Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec

Maine is known for its beaches, islands and mountain vistas. Now, if you’re a Maine resident, you can enjoy some of them for free.

Gov. Paul LePage has declared that most state parks and historic sites will be free for day visits from now through Labor Day. This offers the perfect reason to take the family to the beach or to climb a mountain or hike through the woods.

Last year, nearly 2.5 million people visited the state’s parks and historic sites. The year, before, 2.6 million did so, a record number.

Offering free admission, the governor said in a press release, is a way to thank Maine taxpayers for supporting these public lands.

“Maine state parks and historic sites have experienced record-breaking attendance in recent years,” the governor said. “Our park staff have worked very hard to enhance the visitor experience with new offerings, year-round events and educational programs for all ages. Public support has never been higher.

“This is our way of saying thank you to the Maine people. Please take this opportunity to visit a Maine state park or historic site and make some memories with family and friends.”

Free day use does not include camping fees.

Want to visit an ocean beach? Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg is one of the state’s most popular. Prefer to swim in a lake? Peaks-Kenny in Dover-Foxcroft, Lake St. George in Liberty and Rangeley Lake are great options.

Camden Hills, Aroostook and Bradbury Mountain state parks are among the many parks that offer miles of hiking trails with scenic vistas. Eagle Island Historic Site in Casco Bay is home to Arctic explorer Adm. Robert Peary’s summer residence. Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec is the easternmost point in the United States.

Many state parks and historic sites offer organized activities for families and individuals. Kids can dig for artifacts at Colonial Pemaquid on Aug. 18. Mount Blue State Park in Weld is having one of its many nature scavenger hunts Aug. 15. You can learn to surf fish at Reid State Park in Georgetown on Aug. 15 or Wolfe’s Neck State Park in Freeport on Aug. 29.

Many parks also offer boat launches for a day of fishing.

Parks and historic sites offering free admission through Sept. 3 are: Androscoggin Riverlands, Aroostook, Birch Point, Bradbury Mountain, Camden Hills, Cobscook Bay, Colburn House, Colonial Pemaquid, Crescent Beach, Damariscotta Lake, Eagle Island, Ferry Beach, Fort Edgecomb, Fort Kent, Fort McClary, Fort Point, Fort Popham, Fort Pownall, Fort O’Brien, Grafton Notch, Holbrook Island, Lamoine, Lake St. George, Lily Bay, Moose Point, Mt. Blue, Owls Head Light, Peaks-Kenny, Popham Beach, Quoddy Head, Range Pond, Rangeley Lake, Reid, Roque Bluffs, Two Lights, Sebago Lake, Shackford Head, Swan Lake, Vaughan Woods, Warren Island and Wolfe’s Neck Woods.

The free days do not apply to Peacock Beach, the Maine Wildlife Park, Scarborough Beach State Park, Swan Island, Fort Knox Historic Site, the Penobscot River Corridor or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect and Songo Lock.

Baxter State Park, which is run by its own authority and not state government, and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway are not included in the free admission. Neither is Acadia National Park, which is administered by the federal government.

Three weeks of free visits to state parks and historic sites are a great opportunity for residents to explore Maine’s varied landscapes and to learn more about its history. Get out and enjoy.

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