Augusta/Kennebec: Thrilling snowmobiling & whitewater rafting
The highlights of this pristine, wooded region of inland Maine are outdoor recreation, especially whitewater rafting and snowmobiling, and the capital city of Augusta, a place of historic buildings, antique shops, and excellent restaurants. This year-round vacation destination, particularly enticing for families with children, includes the Upper Kennebec and Moose river valleys. The region is full of opportunities for hiking, bicycling, paddle sports, rafting, fishing, hunting, and snowmobiling.
The Forks – where the Dead and Kennebec rivers join -- is the state’s hot spot for whitewater rafting. The 12-mile Kennebec River trip begins on Indian Pond and roars through the spectacular Upper Kennebec Gorge; the Dead River provides the longest stretch of white water in the East. Several professional river rafting organizations offer boats, crews, guides, and accommodations. The arrival of winter brings snowmobiling enthusiasts to travel the 100 miles of interconnected trails in the region. Jackman is a major snowmobiling center and the entryway to the 1,100-mile Northeast Snowmobile Trail. People who enjoy the outdoors at a slower pace can drive Route 201 and the Old Canada Road through lovely woodlands and old-time villages like Solon and Bingham.
Augusta, the state capital and gateway to the region, is anchored by its State House (1829) with its impressive 180-foot dome, designed by architect Charles Bullfinch. The Maine State Museum describes 12,000 years of Maine life through lifelike exhibits and more than 2,000 artifacts. Fort Western, in Augusta, was built in 1754 and is the oldest surviving wooden fort in New England. Benedict Arnold used it as a staging point for his assault on Quebec during the American Revolution. Today, the fort offers living history programs that replicate daily life during the 18th century. August has plentiful lodging for all tastes, from luxury hotels and spas to inns and B&Bs.