At first glance you may think we are partial when we declare the Katahdin Region of Maine the best place to photograph Moose. However, we don’t think touting the Katahdin Region as the best place to see and photograph Moose is far-fetched. Aptly named the Katahdin Region after the mountain that casts its shadow over some of Maine’s most productive Moose habitat – Mark has personally taken over 65,000 Moose images in the Katahdin Region.
Living here certainly has its advantages. We also lead outdoor photography workshops “focused” on photographing the region’s spectacular landscapes and abundant wildlife including Moose which means we scout for Moose extensively. That is not to say we are successful every time we venture out to photograph Moose. We are not.
Moose “hot spots” change from year to year and Moose can be fickle when it comes to the weather. As a result, one could argue that no matter where you want to photograph Moose the more time you devote to the pursuit the better your chances. We agree. But that being said, we still think the Katahdin Region is the best place to photograph Moose.
But what makes the Katahdin Region of Maine the best place to photograph Moose you ask?
For us the Katahdin Region stands out as the best place to see and photograph Moose because of the numerous conservation and recreation lands that have been set aside for just such pursuits. These lands provide an abundance of quality Moose habitat and it just so happens much of these lands are spectacularly beautiful. Encompassing over a half million acres there is no shortage of photo ops in the Katahdin Region. Located in Maine’s expansive North Woods the Katahdin Region is only an hour from Bangor, two hours from the coast of Maine, and 4 hours from Boston. For those who enjoy venturing out on their own we offer a short list of the best places to photograph Moose in the Katahdin Region.
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park itself is probably the most often heard about “best place to photograph Moose” in the Katahdin Region of Maine. A gift to the people of Maine by former Governor Percival Baxter, Baxter State Park encompasses over 200,000 acres. Much of the land serves as a wildlife sanctuary with its prime mission to remain “forever wild”. There are over 200 miles of trails and more than 50 ponds in Baxter State Park. Majestic Katahdin, Maine’s tallest peak is within the park’s boundaries. The park can be quite crowded during peak Moose viewing seasons. A couple of the easily accessible Moose viewing areas (Sandy Stream Pond and Stump Pond) are designated as such and limited in size. Baxter State Park is still worth a visit though. The further you get off the beaten path or in this case the park’s Tote Road the better your chances of photographing Moose in a less congested area. Consider visiting Dwelley, Elbow, Grassy, and Kidney Ponds for their quality Moose habitat and picturesque landscapes.
Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area
We can not say enough about this area. The Nature Conservancy’s Debsconeag Lakes Wildness Area is both remote and beautiful with much of the lands consisting of prime Moose habitat. There is plenty of shoreline to explore by canoe or kayak which is one of our favorite ways to photograph Moose. If you are interested in a wonderful paddle take a look at Chapter 70 in the Appalachian Mountain Clubs book Quiet Water Maine for help in exploring these waters. Also, the Katahdin Area Chamber of Commerce has just published a new Trail Guide that can be requested through their website. For photographers who enjoy photographing and hiking there are also many trails to explore, and chances of seeing and photographing Moose are excellent. A high clearance vehicle is a must when accessing these lands.
The Golden Road
The Golden Road, a private logging road that runs approximately 100 miles from Millinocket to Quebec is considered a best place to view and photograph Moose by many locals. Stop by Moose prints Gallery for a Points of Interest handout that highlights Moose viewing ponds as well as scenic highlights along the Golden Road. Safety should be your first concern when traveling this road. Not only could a Moose pop out at anytime, the logging trucks literally own this private road. It is important to watch for trucks running in either direction both in front of and behind you (through your review mirror). When you spot a logging truck approaching pull off to the side of road (as far as practical) to allow them to pass comfortably. Consider that a fully loaded logging truck cannot easily stop so give them plenty of room. Public access is adjacent to the North Woods Trading Post at Millinocket Lake. The road is mostly gravel so be sure to have a full size spare tire.
Katahdin Woods and Waters Loop Road
The newly opened 18 mile park loop road on the Katahdin Woods and Waters Recreation Area lands east of Baxter State Park is well worth a visit. Managed by Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., these lands were protected by Philanthropist Roxanne Quimby of Burt’s Bees fame for the sole purpose of donating the lands to the National Park service as a gift to the American people. With unsurpassed panoramic views of Katahdin and its surrounding landscape the area has experienced limited human activity in recent years and as a result a healthy Moose population has developed. For photographers who are interested in getting off on their own there are also many old logging roads to explore on foot and it is one of the few places that bicycles are permitted in the region’s forests. Orin Falls on the remote picturesque Wassataquoik Stream can be accessed by bicycle from the Loop Road and is well worth a visit. You are also likely to see Black Bear, Bobcat, Coyote, Lynx, Pine Martin, Red Fox, and Snowshoe Hare when visiting these lands. The Loop Road and access to it is unpaved. A high clearance four wheel drive is highly recommended.
Maine North Woods
The KI Jo Mary District of the Maine North Woods (south of Millinocket) is a great place to see and photograph Moose. The area has hundreds of miles of logging roads which equals good Moose habitat. Logging activity regenerates the forest providing good habitat for Moose and other wildlife. For those who enjoy photographing waterfalls, picturesque Gulf Hagus along the 100 Mile Wilderness Stretch of the Appalachian Trail is in this area as well. Access is via a well maintained gravel road.
Other thoughts on photographing Moose
The time of year (or season) makes the biggest difference in where and how many Moose you are likely to see and photograph. Take a look at our recent blog post Moose Photography Workshops and Moose Tours: What’s the Difference for more detail on best time of year to see and photograph moose. If you are limited on time or prefer to participate in a guided experience as opposed to venturing out on your own when visiting the Katahdin Region check out our schedule of group photography workshops during prime Moose viewing seasons.
As always we encourage you to respect the visitor rules associated with each of these conservation and recreation lands. While they may differ slightly (from one to another) be mindful of the cumulative impacts of human visitors. All areas are designated “carry in and carry out” – leave no trace – take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints!
We hope to see you in the woods, Mark and Anita