Perhaps to show just how big your welcome will be if you visit the Kennebec and Moose River Valleys region of Maine, a 62-foot carved wooden statue of a Native American stands at the gateway to one town. On the plaque at his foot is this message: “This sculpture is dedicated to the Maine Indians, the first peoples to use these lands in peaceful ways.”
Comprised of a narrow, vertical strip of Maine geography that is divided by the Kennebec River, the “lands” in this region stretch south almost to the coast, and north to Canada’s Province of Quebec. Towns that nestle along the river include Jackman, Bingham, Madison, Skowhegan (home to that wooden Indian), Waterville, and the state’s capital, Augusta.
Each season in the Valleys has its own special appeal.
Summer, a time for outdoor activities, is when warm days are followed by cool nights. Plan your stay near the beautiful Belgrade Lakes and you will have easy access to swimming, kayaking, fishing, boating, hiking, camping and canoeing. If you fancy bird watching, bring your binoculars and look for loons, woodpeckers, and chickadees, Maine’s state bird.
Spring in the Kennebec and Moose River Valleys is best for walks in the awakening woods, browsing through the Maine State Museum with its rich historical archives, or taking the whole family to Old Fort Western, a National Historic Landmark built in 1754. Come in early March to enjoy Maine Maple Sunday demonstrations of maple syrup-making.
Fall just might be the perfect season to tour the Kennebec and Moose River Valleys. By then, the pace has slowed and the trees have put on their spectacular colors. The drive along Route 201 (called the Old Canada Road Scenic Byway) is the best way to experience the views, site for bald eagles, or ponder Mother Nature from a strategically located turnout.
Winter turns the valley region into a playground for all manner of fun. Stay warm with a rousing snowball fight, an afternoon of sledding or an invigorating walk on snowshoes, then cool down while enjoying a cup of cocoa in front of a roaring fire. During the holidays, visit one of several riverbank towns (Hallowell, Gardiner) that light up like Christmas trees to welcome and delight visitors of all ages. Carrabasset Valley and on over to the Rangeley Lakes.” She should know. “When people are still enjoying the July 4th holiday, I start working on the upcoming foliage season,” she laughs.