Mysterious may be the word that comes to mind when thinking of the state tucked away in the farthest northeast corner of the U.S. Dense forests extend for miles, and mountains and rivers beckon the wild at heart. The crashing whitewater of the Atlantic thundering into the cliffs and jetties on its eastern seaboard makes Maine feel untamed, undiscovered, and ripe for a grand adventure.
Of course, Maine has its modern treasures like any other state in the 21st century, but the heart of the Pine Tree State is in its vast wilderness.
Inhabited hundreds of years after the end of the last Ice Age by Indigenous peoples, the first European settlers didn’t make landfall in the territory that would become Maine until 1604.
However, few of these settlements lasted due to the rugged landscape and harsh seasons. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that the area that would be Maine was settled permanently and widely, though then, it was still a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
But in 1820, as a part of the Missouri Compromise, Maine became the 23rd state in the union.
A hidden gem, Maine is not to be overlooked when planning a vacation to explore the far-flung reaches of the U.S.Below are some must-see sites and places when you find yourself way up north:
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument: A refuge for centuries for humans seeking solace, space, and communion with nature, this National Park near Patten, ME, is a singular wonder. Nestled in the shadow of Mount Katahdin, the landscape is as diverse and beautiful as the state in which it resides. Rivers, streams, deep forests, wildflowers, and wildlife all inhabit and spread across Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Hiking and camping are popular activities here, but bird lovers come from miles around to peep at the multitude of wild species found here.
When the weather turns ice cold, Katahdin Woods and Waters keep moving, with snowmobilers and skiers flocking to its pristine and stunning backdrop for some fun in the snow.
Maine Acadian Culture: For history lovers, this Maine treasure is a can’t miss. For centuries, early French settlers known as Acadians inhabited and prospered on the land throughout the surrounding St. John valley that spans from Maine to Eastern Canada. This National Park allows visitors to learn more about these people’s unique history. Maine Acadians share common histories, religious beliefs, cultural heritage, and languages that still resonate in the modern world. Stop in to see the unique architecture of the churches and barns and sample some of the local art. Or take a stroll along the St. John River and imagine life in the wilds of the Northeast.
St. Croix Island International Historic Site: Another thing that sets Maine apart from other states is its proximity and friendship with its neighbor to the north, Canada. No more remarkable example of that lasting bond can be found than in this International Historic Site marking the lives lived and lost on an exploration expedition in 1604–1605. It marked the earliest days of French exploration in North America and would lead to the eventual settlement of the Acadian region and later Maine. Stop in to learn more about the struggle and hard-fought rugged independence of the people who arrived here.