A color tour in Maine is what the fall season is all about. Road tripping through the beautiful state with leaves of warm hews dropping around you is magical.
In this article, we share the best scenic routes for a fall foliage road trip in the state. Here’s the best time to catch the colors at their peak.
Let’s get rolling!
What Is Maine Like in the Fall?
Driving through Maine in the fall will introduce you to the brilliant red, orange, brown, and other autumn leaf colors. The state goes all out during this season to make the experience extra special. You’ll likely find apples, pie, and cider along your route.
Apple orchards offer fresh apples, cider, donuts, and more. While the temperatures are dropping in the region, a stop for some hot apple cider, hot chocolate, or mulled wine is a must.
Looking to plan a fall camping trip? Find out if campgrounds remain open during autumn.
What Is the Best Time to See Fall Colors in Maine?
The fall colors peak in Maine between the last week of September and the first week of October; the timing can differ slightly from year to year. We recommend keeping an eye on the autumn color map for the state.
Your Guide to a Stunning Fall Foliage Road Trip — Maine 2022
We put together a road trip guide that ensures you get the most out of the fall foliage in Maine. So gas up your vehicle, and let’s go!
The Coast of Maine: Rockport to Bar Harbor
About the Route: Driving along Maine’s coast is beautiful and a sure way to eat seafood daily. The rugged and lively coastline from Rockport to Bar Harbor is one of the most epic places in the state to be in the autumn. You’ll see the colors reflecting in the Atlantic Ocean and its bays.
Top Things to See or Places to Stop: There are several small towns on the route to stop for food, shopping, and seaside rest stops. Take your time to soak them all in.
Once you get to Bar Harbor, we highly recommend spending a day or two in Acadia National Park. The park is gorgeous during the peak of the fall colors, and the unspoiled landscape is worth the drive.
Castine and Penobscot Bay Loop
About the Route: The Castine and Penobscot Bay Loop goes through small fishing towns. The 79-mile loop makes for a lovely day trip with stops along the way for seafood, picturesque views and architecture, and a glimpse of the coastline.
Top Things to See or Places to Stop: History buffs will love Castine. It’s one of the oldest communities in Maine and a great place to learn about the northeastern culture.
The Blue Hill Peninsula has several towns on the route that are worth a stop. And we recommend the Dice Head Light at the mouth of the Penobscot River, a show stopper with the fall foliage as a backdrop.
Bold Coast National Scenic Byway
About the Route: The Bold Coast National Scenic Byway is a 125-mile loop. It goes along Maine’s rugged northern coast, setting off from Bar Harbor. You’ll get to see a lot of lighthouses and colorful trees on the route.
Top Things to See or Places to Stop: Be sure to stop and see the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec. It’s the first place that the sunlight touches U.S. soil in the morning. In addition, there are exhibits in the visitor’s center that are worth checking out.
Roosevelt Campobello International Park is another stop we recommend. It houses a historic cottage, the summer home of President Roosevelt, and flower gardens.
Acadia National Park
About the Route: Acadia National Park stands out because of its unspoiled beauty and wilderness. The fall is one of the best times to visit for vibrant red and orange leaves. We recommend spending a full day in the park. Then, you can take a slow scenic drive and take short hikes.
Top Things to See or Places to Stop: Acadia National Park is about 50,000 acres with various sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, there are 33 miles of scenic roadways and more than 150 miles of hiking trails. You can easily spend a week here and not see it all.
We recommend starting with the east side of Mount Desert Island, which is the most popular part of the national park. It’s a 27-mile loop.
SPOILER: Acadia makes our list of the 5 Best Autumn RV Destinations — find out what the other 4 are!
Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway Loop
About the Route: The Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway Loop is 35 miles. It takes you through mountains and passes lakes like Upper Richardson Lakes. The scenery during the fall is breathtaking, and you’re likely to get glimpses of wildlife. There are also cute New England villages to take a break along the route.
Top Things to See or Places to Stop: Height of Land is one of the best parts of this route. You can see lakes, mountains, and the White Mountains in New Hampshire. But best of all, you’re surrounded by forests with leaves changing color.
We also recommend visiting Mooselookmeguntic Lake. It’s in the town of Oquossoc. A great way to experience autumn here is by renting a boat and seeing the trees from the water.
Bangor to Houlton, Maine
About the Route: Bangor to Houlton is the most northern route. It’s about 214 miles, and there’s plenty to see. However, the peak for fall colors gets to Houlton fairly early, so be sure to plan your road trip accordingly. If you take more than a few days for the route, we recommend traveling north to south to ensure you see the best foliage.
Top Things to See or Places to Stop: The route from Bangor to Houlton is a region known for potatoes, so be sure to order them at a local restaurant.
There are several towns to stop at on the route. We recommend pulling off on side roads to explore a little deeper into Maine’s forests.
Also, ask locals where you might spot a moose. A fall color tour is also an ideal time to see wildlife since fewer tourists are around this time of year.
Western Maine Fryeburg-Bethel Loop
About the Route: The Western Maine Fryeburg-Bethel Loop is approximately 120 miles. It’s a beautiful part of the state and a great place to stop for apples or do some antique shopping. In addition, the historic town of Fryeburg is the home of a large fall country fair.
Top Things to See or Places to Stop: Fryeburg’s historic district is the biggest draw to this loop. You can visit its 11 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. It also has a dozen parks you can walk through and witness autumn unfold.
The Scottish and Irish Merchant is a recommended stop in Bethel, and you will also find antique stops in the town.
About the Route: The Belgrade Drive begins in Augusta and goes through the Winthrop Lakes and Belgrade Lakes regions. It’s about 120 miles long. You’ll get to experience stunning fall foliage in and around the small towns on the route.
Top Things to See or Places to Stop: Augusta is the capital of Maine and holds a lot of history. It’s worth spending a half to full-day walking around to see the architecture. You may also want to check out the Maine State Museum in Augusta.
Another recommended stop on the route is a 1754 National Historic Landmark called Old Fort Western. It’s in Augusta on the Kennebec River. It makes for a beautiful setting, especially during the fall.
Is Maine a Good Place to Visit in the Fall?
Maine is one of the best places in the U.S. to visit in the fall. The state is full of forests with leaves that change into brilliant colors. And, with its coastline, rivers, and lakes, you’re guaranteed an opportunity to see the reflections of the fall foliage in crisp northern waterways.
We highly recommend visiting Maine during the fall. Besides the beautiful trees, it’s also a time of year with fewer crowds. So you can get around to all the hot spots without waiting in line or getting stuck in traffic.
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