Where is it?
The beautiful state of Maine, which forms the uppermost northeastern portion of the United States and borders with Canada, boasts two very apt nicknames: Vacationland, and the Pine Tree State. Despite being the largest of the New England states, with 35,385 square miles, the population is not very great, showing only 1,330,089 residents as of 2014. (Compare that to the city of New York, with 8.406 million.) This makes Maine the 41st most densely populated state in the union, but this very fact is one of the draws for tourists, who are attracted to Maine’s forests and scenic rugged coastline. Though the state’s largest city is Portland, the capital city is Augusta.
Getting around in Maine
Motorists often first enter Maine via Interstate 95, crossing the Piscatiqua River from New Hampshire into Kittery. Perhaps unexpectedly, Maine offers more miles of coastline than California, at a whopping 3,478 miles. Naturally, there are plenty of scenic routes to take advantage of this situation. I-95, called the Main Turnpike, and Route 1A afford the best access to the many wonderful towns along the coast, which include York, Kennebunkport, Saco, and Old Orchard Beach. While Route 1 might trace the coast more directly, I-95 can often take a driver to their coastal destination more speedily. I-95 branches off into the spur routes I-195, I-295, I-395, I-495. Other major highways include US 201, a spur of Route 1, and US 202, which travels from east to west. Maine State Route 9 will take one north from the New Hampshire border to the Canadian border, while Maine State Route 6 runs east from the border of Canada at Quebec to the Canadian border at New Brunswick. As for other modes of transportation, Amtrak’s so-called Downeaster line travels a 145 mile route from Brunswick to North Station in Boston, with ten stops along the way, one of which is Portland.
What do local people drive?
In recent years there’s been a lot of hype that the Subaru is Maine’s favorite car, and although Subarus are indeed very popular there, holding nine percent of the auto sales market, in fact the bestselling vehicle in 2012 was the Ford F-150 pickup truck, a top seller in so many states, with 34,144 registered vehicles. Following in second place was the Toyota Camry, with 24,369 registered vehicles.
Off-road vehicles such as snowmobiles, ATVs, and off-road motorcycles (which in Maine are also considered All Terrain Vehicles) require special registration fees. No matter when this registration is acquired, it covers the period between July 1st of the current year to June 30th of the next. Currently, the registration fee for a snowmobile is $41, whereas the fee for an ATV is $34. Though it is possible to renew registration online, for initial registration a resident of Maine is required to visit a designated agent. Nonresidents, such as tourists, are permitted to register online for $69, this registration being good for a year’s time, again spanning the period between July 1st and June 30th of the following year. With over 4,000 miles of specially designated ATV roads, Maine is an off-road driver’s dream. Snowmobilers will be similarly excited to visit Maine, which provides an sprawling 13,000 miles of official snowmobile trails. Snowmobilers need to be careful not to exceed reasonable speeds, but there is no set speed limit.
Tourism in Maine
Beyond off-road vehicle fun, Maine has much to offer tourists, especially those who appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors. The foliage is spectacular, particularly between late September and early October, when there are special foliage hikes at state parks such as Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport, Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, and Mount Blue State Park in Weld, plus numerous other locations. Campers and RV enthusiasts have near boundless opportunities throughout the state, at state parks and public lands in addition to privately owned campgrounds. As the most visited national park in the USA, Acadia National Park is an especially gorgeous location, where tourists can watch the sunrise from the pink granite summit of Cadillac Mountain, hike forest trails, or swim at stretches of beach that break up the photogenic rocky shoreline. Park goers can then proceed to nearby Bar Harbor, for shopping and dining in any number of excellent restaurants. Needless to say, lobster and other fresh seafood isn’t hard to find on the menu. Tourists from other countries are often to be found wandering Bar Harbor’s quaint streets, having come in on cruise ships that have dropped anchor. Whale watches out of Bar Harbor will give tourists a look at eagles, puffins, and postcard perfect lighthouses. Though there is no longer ferry service between Bar Harbor and Nova Scotia, one can still take a ferry to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia from the city of Portland, at least between the middle of May and start of November.
Do You Know that…
1. Maine’s capital city Augusta is the third smallest capital city in the USA, and only the eight largest city in the state.
2. In Maine, it is illegal to park in front of a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shop!
3. The maximum legal speed limit in Maine is 75 miles per hour.
4. Maine has 23,450 miles of public roadway.
5. There are 932,455 registered drivers in Maine, out of 1,330,089 residents, giving the state the rank of 40 in terms of the most registered drivers.
6. The minimum age for a resident of Maine to receive a driver’s license is 16.5 years.
7. 2013 saw 144 traffic related fatalities in Maine, 21 fewer than in 2012.
8. A BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08%. and higher constitutes drunk driving in Maine, while a teenager must show no alcohol in their system whatsoever.
9. A driver may lose their license for 90 days if they refuse to submit to or fail a test to determine if they are driving under the influence.
10. In 2013, the most stolen type of vehicle in Maine was the full-sized Ford pickup.