North Maine Woods

Things to Know About the North Maine Woods


All parties flying in must abide by North Maine Woods Rules & Regulations. Land Use Permits are available from many commercial brush pilots or you may obtain them from North Maine Woods, P.O. Box 425, Ashland, ME 04732. If you use an open fire in a designated fire permit campsite, a fire permit must be obtained from the Maine Forest Service in advance of your trip.


Outfitters, transportation services, guides and flying services conducting business in the North Maine Woods are required to obtain a Commercial Land Use Permit. The purpose of the permit is to ensure that businesses operate within established safety guidelines to protect their customers as well as private landowners and to monitor the scope of business activity on lands managed by NMW.

A special permit is also required by individuals, guides, or outfitters wanting to place tree stands (more than ten days) or place animal baits for the purpose of hunting. Please call us prior to running bear hunting dogs during August and September. For more information and permits for these activities, contact the NMW office at 207-435-6213.


Mobile homes are not allowed in the NMW for recreational use. Only single vehicles less than 28 feet in length and vehicle and trailers with a combined length of less than 44 feet will be allowed entrance. Large vehicles within these limits may also be required to travel at certain low traffic periods through any checkpoint if requested by the checkpoint receptionist on duty.


No bicycles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles or horses are allowed at any time of year in the North Maine Woods area. This is necessary for logging road safety and to reduce the possibility for forest fires in hard to reach locations.


The roads within North Maine Woods are privately built for the purpose of managing the woodland area. Through traffic from Canada into Maine or Maine into Canada is not permitted via the road system in NMW. Recreationists may travel to their desired destinations within the area and then return to the country from which they entered. Parties entering at one of the Canadian Border checkpoints must leave via the same checkpoint.


The opportunity for hiking and backpacking is limited in the North Maine Woods area due to the absence of developed hiking trails. There are trails to some of the Maine Forest Service's fire towers and some abandoned roads are suitable for hiking, but there is no list available. Checkpoint receptionists or local forest rangers and game wardens may be able to direct you to suitable hiking areas.


The North Maine Woods map is intended to provide general information on the roads, checkpoint locations and major campsites in the area. It is not intended for navigation off the main roads. U.S.G.S. maps or the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer are recommended sources for more detailed maps of the NMW area, and these maps are available at many sporting and retail centers in Maine.


The weather varies greatly in Northern Maine. A local saying is "if you don't like the weather, wait a minute." May temperatures can range from 20 to 70 degrees on any given day and snow falls at least once during the month. During the summer, the temperatures average from 50 to 80 degrees. We suggest visitors pack clothing for both extremes. Rain is unpredictable with the average seasonal amount between 35 to 45 inches.

The temperatures begin to drop below freezing in mid-September with day time highs in the 50s. In November it is common for temperatures to approach 0 with highs in the 40s. Snow depths can build up anytime after the first week of November. Storms bringing up to 30 inches of snow have occurred anytime after mid-November. November hunters are cautioned to camp near main roads and listen to weather forecasts. In some years, visitors have had to abandon their vehicles over the winter due to deep snow fall in remote areas that were not accessed by winter plow crews.


Biting insects are common most of the summer. Visitors should be equipped with insect repellant at all times. The peak time for mosquitos and black flies is from the end of May through July. Daily periods of increased insect activities are during morning and evening hours. Visitors who are allergic to insect bites or bee stings should remember to bring precautionary medication.


Water supplies within the North Maine Woods area are not tested for safety. It is recommended that you bring water from a known safe source. If that is not feasible, you should not drink water directly from any stream or pond without treating it to kill bacteria and other organisms such as the protozoan Giardia lamblia. The best and safest way to treat the water is to boil it for at least one minute. While other methods are available, they may not be totally effective against Giardia organisms and are not recommended.


Operation Game Thief, which is financed by private citizens, pays cash for information on poachers. If you see someone violating Maine's fish and game laws, call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-253-7887. Callers may collect rewards up to $1,000.00 while remaining anonymous.


Arsonists cause one out of every four Maine wildfires, endangering people, burning homes, destroying timber and wildlife, and degrading Maine's air and water quality. These losses can be reduced if citizens report information about arson to the Maine Forest Service.

If you have information about wildfire arson, call the Maine Forest Service Arson Prevention Number, 1-800-987-0257. Your call will be kept in strict confidence. Maine's forest rangers and all citizens appreciate your help.

Camping in the North Maine Woodscamping-collage

Camping permits are issued at the checkpoint upon entrance to the North Maine Woods area. Camping is allowed at designated, marked camping areas for a two week maximum time per campsite. The North Maine Woods map, DeLorme's Maine Atlas and Gazetteer, and maps at the checkpoints show campsite locations.

Due to the expanse of the area and staff limitations, campsites are available on a first come/first served basis. Reservations are not accepted.

There are two types of campsites available for use:

  • Authorized Campsites
    While all campsites are rustic, there are steel firerings, cedar picnic tables, and toilets at authorized campsites. Fires may be carefully built in the steel firerings. A Maine Forest Service Fire Permit is not required.

  • Designated Fire Permit Campsites
    These are locations where overnight camping is allowed but where building camp fires requires a Maine Forest Service Fire Permit. The locations of designated fire permit campsites are shown by a different symbol on the maps. These campsites have fewer facilities than authorized campsites. Although many fire permit campsites are not as attractive as authorized campsites, November hunters prefer sheltered locations rather than windswept lake shore campsites.

We strongly urge obtaining a fire permit in advance of arrival at NMW. The most convenient location to obtain information and fire permits is the Northern Region Headquarters in Ashland. This may be done by telephone at (207) 435-7963 Monday through Friday 8 - 4pm.

Rangers may also be available to issue fire permits at the following locations or while on patrol in the area.

Ashland Regional Headquarters (207)435-7963
Old Town Regional Headquarters (207)827-6191
Allagash District - Portage (207)435-6644
Aroostook Water District - Masardis (207)435-6975
Aroostook Water District - Daaquam (418)244-3609
Moosehead District - Greenville (207)695-3721
Allagash Store House (207)398-3196
East Branch District - Island Falls (207)463-2331


In addition to camping, overnight accommodations are provided by commercial recreational facilities within and adjacent to the area. Over 50 businesses including sporting lodges, housekeeping camps, outfitters, and guiding services provide overnight accommodations. A list of these businesses is available at checkpoints, from the main office or on our on-line business directory (see menu above) with links to web sites showing what the businesses have to offer. The businesses listed on our web site are licensed by NMW to operate in the area and insured to provide safe visits for guests. The Maine Sporting Camps Owners Association,P.O. Box 89, Jay, ME 04239 has a detailed brochure of its members including a map of locations and lists services provided.


Cutting live trees for firewood or to use as tent supports is prohibited. You are welcome to use dead and downed wood for your fire at an authorized location. Extreme caution is always the rule. Remember a small fire is best for cooking. By Maine law there is a $50.00 fine for leaving any fire unattended. The steel fire-ring is the only place a fire may be built at an authorized campsite.

Moving a steel fire-ring or building your own rock fireplace at authorized sites is not permitted. When building a fire at a designated fire permit campsite, use caution and common sense in locating your fire. Use existing fireplaces if they are available and safe. By Maine law, having an unauthorized cooking or warming fire is illegal and punishable by fines. Fires outside a steel-ring require a written fire permit from the Maine Forest Service.


Since the inception of North Maine Woods in the early 1970's, the organization has strived to keep visitor fees reasonable, so the region is accessible to everyone.  Fees are charged to cover operational expenses related to maintaining checkpoints and campsites.  None of the user fees are shared with landowners or any other group.  NMW is a non-profit corporation; no stockholders, no dividends, and no profit sharing.  All fees are set a a level to cover annual operational expenses.

Over the last forty-nine years, day use fees have correlated with Maine's minimum wage - if someone was willing to work an hour at the minimum wage, this would afford them a day in the NMW.  In 1976 Maine's minimum wage was $2.30 and the day use fee was $2.  In 1986 the minimum wage was $4.85, and the NMW daily fee was $4.  In 2019 the wage is $11.00 and the fee $11.00.

As you may know, in November of 2016, Maine voters approved a 20% increase in Maine's minimum wage from $7.50 to $9 for 2017, plus $1 incremental increases until 2020, when the minimum will reach $12 per hour.  With over forty-five seasonal employees, we have no recourse but to increase user fees accordingly in order to maintain operations and keep the NMW open to the public.

Fortunately, the organization has converted some staffed checkpoints to automated checkpoints which will reduce the impact of this change on payroll costs.  The organization has also made investments in solar energy and other aspects of operations which will help keep operating costs and visitor fees reasonable.

PLEASE NOTE:  Checkpoints only accept CASH or CHECKS
Fee Schedule
Under 18 Free Day Use + Camping Free Day Use + Camping
Age 70 & Over Free Day Use Free Day Use
Per Person Per Day $11.00 $16.00
Camping Per Night (in addition to daily fee) $12.00 $15.00

Over 70 / Camping Only Season Pass

Over 70 / Camping Only Annual Pass





Day Use Annual Registration $140.00 NA
Day Use + Unlimited Camping Annual Registration $250.00 NA

Special Reduced Seasonal Rates
Seasonal Day Use Pass (Summer Season: May 1st - Sept. 30th) $80.00 $115.00
Day Use + Unlimited Camping Season Registration $140.00 $180.00


 Seasonal Day Use Pass (Fall Season:  Aug. 20th - Nov. 30th) $80.00  $115.00 

Other Special Rates and Fees
Commercial Sporting Camp Visitors Round Trip (for stays of 4 days or more) $30.00 $50.00
Leaseholders and Internal Landowners of record may purchase 2 annual passes through NMW office $60.00 $60.00
Guest passes for leaseholders and internal landowners of record may purchase up to 8 through the NMW office** $90.00 $90.00
Visiting Interior Businesses for Meals or Supplies $1.00 $1.00
** These passes can be used over and over by different guests throughout the year. Each may purchase up to 8.

While Canadian funds are accepted and an attempt to provide a fair exchange is made, we suggest that Canadian funds be exchanged for U.S. currency before arrival at the checkpoints.

General Regulations

The rules and regulations of North Maine Woods are few and simple. Your cooperation and good common sense will keep them that way.

  • Every visitor must log in and log out at one of the checkpoints on each visit.
  • Drive slowly and carefully. Watch for trucks and pull over.
  • Be careful with fire. Build fires only in the authorized steel fire-rings provided.
  • Fires outside a steel ring require a written fire permit from the Maine Forest Service.
  • Dispose of cigarettes or cigars properly.
  • Whenever you stop, pull as far off the road as you can conveniently. Do not block side roads. Even unused roads may be needed in case of fire or other emergency.
  • Do not leave trash at your campsite or along the roads and waters. Please carry your trash out.
  • Lights on for Safety