In this May 22, 2020, file photo, Scott Warren, owner of Megunticook Campground by the Sea in Rockport, hangs a new sign at the entrance of the campground. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

It’s not even summer, but Maine’s most popular campgrounds are already booked solid for almost every weekend in July and August.

That comes as Maine anticipates a record number of campers this summer as people look to escape into the great outdoors after a long winter cooped up inside under pandemic restrictions.

As of last Thursday, approximately 53 percent of state park campsites have been booked from May 24 to Sept. 12, according to the Portland Press Herald. Last year, 61 percent of all sites that were able to be reserved were filled throughout the entire season.

After Sept. 12, all campsites open on a first-come, first-served basis until the parks close for the season.

Campers on the lookout for choice campsites may be limited in their search, as there are very few extended-period reservations left at parks around the state. State parks allow campers to reserve up to 14 consecutive nights at the campground of their choice, but the influx of interest means that campers may only be able to secure a two- or three-night stay.

The influx of people looking to get outside marks a growing trend of more people exploring outdoor recreation opportunities. In 2020, the Bureau of Parks and Lands welcomed record numbers of both day-hikers and campers, and recorded an 8 percent increase in camping reservations from 2019.

Acadia National Park saw a record-breaking number of visitors over the winter season, with almost 30,000 more visitors this past winter than in previous years.

Maine parks and campgrounds continue to require visitors to maintain community health and safety protocols, including wearing a mask at all times. While hikers are not required to wear masks throughout their entire journey, they are encouraged to mask up when encountering others on the trail.

Some campgrounds that had offered rental services before the onset of the pandemic are assessing ways to provide these services to campers, but have not yet decided whether rentals will be available.

Reservations, while they last, can be made at campwithME.com. All campers are required to make a reservation at least a day before their planned stay. Walk-in reservations are not offered at this time.

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is a journalism and anthropology student at the University of Maine, and will graduate in May. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley and staying active in the Maine...