Essential RV Maine:
The Ultimate Guide
to the Pine Tree State
by Jake Poinier
The state of Maine features 3,478 miles of coastline—which is actually 51 miles more than California and bested only by Florida and Louisiana. Heading inland, destinations for recreation include more than 6,000 lakes and numerous forests, peaks and parks in within the Appalachian Mountain range.
Maine is one of those places where the more you explore, the more you realize there is to discover. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Stretching from the New Hampshire border for about 30 miles, this area is the perfect welcome to the most northeastern state in the U.S. Nicknamed the Beaches Region, the South Coast features picturesque sandy beaches and surf, punctuated by quaint New England towns along the way. Popular places to set up in the sand for the day include Kennebunk Beach, York Harbor Beach, Ongunquit Beach, Long Sands Beach (with views of Cape Neddick’s Nubble Lighthouse), and Old Orchard Beach, which also features an old-fashioned boardwalk and amusement park. After you’ve caught your share of rays, you’ll find countless galleries, museums, dining, nightlife, and shopping opportunities—including more than 100 outlet shops on Route 1 in Kittery. If you’re hankering for lobster, you’ve come to the right place, with lobster shacks at every turn. (As the most productive lobster fishing state in the U.S., Maine catches more than 100 million pounds of the tasty crustaceans each year.)
Where to Stay
There are plentiful options for RV camping throughout this region. Wells Beach Resort gets consistently high rankings, with pull-through sites, full hookups, and recreation options including a mini-golf course. Red Apple Campground in Kennebunkport also gets rave reviews for its facilities—and the unique option of having fresh steamed lobster delivered right to your campsite!
Maine’s Mid Coast includes seven state parks and a state forest. Reid State Park, which is day use only, features some of the state’s longest sand beaches, including Mile Beach and Half Mile Beach. Popular trails take hikers and bikers through the forest and up rocky Griffith Head, which offers sweeping views of the islands and lighthouses offshore. Moose Point, Fort Point, and Fort Knox state parks are clustered together in the eastern part of this region. Moose Point is popular for hiking and exploring tidal pools, while Fort Knox, Maine's largest historic fort, gives visitors a glimpse at mid-1800s military architecture and granite craftsmanship. Other highlights of the area include the Maritime Museum in Bath, Georgetown Pottery, and Five Islands, where you can feast on clams and lobster while watching boats cruise through Sheepscot Bay.
Where to Stay
As is the case with the South Coast, this area has dozens of RV camping options. At Shore Hills Campground and RV Park in Boothbay, you can choose from waterfront, wooded or open RV sites. Lake Pemaquid Campground in Damariscotta offers lakefront camping (and excellent freshwater fishing) not far from the ocean. Meadowbrook Camping Area in Phippsburg is a 60-acre park with a full range of amenities and RV sites that also puts you close to Popham Beach State Park.
Downeast & Acadia
Hugging the coast leads to Acadia National Park, 47,000 acres that span across Mount Desert Island and small sections of the Schoodic Peninsula and Isle au Haut. (Insider tip: Despite the spelling, Mount Desert is pronounced by locals like the word for post-dinner ice cream or cake, often emphasizing the second syllable: “de-ZERT.”) This park is open year-round, so popular activities rotate between fishing in the spring, hiking and boating during the summer, leaf-peeping in the fall, and skiing in the winter. Glacier-carved natural topography serves up diverse views with every step: waves crashing on rocky shorelines…ponds, lakes, estuaries, and harbors to explore on foot or by boat…and a wide range of wildlife that includes marine mammals splashing offshore and peregrine falcons coasting among the cliffs. It’s coastal New England at its most scenic.
Where to Stay
An excellent array of options in this region put you close to Acadia National Park and historic Bar Harbor. Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort, Narrows Too Camping Resort, Timberland Acres RV Park, and Bar Harbor/Woodlands KOA are among the popular destinations. Note that Timberland Acres is particularly suited for those with longer motorhomes.
Quoddy Head State Park sits at the easternmost point on the U.S. mainland. The famous landmark here is the 49-foot-tall West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, overlooking the Bay of Fundy from a high cliff. Thanks to the distinction of being the location of the first sunrise during a few weeks around the equinoxes, it’s a popular place to grab a seat on one of the benches to catch the sun popping over the horizon. (You can also get a certificate from the visitor’s center attesting to having visited the most eastern piece of land in the U.S.) The surrounding park includes numerous hiking trails, including one that goes all the way down to the ocean. Be on the lookout for humpback, minke and finback whales offshore.
A few miles to the northwest, Cobscook Bay State Park is an 888-acre park surrounded by water on three sides. In addition to the opportunity to spot wildlife such as eagles, ospreys, seals, otter and black bear on the hiking trails, it’s an ideal spot to observe the impressive tidal flow in this region—averaging 24 feet (compared to 9 feet along the South Coast).
Insider’s tip: If you bring your passport, it’s an easy trip across the bridge to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s summer home on Campobello Island in Canada—now preserved as a museum about his life prior to becoming commander in chief.
Where to Stay
Sunset Point RV Park—just northwest of Quoddy Head and touted as “the easternmost campground in the USA”—features 30 RV sites with electricity and water overlooking Johnson Bay. Cobscook Bay State Park offers 106 campsites, many of which are suitable for RVs, and a boat launch if you’re willing to keep an eye on the tide calendar.
Hikers know Mount Katahdin and 5,268-foot Baxter Peak as marking the northern tip of the Appalachian Trail (and the southern tip of the International Appalachian Trail that extends to the north coast of Newfoundland, Canada). While the state’s highest mountain may be the main attraction, it’s hardly the only one. Baxter State Park is New England’s largest, stretching across 210,000 acres and dozens of mountain peaks, while weaving more than 200 miles of hiking trails into the map. Just east of Baxter, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument became the newest national park site in the U.S. in 2016—87,000 additional protected acres for outdoor adventure and wildlife.
The area is renowned for putting on one of the Northeast’s best foliage displays, shining red, orange and yellow. Whitewater rafters flock to the Penobscot River for its Class V rapids, while anglers cast for lunkers in the eddies.
Where to Stay
Big Moose Inn Cabins & Campground is the closest full-service accommodation to Baxter State Park and the Penobscot River, with 7 water and electric hook-up sites for RVs. Just down the road in Medway, options are Katahdin Shadows Campground & Cabins and Pine Grove Campground & Cottages.