Top Ten Camps in North America

Out There: McKeen Brook, Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Maine

The high point of a weeklong canoe trip along the 92-mile waterway, three miles below the thundering crash of Allagash Falls. The fir-shaded campsite comes complete with a fire pit, a primitive table, and, to help you make optimal use of these rustic amenities, its very own brook brimming with trout and salmon. Best of all, the nearest neighboring campsite is almost a mile off.

The Specs

Instead of putting in at crowded Chamberlain Lake, launch your journey at less-visited Allagash Lake. During prime season (April through early June) you'll catch plenty of fat brookies and return most of them because of an 18-inch minimum-size regulation. (Fishing permits cost $8 to $70, depending on age and number of days; 207-287-2871.) You can bang up the canoe on the 3.5 miles of Class II rapids below Churchill Dam. Farther downriver at Round Pond, moose sightings are virtually guaranteed. Allagash Outfitters in Allagash (207-398-3277) rents canoes for $12 per day and offers guide and shuttle services (prices vary with group size). A seven-day trip with Allagash Guide Inc. costs $600 per person (207-634-3748).

The Stuff

Allagash Wilderness Waterway begins 125 miles north of Bangor. Drive 63 miles north on I-95 to East Millinocket, and then take Maine 157 west to Millinocket. Turn north on Baxter State Park Road, then west onto Golden Road, and north again onto Telos Road. You'll pass a gatehouse where the North Maine Woods Organization collects a road fee ($8 day-use fee) and camping fee ($6 per person per night). At the Chamberlain Bridge Ranger Station, ask for directions to the put-in at Little Allagash Stream, 65 miles northwest. On your six-day trip downriver, you'll pass through a succession of lakes (including Chamberlain and Eagle) before hitting the dam and the main section of the Allagash. There's a third-of-a-mile portage around the falls; the site lies three miles farther, where McKeen Brook joins the river. Call the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands at 207-941-4014 for more information.

Next Time Try

Jap Lake, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

The northwest shore's mosquito-free site is well worth the grueling mile-long portage. Its rocky cliffs and protruding granite slabs provide cannonball-launching-pad perfection.

Location: 220 miles north of Duluth.

Details: camping permit, $12 plus $20 refundable deposit; advance reservations required.

Prime Time: early June, late August, September

Contact: 877-550-6777

Lower Blue Lake, Mount Sneffels Wilderness, Colorado

A 3.5-mile trek from the East Dallas Creek Trailhead puts you at Lower Blue and within striking distance of five 13,000-foot-plus peaks, topped by 14,150-foot Mount Sneffels. After you've hiked your fill, do your collapsing per wilderness rules at least 100 feet from the lake.

Location: 35 miles north of Telluride

Details: no permits or fees required

Prime Time: late July to early August

Contact: 970-240-5300


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »