Looking for some of the most hella awesome scenic drives in Maine? Umm, of course, you are. Because guess what? Yeah, the not-so-original title kind of gave it away.
However, that’s totally okay since I am here to help and give you the inside scoop on a Maine road trip (or ten) that you’re totally gonna love.
I mean, I visited Maine every single year for twenty-plus years. So, I definitely know what I’m talking about. Plus, my dad was forever obsessed with driving and would think nothing of driving us from NYC to Vermont on a random Sunday afternoon.
So, to say we drove A LOT while vacationing in Maine is a bit of an understatement. And while it was annoying at the time (I was generally an overly energetic kid hyped up on sugar), all of these driving-related shenanigans have since come in super handy!
That’s because I now get to share with you my top ten picks for the best scenic drives in Maine – with expert tips to help you make the most out of your time in this amazing state.
So, if you’re ready for insider info aplenty that is based on 20+ years of traveling to Maine, then let’s blow this popsicle, rock the casbah, and swan dive into this bad boy of a post right here.
Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
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Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves World Nomads and Safety Wing. You can also read more about which policy is right for you in my full review here.
1. Portland to Bar Harbor Scenic Drive (US-1)
Honestly, if you only do one of the Maine scenic drives on this list, then let this be it. It’s just an iconic drive along Maine’s Atlantic Coast that takes you past a wealth of idyllic beaches, beautiful overlooks, quiet little sea kayaking spots, and vast wild landscapes where you might even see a whale or rogue puffin.
But, with so much supremely gorgeous natural beauty all around you, it can be difficult to know where to stop along the way. That’s why my advice would be to check out the following:
- Giant’s Stairs Harpswell – This easy is nature walk is just 25 minutes north of Portland and takes you along the wild Atlantic Coast, providing visitors with stunning views of Casco Bay. Who knows, you might even see a lobster boat cruise past or catch a lazy Harbor Seal or two. And if you need some sustenance to keep you going, order some fresh seafood from one of the places at Harpswell Lobster Pounds.
- Popham Beach State Park – A rarity in Maine, this is a wonderfully long and supremely sandy beach where you can actually walk out to Fox Island during low tide and marvel at the lighthouses on Pond and Seguin Islands.
- Check Out Wiscasset’s Main Street – Home to one of the busiest ports in New England, this is the perfect place to stop and explore the area’s vibrant town center. You could also soak up some of the area’s rich history by doing a self-guided Museum in the Streets tour. visiting Castle Tucker and or by stepping inside the Nickels-Sortwell House
- Muscongus Bay – This is a perfect place to go sea kayaking or to stop and savor the incredible views.
- Boothbay Harbor – This is one of my fave places in Maine and is a fantastic place to stop if you want to do a scenic harbor cruise or if you want to take a stroll along the picturesque (and easy) Gregory Hiking Trail (the trails at the Ovens Mouth Preserve are also nice but challenging).
- Rockland – Stop to check out the Maine Lighthouse Museum (it’s right on the water) or to do a harbor cruise aboard a historic windjammer (it’s a type of sailboat, just in case you were wondering).
- Camden Hills State Park – Hike to the top of Mount Megunticook and take in the sweet, sweet views. Or. drive to the summit of Mount Battie (you can hike but it’s a short, difficult climb) and enjoy the stellar panoramas of Camden Harbor.
- Visit Some of the Searsport’s Nature Preserves – This is just a really nice natural area that is home to Moose Point State Park, Sears Island (you can walk along a causeway to get here), Long Cove Headwaters Preserve (there are lively vernal pools here in the spring), and Penobscot Marine Museum.
Pro Tip: Ideally, this is one of those scenic drives in Maine that you’d do as part of a larger Maine itinerary. This way, you’d be able to spend at least one night in Bar Harbor. However, if you’re doing this drive as part of a day trip, be sure to come back at night via 1-95 since it’s faster and you won’t be able to see anything along the coast in the dark.
2. Million Dollar View (Route 1)
Route 1 offers one of the most scenic drives in Maine. It is one of my favorites because it goes through some of the lesser developed areas which means that it is quieter and it has a lot of untouched land.
The route has been called the Million Dollar view because of the gorgeous view that it offers when you reach the Chiputneticook chain of lakes. Trust me when I say that the sight will legit take your breath away!
That however isn’t all. Picture rolling hayfields framed by mountains. Yup! It is practically the postcard view of the country that everyone visits the state for. Plus this is a spot where you can catch a glimpse of a lot of wildlife. We’ve spotted moose and bears when driving.
Oh and did I mention that you can literally see Canada in the distance? You can cross across too. Just make sure that you have your passports ready though!
How Many Miles: 8 miles
Start And End Location: Starts in Danforth and ends in Van Buren
Pro Tip: This is a sweet short trip but it makes for a great day out because it takes you to a place that is known for hiking and watersports namely kayaking, canoeing and fishing.
3. Route 27 Scenic Byway
And, if you’re into either skiing or snowmobiling, then you’ll probably already know about this byway since it connects the old mill town of Kingfield (dating back to the 19th century) with the skiing paradises of Sugarloaf USA, Stratton, and Eustis.
So, start your journey in Kingfield and follow the winding road along the banks of the Carrabassett River, where you’ll enjoy stellar panoramas of Mount Abraham, and the Bigelow Mountain Range.
Along the way, you’ll pass by Flagstaff Lake (a manmade lake) and go through Cathedral Pines – the largest old-growth pine forest in the state. It is also well over two-hundred years old and covers an impressive area of 220 acres.
Continue onwards past the Dead River and you’ll be able to see where good Old Benedict Arnold led his troops on a not-so-successful mission to capture Quebec City (#FAIL).
Next, continue driving north of Eustis and admire an impressive landscape that features Shadagee Falls, Sarampus Falls, and the Chain of Ponds – eventually going up through the Boundary Mountains to your final destination.
And if you need a place to stretch your legs along the way, then you could do a bit of skiing at Sugarloaf (depending on the season), hike portions of the nearby Appalachian Trail (if you’re made of wickedly hearty stock), or enjoy a round of bowling at Moose Alley.
Regardless of the stops, you make though, you’ll conclude your stunning journey at the Canadian border crossing in Coburn Grove.
How Many Miles: 50 miles
Driving Time: About an hour and a half
Start and End Location: Start in Kingfield, Maine and end in Coburn Gore
4. The Golden Road Scenic Byway
Built by the Great Northern Paper Company to facilitate the transportation of their products from a former mill in Millinocket, this is one of those scenic drives in Maine that you can really only take if you have a sturdy car with some four-wheel drive.
Because yeah, this is one of those Maine scenic drives that consists of mostly unpaved roads. So, definitely be prepared.
Other than that though, just enjoy the ride (both literally and metaphorically) since this is one of those Maine hidden gems that is bedazzled with vibrant fall colors in the autumn.
This iconic journey will also take you over the Abol Bridge, past some large swaths of untouched forests, and culminate with stunning views of Maine’s tallest peak, Mount Katahdin.
Other highlights include Ambajejus Lake, Greenville, and Seboomook Lake just before the border crossing.
Pro Tip: Right around the time you hit Rippogenus Dam, you can either drive right to Canada or continue onto Greenville Road towards Moosehead Lake. If you want, head to Moosehead Lake since this is a stunning, super rural area that is filled with moose – immortal state residents that are best spotted at either dawn or dusk (this is when they’re most active).
How Many Miles: 97 miles
Driving Time: About four and a half hours (Yeah, it’s slow going on this road)
Start and End Location: Start in Millinocket, Maine, and end at the Canadian border crossing in St. Zacharie.
5. Moosehead Lake Scenic Byway
Not only is the lake the shape of its namesake complete with antlers, there is a good chance that you will have to stop to let the majestic moose cross the road during your drive. The 59-mile route starts at the eastern side of the lake and it is one of the most wonderful scenic drives in Maine especially in the fall. If you have time hike up to Mount Kineo for even more spectacular views of Maine.
How Many Miles: 59 miles
Driving Time: About an hour
Start and End Location: Start in Greenville, Maine and end in Jackman, Maine.
6. Old Canada Road Scenic Byway (aka Route 201)
History lovers of the world unite! Because this is the Maine scenic drive of your dreams! Yeah, it’s one of those super cool scenic drives in Maine where you’ll see tons of remnants from the former lumber boom of centuries past.
Like when you pass through quaint little towns like Bingham, with its historic clapboard homes, and iconic whitewater rafting/camping spots like The Forks (The Kennebec and Dead Rivers meet here).
Truth be told though, much of this part of the state is still heavily involved in the lumber business since route 201 is still very much an active trade route between the US and Camada.
And if you want even more awesome things to do before you hit the border crossing at Sandy Bay, you could always check out the Bingham Rail Trail in Solon, go for a boat ride on Wyman Lake, hike sections of the Appalachian Trail, and so much more.
Pro Tip: Make some time to stop at the Lakewood Theater in Madison. Its claim to fame is that it’s one of the oldest continually operating music theaters in America today.
How Many Miles: 78 miles
Driving Time: About an hour and a half (If you go slowly it’ll probably take 3 hours with stops)
Start and End Location: Start in Solon, Maine, and end in Sandy Bay township.
7. Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway
Honestly, this is just a ridiculously beautiful scenic drive in Maine that will take you on state routes 17, 16, and 4, past Rangeley Lake, and over the ever-iconic, Appalachian Trail
So, start your journey off on Route 17 and continue climbing upwards until you hit one of the most famous overlooks in the entire state, Height of Land.
It’s from here that you can marvel at Mooselookmeguntic Lake and the various waterways that makeup Richardson Lakes.
Also be on the lookout for any seaplanes that may be flying in the area as you snake your way along Route 4, hitting Smalls Falls and the quaint village of Rangeley with its cool shops and enticing eateries.
Continue onwards and you’ll eventually hit Carrabassett Valley and the area surrounding Sugarloaf, which is brimming over with amazing hiking trails, including some of the toughest sections of the Appalachian Trail.
Other highlights along the way include a stop at Coos Canyon, a hike through Rangely Lakes State Park, a stop at the Rangeley Logging Museum, and a trip to Saddleback Mountain for some skiing in the winter.
Pro Tip: If you have time, you can take a detour to Angel Falls at the start of your journey. There’s also an awesome campground called Cathedral Pines in Eustis that you might want to check out since it’s stunning and overlooks Flagstaff Lakes and Bigelow Preserve.
How Many Miles: 52 miles
Driving Time: A little over two hours.
Start and End Location: Start in Romford, Maine, and end in Madrid, Maine.
8. The Bold Coast Scenic Byway
Located along the Northern Coast of Maine (above Bar Harbor), this is one of those amazing scenic drives in Maine that you 110% CANNOT afford to miss.
Especially since it’s a route that will take you to tons of places in Maine that you’ve probably never actually heard of. You’ll also definitely need a solid weekend to do this scenic byway justice, so plan accordingly.
However, once you finally have your hotel plans squared away, you can start your journey off in the seaside fishing village of Milbridge. You’ll then drive east to Lubec and can visit picturesque Cobscook Bay at the end of your journey.
Along the way, you’ll also discover a wealth of beautiful granite shores, rustic local lobster wharves, and an assortment of clam diggers working hard in the area’s many mudflats.
Plus, if you can actually manage to get your butt out of bed before the crack of dawn, you can take in a magnificent sunrise (the first in the US) at the lighthouse (it looks like a giant candy cane) at West Quoddy Head.
And added bonus? You can even take a slight detour and find tons of blueberries growing all over the place in Eastport – plants that bloom into lovely little white flowers in the spring and then slowly transform into vibrant purple berries once August rolls around.
How Many Miles: 125 miles
Driving Time: A little over three and a had hours
Start and End Location: Start in Millbridge, Maine, and end in Lubec, Maine.
9. Acadia All-American Road
If you are not up for hiking at Acadia National Park then definitely try to cruise the Acadia All-American Road to see the beauty of the numerous mountains, Maine’s coastline, and one of the greatest scenic drives in Maine.
A wonderful thing about this route is that it will take you into the national park and the Acadia’s winding roads. It is one of the most popular parks in Maine so expect traffic during the summer months.
But if you are not in a rush it is worth it to see the greatest hits of Maine’s rugged coast including Jordan Pond, Otter Cliffs, and the Thunder Hole.
How Many Miles: 40 miles
Driving Time: About three hours
Start and End Location: Start in Trenton, Maine and end in Bar Harbor, Maine.
10. Schoodic National Scenic Byway
This is one of those scenic drives in Maine that makes a nice little day trip if you’re planning to base yourself in Bar Harbor, Maine. And let’s be honest, most people are since this awesome little town is basically the gateway to the one and only, Acadia National Park.
So, if you’re already in Bar Harbor, mosey on over to Hancock where you’ll find a scenic overlook with views of Taunton Bay.
Next, jump onto US-1 and take this immortal road through the mainland portion of Acadia National Park and into Prospect Harbor.
While in Acadia, be sure to stop at Schoodic Point where you see the waves crashing up onto the shore, get stunning views of Cadillac Mountain, and can even catch a glimpse of a local porpoise or harbor seal in the water. If you want, picnic at the granite ledges or take a brisk hike through the area.
Afterward, stop by the Winter Harbor Town Pier and catch a glimpse of what life is really like for local lobstermen before visiting one of the coast’s most beautiful (and historic) attractions, The Prospect Harbor Lighthouse (it was built in 1846 and can be seen from Route 186 but the property itself is not open to the public
Continue on down the road and you’ll eventually hit the town of Gouldsboro. It has a charming little park in Prospect Harbor that overlooks the water and that makes for an idyllic picnic stop.
And if you really want to get off the beaten path then you can also check out the town of Corea. It’s about 3.5 miles away from Prospect Harbor on Route 195 and is just a classic coastal fishing village with a ton of friendly people to meet.
However, some other nice stops you might want to make during this scenic Maine drive include The Old Sullivan Store, Mt. Desert Island, Quarry Wharf, and Tidal Falls.
Pro Tip: Have kids? Then look out for seven different “Kid’s Quest” signs along this amazing byway. Each one features different outdoor activities that are designed to teach kids about the area’s history, ecology and culture. So, prepare to climb aboard a small lobster boat in Prospect Harbor and learn all about tides at Tidal Falls in Hancock.
How Many Miles: 29 miles
Driving Time: About 30 minutes.
Start and End Location: Start in Hancock, Maine, and end in Prospect Harbor, Maine.
Blackwoods offers New England charm and one of the shortest scenic drives in Maine.
But it is totally worth it during peak blueberry season since Cherryfield is also known as the “wild blueberry capital of the world.”
Even though those blueberries are small, they are so GOOD! I still dream about them and can’t wait for the next time I can get my hands on some.
Anyway, back to Blackwoods, which is a small two-lane highway surrounded by forest with plenty to do because of the hiking trails around it, bird watching on Hog Bay, and the Donnell Pond and Tunk Lake.
How Many Miles: 12.5 miles
Driving Time: About half an hour
Start and End Location: Start in Franklin, Maine and end in Cherryfield, Maine.
12. The Katahdin Woods & Waters Maine Scenic Byway
The Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway is one of those scenic drives in Maine that takes you past some of the most awe-inspiring natural landscapes in the state’s vast interior.
And one of the most unbelievable highlights of this amazing drive? Yup, you guessed it, Mount Katahdin. It’s the state’s tallest mountain (standing at 5,268 feet) and the endpoint of the world-famous Appalachian Trail.
Because many people have long been seduced by the overwhelming beauty of the great north woods – people ike Frederic Church, Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, Carl Sprinchorn, Jake Day, and more.
So, to start your journey, head to the southern entrance of Baxter State Park at Togue Pond and make your way to Millinocket Lake Road, where you’ll join Route 11 and go east to Medway.
Continue north on Route 11, passing through Stacyville and Sherman, eventually making your way to Patten, home of the Lumberman’s Museum – which is for sure worth a visit.
From Patten, you’ll continue along Route 159 (parallel to the Penobscot River) through Mount Chase and into the Village of Shin Pond, concluding your journey at Baxter’s northern entrance at Grand Lake Matagamon.
And if you just can’t sit in the car for a solid three-plus hours, then you can always check out Baxter State Park and Katahdin, explore Shin Falls, see Grindstone Falls, discover the Debsconeag Ice Caves, marvel at Ash Hill, visit the historic Boom House on Ambajejus Lake, and stop into the Ambejejus Boomhouse Museum.
You could also get back into nature and canoe past the seven waterfalls on the eastern part of the Penobscot River or go whitewater rafting on the western section of this amazing waterway.
No really, trust me on this. This area is said to be home to some of the best whitewater rafting in Maine and is not to be missed if you’re a lover of whitewater (like me).
Pro Tip: For the best views of Katahdin, climb to the top of Ash Hill. You could also
How Many Miles: 89 miles
Driving Time: About 3+ hours
Start and End Location: Start in Millinocket, Maine, and end at Matagamon Gate, Baxter State Park
13. Pequawket Trail Maine Scenic Byway (Route 113)
Named by the Sokokis tribe that once inhabited the Saco River area, this is one of the many impressive scenic drives in Maine that allows visitors to see the work of local craftsmen and artists, understand what life is actually like on working sustainable farms, explore historic villages, and uncover indigenous wildlife in their natural habitats.
So, start your drive in Standish, quickly joining Route 35 (off Route 113), and taking a quick pit stop at the boat launch site for Sebago Lake, Maine’s second-largest (and seriously impressive) lake.
And although you are allowed to swim at some of the public beaches on the lake, I’d continue on and once you make a left turn onto Route 11, get off at the parking lot for Steep Falls, just before the bridge over the Saco River. It’s a quick hike from here to the small but pretty falls.
Get back on the road and you’ll quickly enter an area between Hiram and Fryeburg that is littered with hiking trails that are suitable for outdoor enthusiasts of every fitness level, like the Barnes Trail up Mount Cutler (I didn’t do this 2-mile hike since it’s steep and rocky but you definitely can).
Next, you’ll hit the quaint little town of Fryeburg (they hold the last outdoor fair of the year here annually in October). Once there you can do an easy, quarter-mile hike up to the top of Jockey Cap (the views are definitely worth the quick hike) or visit the Hemlock bridge over the Saco River (it was first built in 1857).
Finally, continue down the road for another 30 miles and pass through the White Mountain National Forest. It sits along the border with New Hampshire and is the perfect place to do a bit of leaf peepin’ during the autumn season.
And if you’re still looking for even more super cool stuff to do along the way, then you could always visit The Mountain Division rail trail, The Hiram Rail Museum, The Fryeburg Museum. Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail, and Brownfield (sweet views of Mount Washington).
Because per usual, there’s just so much to do and so little time.
Pro Tip: You could easily do this Maine scenic drive as part of a day trip from Portland since Standish sits just 45-minutes outside of Portland.
How Many Miles: 60 miles
Driving Time: About 2+ hours
Start and End Location: Start in Standish, Maine and end in Gilead, Maine.
14. Saint John Valley Byway
The Saint John Valley byway is one of those scenic drives in Maine full of historical destinations.
The multi-cultural history of the area is evident with some of the locals speaking French as well as its Scoth-Irish settlements and its Native American tribes of the Wesget Sipu, Maliseet, and Mi’kmaq.
There are plenty of museums to visit but the main draw is the 92-mile byway through the beautiful river valley making it a cultural and one of the quintessential scenic drives in Maine.
How Many Miles: 92 miles
Driving Time: About three hours
Start and End Location: Start in Dickey, Maine and end in Hamlin, Maine.
15. Fish River Maine Scenic Byway (Route 11)
Ready to explore even more of Northern Maine? Then take this 37-mile scenic drive from Portage to Fort Kent and stand in awe of a wild, natural landscape that is home to vast wildflower meadows, gorgeous Mt. Katahdin, and exquisite Eagle Lake.
Now, as you make your way north along Route 11, you’ll encounter a heavily forested area that is home to tons of local wildlife like eagles, beaver, and Maine’s most famous non-human resident, moose.
You’re also likely to encounter some commercial truck traffic as you pass through Wallagrass, Eagle Lake, Winterville, and Portage Lake since this road is a main transportation corridor between Aroostook County, Maine, with New Brunswick, Canada.
However, when you finally do make it to Fort Kent, be sure to soak up the area’s rich local history since this where the U.S. built a blockhouse in 1839 to help protect its land claim on this vast wilderness.
So yes, be sure to visit the area’s historic, and aptly named, Fort Kent Blockhouse while you’re here.
Plus, if you have a little extra time on your hands, you could always do a small side trip to either the Allagash Wilderness Waterway or Aroostook State Park.
How Many Miles: 37 miles
Driving Time: About an hour
Start and End Location: Start in Portage, Maine and end in Fort Kent, Maine.
16. Grafton Notch Scenic Byway (Route 26)
This is one of the most interesting scenic drives in Maine. The Grafton Notch scenic byway takes you along the Bear river. If you are headed this way in fall, you will not be able to tear your eyes away from the colorful scenery.
Wondering what you are going to see along the way? Well waterfalls for one. This is my favorite route for chasing waterfalls in Maine and the drive is super chill so I don’t have to exert myself. Mahoosuc mountain range, Grafton Notch State park and Lake Umbagog are also highlights of the route!
Pro Tip: Plan for a stop at Grafton Notch Park. There are loads of hiking paths with spectacular views!
How Many Miles: 21 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour
Start And End Location: Starts in Newry and ends at Grafton Notch park
Additional Maine Resources You Will Love
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- 12 of the Best Hikes in Acadia National Park
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