There are plenty of picnic spots around the shoreline, and some grills as well. This is one of the few parks that has a lifeguard and roped off swimming section for little ones. It very slowly gets deeper, which makes for warmer water and lots of space to spread out.
If you don't have children, here is a tip. When you walk out onto the beach, go to the right and walk all the way down. You'll see a sign about not feeding ducks. This area is away from all of the children and you get a beach area all to yourself. There are often picnic spots in the shade there and it is really clean. If you are worried about duck poop, this park is really clean. We've never had an issue, and there are rinse off spots if you get the heeby geebies.
Fort Baldwin State Historic Site: For this state park you have to ask the ranger for the stamp. There is vandalism each year and people steal them. Instead of driving all the way in, ask them when you enter. This is a really neat fort. There are a lot of things to explore, and really cool buildings.
Fort Edgecomb State Historic Site: Right off Rt 1, this is a nice quick stop. This small fort has a great view and nice grounds.
Fort Knox State Historic Site: My all time favorite historic site. There is so much history here. I suggest bringing a light sweater, it can get windy and chilly. This is a site for one of the "Ghost Hunter's" episodes!!
There are a bunch of tunnels and rooms to explore in this massive fort. Ask about their tours. They are only about 45 minutes long but you find out a lot of history and cool facts. Check their special events calendar. Sometimes they have special re-enactment days.
Also for an extra $6, you can go into the Penobscot Bay Corridor. This is not for those who are scared of heights! Take the elevator up the tallest bridge in the western hemisphere. Be prepared when you get out of the elevator, the glass is only two feet away from you. Well worth it though!!
Popham Beach State Park: If you are planning a beach day here, arrive early. There isn't a whole lot of parking. On busy summer days it can fill up fast and sometimes even street parking is unavailable. We haven't had luck here. Out of all of the State Beaches, this is the one I disliked the most. It is too busy for my liking, and I'm not a fan of walking a mile down the road to get to the entrance. Even getting the stamp was hectic. On a slower autumn day, it is nice to walk the beach.
Fort Popham State Historic Site: This goes along with the beach, arrive early. Beach parking can end up here. There have been multiple times when we've drove all the way down and did the loop to drive back. Can get very busy. Check the special events with the Park. If you want a really cool experience at this park, go when there is a ship christening. BIW a navy ship building company is right up the river. Watch as a new ship gets transferred over to the Navy.
Moose Point State Park: What a great picnic spot! This beach is very quiet, even in the summer. There are some great areas to enjoy the scenery. There are also some nice easy trails.
Owls Head State Park: This isn't my favorite state park. If you walk to the very rocky and small beach you can take some great pictures of Rockland. There has been a lot of renovations of the lighthouse. When we went last year we could not view it due to construction.
Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site: This is a very neat site! Not only was it burnt down once, but twice! They are in the process of creating reconstructions of the original buildings. This is really a cool site. For history lovers, we loved this. Ask the ranger and they know a lot of cool facts about this location. You'll find the stamp station near the restrooms. The grass here is rather wet and dewey, so wear waterproof shoes. Also, if you want to eat, bring your own food. There is a restaurant nearby. However, it has weird hours and has been closed every time.
Reid State Park: This is my favorite beach state park! There are hiking trails and fishing spots. But this is the best beach in the state in my opinion. This mile and a half long stretch of sand is gorgeous and spacious. Even on the busiest days there is still plenty of space for everyone. There are some great grill spots, and the sand is beautiful. On calm days you can spot a number of lighthouses off the coast.
Swan Lake State Park: This park is a local favorite. It can get rather busy on warm days. If you are thinking of heading to Swan Lake its best either to arrive early or in the afternoon. The lake is beautiful, and the water is nice and clean. This state park changes the location of its stamp box every year. They wont tell you where it is, unless you really look for it. The wardens here are very nice, but want you to view the park in finding it.
Warren Island State Park: This is the most difficult stamp to achieve. Off the coast of Lincolnville, you'll see a small island near Isleboro. That is Warren Island. There is no ferry or boat to it. Some rent their own boat. But if you don't want to dish out the cash for renting, here is an alternative to get there.
-Before you plan your trip, call Warren Island and request their rowboat for the day you are going. It was $10 for a roundtrip use.
-Park your car at the Maine State Ferry Terminal. (It was $5 when we went), and purchase walk on rider tickets to get onto the ferry for Isleboro. The cost for the ferry is around $10 a person. -Take the ferry over to Isleboro. It is a really nice ride, pack sunblock!
-Once you get off the ferry at Isleboro, go to the right to a small pier (there is a very steep bridge to go down to the water) You'll see the row boat with Warren Island written on it. It had a red seat when we went.
-Now for the fun part. You must row to Warren Island. It is easy to spot, and is about a half
mile trip. If you haven't rowed in a while, I suggest you practice before trying it on the ocean.
-The warden will meet you at the dock and help you tie up.
The wardens at this park are very helpful. They live on the island through out the summer, so love company. If you plan in advance there are some great camping spots along the shore. I believe there are 10 sites. If you are there for the day, take the trail around the island. There are some interesting sites. This island is rather buggy, so either wear pants or lots of bug spray!
Midcoast State Parks
Seriously, a Flag Pole!
Downeast and Acadia
Cobscook Bay State Park: Want a really unique camping experience? Each private camp site has its own private view of this bay. There are some inner sites, for those who don't want to make the trips to their car. However, we had a nice private site. There is some great wildlife here, and loved the view. Did I mention the view is nice :). This is not the place for large tents. Ours barely fit, the site is small. Be sure to peg your tent down. It is very windy in the coves, and your tent can easily get swept up.
Fort O'Brien State Historic Site: (Machias) Umm, it's a flagpole. Seriously, that is what you get. There is a nice coastal view. The picture you see, is all that is there. But it's a good pit-stop on your way to Holbrook.
Fort Point State Park: (Pownall) I think there has been construction every time we have come to this park. It feels funny walking into this area. There is a private house which is connected. The last time we went they did not have their stamp box out yet, so call ahead before you go.
Holbrook Island Sanctuary: (Brooksville) This park is all by its lonesome. It is very secluded, and out of the way. BUT, it is worth it. Travel to the bathroom/picnic area to find the the stamping station. There are a lot of great trails and bird watching
Lamoine State Park: (Ellsworth) Another great campground. This campground is great for longer trips. There are a lot of nearby attractions. Acadia is right near by. Acadia campgrounds don't have water or electricity at their sites, so this is a great alternative for RV campers, or for those who want those amenities at their site. Noise does travel at this site, so stay away from the group campsites.
Quoddy Head State Park: (Lubec) See the most eastern point of the US! This beautiful light house has great conservation societies. There is a nice museum inside, and some great look out points on the outside. Take the quick mile hike to the observation deck. You see some great wildlife, and the view is beautiful. Did you know the number of stripes has changed over the years? It has ranged from 8-16 stripes.
There isn't much in Lubec so pack food. If you have your passport head over to the Canadian side, there are more options for food and lodging.
Roque Bluffs State Park: (Roque Bluffs) This rocky beach is nice for locals. There is also a nearby pond to use as well. I haven't spent anytime here, this was a stop and go.
Shackford Head State Park: (Eastland) This is about 30 miles off course. There is a lot conservation at this park. If you are going to hike the trail to the headlight, I suggest waterproof shoes. The ground is very muddy and even though there are boards down, your feet will get wet Also, don't wear sandals, there are a lot of fire ants! This includes in the outhouses! This park isn't kept up like the others, so I suggest bringing a roll of TP
Maine Lakes and Mountains
Androscoggin Riverlands: Unless you are an experienced kayaker, this may just be a stamp and go type of event. There are a couple of stamp centers depending on where you stop. There are some hiking trails, but it is so buggy in the woods, I found it really not enjoyable. However, if you are a kayaker, call the local rangers to get more information. I have not gone on the river, so I cannot express my opinion on those conditions.
Mt. Blue State Park: This state park has probably the most to offer than any other. Book in advance if you are going to camp. These relatively quiet and private camping spots are, by far, my favorite. The fire pits are beautiful and there is plenty of room at each site. I love this park for camping because they have kitchen sinks through out the park to wash your dishes, and wash bins for teeth and faces. I will say the shower and bathroom situation is not very great. Wake up early to use the showers, or take your shower late at night. There are only a few stalls for a rather large park.
If you have children take advantage of their nature center. They have daily shows and classes at the amphitheater, which are free. If you like swimming, there is a small, grassy beach that overlooks a view of Mt. Blue. The water is very cold! For a small fee you can use the boats and kayaks.
Also, if you are an avid hiker, there are some great trails. I would not suggest using these if you are a beginner. Even though they are updating the trails, it is a rather intense hike for someone who is just starting out. The view is beautiful though!
Songo Locks: Even if you are not a boater, you can still enjoy viewing these Locks. Watch as the wardens use these hand-cranks to help boats travel between the crocked river and Sebago Lake. If you are a boater, it is $5 for a round trip passing. Be sure to check their hours for the day, and brush up on boater etiquette on how to go through these.
Sebago Lake State Park:The best time to camp at this campground is early May or June, and September. If you plan on camping during peak summer months book way in advance. Reservations open February 1st for this state park. They go fast for holiday weekends. The camping isn't as private. You'll occasionally see a flat screen being brought into a tent. (Seriously it happens, this campground is usually filled with tourists)
If you are not a camper, this park is great for day trips. Arrive early because you can wait for over an hour trying to get into the park. There is a nice beach and plenty of picnicking areas. If you want to enjoy the park with out driving there, take a boat on Sebago Lake. There are moorings and sandbars to anchor to.
Range Pond State Park: This is a very popular spot for locals. There aren't a lot of public swimming spots in the area. There are swimming lessons in the morning, so the docks can't be used during those times. However, if you go in the afternoon it is a bit less crowded. There is a nice dock, and a large beach. Not as sandy as I'd like, but is nice.
Rangeley State Park: Another great camping spot. Just an hour north of Mt. Blue State Park, this is great for those who want to experience the small town of Rangeley. This town is very close to the Canadian border. The view is beautiful.
Mountains and Lakes Region
Kennebec and Moose River Valley
Lake St. George State Park: (Liberty) This is the coldest lake that we went to. There are a few campsites which are right on the water. Reserve these early, because there isn't many. If you are going for the day, go early to get a beach spot. There are some swimming spots off to the side, but you have to jump right in. It is cold water, so its quite a shock. Nice playground and landscape.
Colburn House State Historic Site: (Augusta) Check with the site to see when it is open. It is only a couple weekends a year. The grounds are still under development. This one isn't managed, so it kind of feels like you are trespassing.
Fort Halifax State Historic Site: (Halifax) This single blockhouse is the only reminiscence of this large fort. It is only open on occasion. However, there are some nice picnic spots. Through out the summer local artists and bands play at the pavilion.
The Maine Highlands
Lily Bay State Park: Very windy!! If you are thinking about camping at this campground, you will get all the wind from Moose Head. It is rather chilly, swimming is very cold. There are some kayaks and row boats you can use for a small fee. There are some great hiking and fishing spots.
Mt Kineo State Park: This is another full day journey. Right in the middle of Moosehead lake you'll find Mt. Kineo State Park. If you are a golfer, this might be up your ally.
The easiest way to get there is to get there is to drive to Rockwood, which is on the western side of the lake. You'll see signs for a golf course. Park in the lot near the docks. There is a ferry for $10 a person to take you across the lake. Wear a windbreaker, it is chilly. Call ahead for the schedule.
Once across you'll find a golf course which overlooks Moosehead. Walk the path towards the west. You'll enter the state park. You'll find the stamp near the information booth. There are a couple of campsites on this island. However, they are a trip getting there. Don't forget anything!
Peaks-Kenny State Park: I really enjoyed this stop. Ask for their picnic table pamphlet. Local artists came and made a scavenger hunt. There are picnic tables built into the landscape. It is fun looking for them. It helps you see the whole park. Some great hiking and camping.
Penobscot River Corridor: Another spot for kayakers. You'll find a lot of white water rafting companies. This is another site in the North Maine Woods. Look at Allagash Waterways to find more information on this. The easiest station I found was the Chesuncook Dam station.
Seriously, watch for moose!
Allagash Wilderness Waterway: This is a 92 mile long corridor of rivers and lakes. If you want to make a week long kayaking trip there are tours and guides to help you. If you just want the stamp, Holy Smokes!!! This is the most out of the way park out of the whole passport.
Before you sign up to get this stamp, do your homework. You must go through the North Maine Woods to get this stamp. There are a number of entrances into the area and a number of ranger stations to get the stamp. We got ours at the Chamberland Bridge Ranger Station. This area is not a state park. This is a commercially owned logging area. Here is some advice.
-Have a reliable vehicle, preferably one with 4-wheel or all wheel drive.
-Have a small jug of extra gas in case you get lost.
-You must have a map with you, your cell phone and GPS will be paperweights through out this.
-If you want to camp, book early, ask the rangers at the entrance some advice. There are a number of different spots. I personally would rather camp at Baxter State Park. (Baxter is privately owned)
-Plan your trip! Know which gate you are going in and out of.
-Watch for moose! Seriously, we hit one (we were lucky and just grazed it). Do not drive at night, they are hard to spot and will jump out when they see headlights. Easy way to total your car.
-Be sure to have your spare, and gallon of water handy. There aren't a lot of people to help you.
Fort Kent State Historic Site: The northern tip of Maine is where you'll find this beauty. This block house has a lot of history. While you are there, about a mile away you'll mind a nice spot for the start of Rt. 1.
Aroostook State Park: Don't mind the cold? Aroostook is very north, and doesn't get out of the 70s very often. Check the weather before signing up for this. We went in the late summer, and it was rather cool. This state park is really nice though. It is small, and not many people take the time to enjoy it. There is no swimming here, but kind of too cold to anyway. The rangers here were very nice.
With only 20 or so camp sites there is a lot of privacy. They have a nice recreation building. It has picnic tables, charging stations, board games, and sinks. It is also a nice spot to get away from the bugs. This was surprisingly my favorite campground due to it's privacy and unique experience. You are also only five minutes from some great shopping!
Aroostook State Parks
Some Quick Reminders and Suggestions
1. Be respectful of these parks and wildlife. Bring out the trash you brought in. Don't feed or chase the animals. Pick up after yourself and your pets.
2. Smoking is never allowed in any state park.
3. Some things to pack for a day trip: Sunscreen, BUG SPRAY, Water, Snacks, Map, Compass, Extra Ink Pad, Toilet Paper, camera, and a light windbreaker.
4. If you are camping, reserve as soon as you can. Out of state firewood is not allowed. If they see you burning wood from outside the campground, they may request you to stop. This is to help prevent spread of infested plants.
5. Enjoy the wildlife and nature! There a lot of different options, make it a family affair.
6. Try to take your eyes off the GPS and give the kids a map. Having them navigate will help them gain lifelong skills!
7. Ask the rangers~ they are very knowledgeable about their parks. Even ask for a tour, they will give you a lot of fun trivia and information about the nature and history of their park.
Visit the State of Maine Department of Agriculture website for reservations, directions, and more information!