With more forest cover than any other state, countless crystalline lakes, remote stretches of river, and a handful of the best state parks in the country, Maine is a camper’s paradise. I came to Maine in no small part because of the opportunities to pitch a tent here, and I have many sleeping-bag nights to go before I even scratch the surface of what the state has to offer. Bugs are a camper concern during the early summer—mosquitos and blackflies have driven less hearty outdoorsfolk out of the Maine woods—and nighttime temps can drop significantly during the shoulder seasons. But with adequate preparation, there is really no bad time to camp in the Pine Tree State, and devoted backcountry freaks will find just as many opportunities as family car-campers looking for something more genteel. These sites come recommended for a mix of scenic allure, amenities, and precious solitude.
Related: America's Most Scenic Campgrounds
Baxter State Park
Dominated by the mile-high swoop of Mount Katahdin, this 200,00-acre backcountry playground is likely a bit wilder than what many envision when they hear “state park,” but the frontcountry campgrounds have tent sites, lean-tos, and cabins with few luxuries (pit toilets, no showers), but perks like outdoor fireplaces and $1 canoe rentals on the honor system.
Cobscook State Park
With a higher concentration of bald eagles than anyplace else in the state, Cobscook attracts birders during the migration seasons. The huge tides around the peninsular park are another big draw, as are more than 100 campsites that accommodate tenters and RV-drivers, with showers, drinking water, modern plumbing—the works.
Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area
The Nature Conservancy manages this pocket wilderness in the shadow of Mount Katahdin, accessed only by hiking or paddling in. The organization also maintains a couple dozen spacious and impeccably clean lakeside campsites—with picnic tables, huge firepits, and clean latrines—available on a first-arrival basis with no reservations or fees.
Lily Bay State Park
Ninety campsites—many wooded, others lakeside—flank a cove on the east side of western Maine’s immense and impressive Moosehead Lake. The dramatic lakeside hump of Mount Kineo is just a few miles up the shore, and an easy, two-mile shoreline trail from the campground shows off the stunning blue of the lake.
Hermit Island Campground
With six sandy beaches that only campers can access (many just a stone’s throw from the campsites), it’s worth pitching a tent on this tiny island just to lay claim to a stretch of sand away from the crowds. That no RVs or hard-topped trailers are allowed only ups Hermit Island’s feel of silence and solitude.