To say that Rangeley Maine is worth visiting is like saying the Grand Canyon is sort of cool. Rangeley is the apex adventure spot in the Maine Lakes and Mountains region, and the name applies to a town, a lake, and a state park.
What lobster is to coastal Maine, fish are to Rangeley. Instead of lighthouses dotting the landscape, you will see mountain tops in all directions. The focus is less on the coastline and more on dramatic waterfalls here.
Everything about this location is as natural as it is intentional. Rangeley hasn’t changed much in the past century, including the families that welcome you here. Even the minds of some big Hollywood stars have wandered back here.
“Rangeley, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I really do think that’s true. Rangeley is a spectacular place.”Actor Kurt Russell
About Rangeley Maine
One might wonder why a wooded, remote section of the country could end by being worthy of such attention. Two things have historically defined Rangeley — fish and tourism.
With more than 100 lakes and ponds, the Indigenous People first feasted on the waters here. Settlers came in 1810, and in 1820, Maine became a state. In 1825, the namesake James Rangeley, Jr., and his family arrived.
Unlike many towns that popped onto the map when the railways came through, Rangeley Maine became so popular that the railroad had no choice but to extend the routes.
What Rangeley Maine Is Known For Today
Rangeley is the epitome of a four-season destination. Along with offering things to do throughout the year, the area excels at each seasonal opportunity. It brings all the outdoor opportunities that you can handle — from roughing it to relaxing in a charming cabin.
As much as it is a tourist destination, it’s more like a place to call home and even just on a long weekend. The population is around 1,000, but the homes and rentals here get handed down by generations.
Rangeley has no intention of growing into a Kennebunkport. The main area of growth is for preserving the land and dark skies while protecting the habitats for plants and wildlife.
What to Expect From Rangeley’s Weather
Rangeley isn’t the snowiest place (that’s Caribou) or the coldest town (that’s Allagash) in Maine, but it does get a heaping dose of both. With anywhere from 9 to 12 feet of snow each winter, you must dress in warm layers for extended periods outdoors. Snowfall can accumulate well into April.
Temperatures slowly rise through summer, but looking at the average temperatures, you’ll likely not see a day above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Summer nights hover around 50 degrees.
Outdoor Things to Do in Rangeley Maine
Rangley’s tourism region includes the town of Rangeley, South Rangeley, Oquossoc, Mooselookmeguntic, Bald Mountain, and Mountain View. Across the entire area, you’ll find tons of recreational opportunities.
Explore the Lake(s)
Rangeley Lake is 6,000 acres with a maximum depth of 149 feet, and it feeds nearby Mooselookmeguntic Lake. Three public boat launch locations offer easy access to the bountiful fishing found here, with salmon and brook trout as headliners.
Several ponds and smaller lakes surround the mothership water destinations. The southwest side of Rangeley Lake is home to Rangeley Lake State Park.
TIP: Rangeley Lake is subject to high winds and potentially dangerous conditions on the water. Always check the weather forecast before planning lake activities.
Ride a Scenic Drive
Just 8% of Maine’s visitors in 2022 saw the fall foliage, which is like going to Disney World during Halloween and not riding the Tower of Terror.
Search the Night Sky
Rangeley’s “frozen in time” natural wonderland makes it a perfect place to visit one of the Dark Sky Trail locations. While the Northern Lights are never guaranteed, you can check the National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center forecast. Either way, you’ll be stunned by the celestial show.
Look for Wildlife
You can do yourself a favor by bingeing some Maine episodes of North Woods Law before your trip to Rangeley. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you’ll see animals above, below, and right in front of you.
Go Big on Birds
Birding is a big activity in this region, and if you need help finding the best spot, visit one of the locations along the Rangeley Lakes Birds Trail. Every summer, the Rangeley Birding Festival brings enthusiasts out for expert-guided tours.
If you’re new to bird-watching, look for the loons. Their diving for fish is sure to pique your interest. And, you can bring an underwater camera to see the actual feast.
Make Way for the Moose
Scout out a moose-sighting location. If you drive the 52-mile span between New Hampshire and Eustis Maine, you’ll be on “Moose Alley.” Or, get a better (and safer) view by going on a moose safari.
“Before driving Rangeley roads, learn about moose safety. More than 250 moose are hit on Maine roads each year. Their eyes don’t reflect in the headlights like deer because they’re taller. They are most active on roads in May and June.”
Be Ready for Bears
While Aroostook County is known for its bear sightings, Rangeley is still among the top places in the state for bears. You’ll need bear spray when camping or visiting the trails. Use a wildlife tour if you specifically want to see a bear. Don’t seek them out on your own.
Feast On the Fish
Rangeley is known as trophy fish territory. Its legendary fishing has been a top draw since Native Americans roamed the land. Throughout the area, you can catch — several types of trout, bass, salmon, and more. You’ll need a fishing license, and we want to see the photos of your big catch.
Go Chasing Waterfalls
One of many treasure troves in the Maine Mountains includes waterfalls. While most robust in spring, a frozen waterfall is just as awe-insuring. Snow melt can continue into summer, making waterfalls a wonderful choice.
Angel Falls is a beautiful, multi-tiered waterfall that drops over 90 feet into a rocky gorge. The short path to the falls will require some rock hopping.
The Cascade Stream Gorge offers a series of waterfalls with wildlife viewing potential. The 1-mile trail will end at a 90-foot drop from above. It’s located in the White Mountain National Forest.
If you’re going to stop at any roadside rest stop on any trip, this is the one. Smalls Falls gets its popularity from the surprise and simplicity of a four-part fall into a swimming hole below.
Stroll Through the State Park
Rangeley Lake State Park covers nearly 900 acres of pristine land. Soak in the views of Saddleback Mountain or hike a trail before staying at one of the 50 campsites.
If you want something bigger and/or less crowded, head to Mt. Blue State Park and Tumbledown Mountain, just 33 miles from Rangeley.
Scout a Favorite Ski Resort
Rangeley is rich with ski resort options within two hours. Saddleback is the nation’s largest independent ski resort. Sugarloaf boasts every kind of skiing possible with indoor adventures on top of that — like the antigravity complex.
See Rangeley From a Seaplane
Choose from various packages accommodating all budgets in a seaplane or float plane. Acadian Seaplane and Chickadee Aviation can customize your tour for mountains, wildlife, sunsets, or anything else you want to see.
Indoor Things to Do in Rangeley Maine
Rangeley has a range of things to do inside, including some spaces where you can learn more about the outdoors. Here’s a look at these indoor activities.
Learn About Logging
Throughout three levels and an outdoor section of the Maine Forestry Museum, you learn about the logging process from its early days to modern production. It will help you understand those logging roads in the region a lot better too.
Celebrate the Outdoors Inside
Rangeley is the think tank of outdoor activities, with some of the best fishing innovators and icons that created the tools that anglers use to this day. The Outdoor Heritage Museum walks you through prehistoric times to the present. It’s as much a cultural museum as a historic one.
Learn the Reich Way
If you know who Wilhelm Reich is, you’ll be either appalled or excited to tour his psychoanalytic haven on the hill overlooking Dodge Pond. If you don’t know who he is, it may be useful to learn about the Orgone Energy concept before you go to the Wilhelm Reich Museum.
Support the Arts
Take a Break to Play
Moose Alley (the entertainment complex, not the road) is a bowling, billiard, arcade, and restaurant that locals and tourists love. It’s open from breakfast through dinner.
Top Restaurants in Rangeley Maine
With so many things to do in Rangeley Maine, you’re sure to work up an appetite. The town and surrounding area have enough restaurants to feed any craving.
The Shed is the place for barbecue in Rangeley. You can follow directions or the smell of fresh meat to get there. Parkside & Maine offers great Rangeley Lake views in the summer and to-go orders for a relaxing night in your rental home.
For more than 53 years, The Red Onion has been feeding locals and tour buses (just call ahead), and the restaurant prides itself on using as many locally grown food products as possible.
The Furbish Brew House & Eats feels like coming home again. This charming restaurant is perfect for a summer Sunday brunch on the patio or an indoor prime rib dish on a crisp fall night.
The Corner Bar & Kitchen makes you think that the food menu is an afterthought to its extensive drink menu, but the food is just as fabulous. It had us at “Beer Brittle Chocolate Pretzel Bark.”
To call the dining room at the Rangeley Inn and Tavern a “tavern” is an understatement. The warmth of the chic cabin setting with wood burning fireplace welcomes you with intimate settings or round-the-fire discussions of daily adventures.
Coffee & Ice Cream Shops
Classic Provisions in Rangeley might be where you stop to get a cup of coffee, but the array of pastries and the breakfast panini will tempt you. If you’re heading to Sugarloaf, stop by Carrabassett Coffee Company at the mountain’s base village.
When getting the scoop on what to do in Rangeley, try a cone or sundae at Pine Tree Frosty.
Wineries & Breweries
While Maine has dozens of wineries, Rangeley is more about the brew than the berry. You can grab one of many Maine-made beers at Sarge’s Sports Pub & Grub. And, more than 20 Maine beers are on tap at the Portage Tap House in Oquossoc.
As the “Loafers” will tell you, the Widowmaker at Sugarloaf is the premiere apres ski destination for drinks and food in a family-friendly environment.
Comfortable Lodging in Rangeley Maine
From roughing it to quaint cabins to classic Maine charm, you have more options than you might realize in this remote region. The Hostel of Maine is even located at the base of Sugarloaf.
Select a Traditional Hotel
In town, you have a few options from the standard hotel setup at Saddleback Inn when you want budget accommodations and dog-friendly rooms (how much time will you spend in the room anyway?).
Pleasant Street Inn Bed & Breakfast offers upscale accommodations, with the owners providing concierge service. And, the Sugarloaf Inn puts hikers right at a trailhead. That’s not to be confused with the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel at the heart of the mountain recreation village.
Cozy Up in a Cabin
Lakeside cabins are the heartbeat of Rangeley Maine — like this Poet’s Cabin at the water’s edge. Rangeley Lake Resort offers the privacy of a cabin but the camaraderie of a bed and breakfast. Larger groups might like a chalet — such as Get Out of Dodge with panoramic views.
Camp Under the Starry Skies
When you want to get as close to nature as possible, stay at one of the many campsites — like the one at Rangeley Lake State Park. You can sleep between Rangeley Lake and Mooselookmeguntic Lake at Oquossoc Campground.
Cupsuptic Lake Park & Campground offers tent sites, tent cabins, and wilderness camping. Some campsites are on separate islands. To be at one with nature, Griffin Island on Mooselookmeguntic Lake has just one camping site. That means the island is all yours, with views and privacy in all directions.
FAQs About Rangeley Maine
How do you pronounce Mooselookmeguntic?
Mooselookmeguntic Lake is the third longest location name in the United States that doesn’t have a hyphen. It’s pronounced “Moose-LUK-muh-guhn-tick.”
This Native American word means “moose feeding place.” Unfortunately, there is no nickname.
Don’t let anyone convince you the name comes from a Native American hunter who forgot to load his gun but still took a shot at a moose. Outraged, he (as the story goes) yelled, “Moose, look! My gun stick!”
At least you aren’t going to Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg in Connecticut, right?
Is a Rangeley Maine winter trip worth it?
Rangeley Maine doesn’t just accept winter — it celebrates it.
Saddleback Mountain was also named the “Best Ski Mountain” in Maine by the people who know this state best.
What are the road conditions in Rangeley through each season?
Rangeley’s road conditions are generally safe if you stick to the main highways and paved roads. Mud season — from March through mid-April — is the most challenging time of year on any route that isn’t paved.
Also, the region has logging roads that range from bumpy to unbearable. Most are on private property where the public is allowed access.
However, logging trucks always have the right-of-way. Keep an eye out for moose, especially at sunrise and sunset.
Rangeley Maine Is Waiting for You
The Rangeley Lakes region has the essence of the “Dirty Dancing” movie resort where old friends and new friends gather, explore, and recreate. If you want to get away from others, there are parts of this region where moose outnumber people three to one.
TIP: If you’re driving in from New Hampshire, buy as much of your supplies as possible since the state has no sales tax.