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Baxter State Park Camping Reservations

Camping In Baxter State Park

Climbing Katahdin – Chimney pond campground tour Baxter State Park

Baxter State Park offers 10 campgrounds and many remote campsites for visitors. Camping facilities include tent sites, bunkhouses, cabins, and Adirondack-style lean-to shelters.

The summer camping season is from May 15 to Oct. 15, weather permitting, with a special extended season available until late October at select campsites. The summer camping season at Chimney Pond campground is June 1 – Oct. 15, weather permitting. Please see the Park website for details. If you are planning an early or late season visit, it is best to check first with Park Headquarters. A winter camping season extends from December 1 to March 31. Special rules apply and can be obtained from Park Headquarters or viewed on the Park website. Current camping fees are posted on the BSP website.

Check-in time for campsites is 1:00 p.m., and checkout time is 11:00 a.m. All campers must be through the gate by 8:30 p.m. on the first night of camping. If you miss the first day of your reservation, please call Park Headquarters, as reservations are released on the second day at 4:00 p.m. for no-show reservations.

Everything You Need To Know About Hiking Mount Katahdin

Mount Katahdin is the tallest mountain in Maine, sitting at 5,269 feet located in Baxter State Park near Millinocket, Maine. It is also the Northern most point of the Appalachian Trail and is one of Maine’s most iconic sites.

Mount Katahdin is a severely underestimated mountain resulting in many injuries and even death. No matter what route you take to the summit, you are looking at 4,000 feet of elevation gain and a full day hike .

The park is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. Unless you have a campsite reservation inside the park, you are unable to access trailheads until the gate opens at 6:00 am.

Nine Steps To Making The Best Baxter State Park Reservations

Baxter State Park is a premier outdoor destination in Maine for good reason. The park is comprised of 209,644 acres with over 40 mountain peaks and ridges, more than 220 miles of hiking trails, eight roadside campgrounds, two backcountry campgrounds, and it offers countless opportunities for fishing, hiking, paddling, observing wildlife, and exploring nature.

But how can you get the camping reservation that will ensure the best wilderness experience? Approximately 60,000 people visit Baxter State Park during the summer months, and all camping is restricted to a limited number of sites. The competition is stiff!

Ive outlined nine steps you can follow to dramatically increase the odds you will get the reservation you want.

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Choose The Best Location

This is similar to the greatest time of year in that it is subjective. Chimney Pond, the optimum launch point for Katahdins top, is the finest site for many. Some folks appreciate the peaceful surroundings of Upper Branch Pond. Wassataquoik Lake in Baxter Park was voted one of the top 20 backcountry lakes by Backpacker Magazine. There are several options! A list of campsites and maps may be found here.

Note that your finest site can have its own set of restrictions. Reservations at Davis Pond, for example, are restricted to one night and need a reservation at Russell Pond or Chimney Pond the night before. Wassataquoik Lake Island reservations are restricted to two consecutive nights and need the same Russell or Chimney Pond reservation.

Read: Guide To Hammock Camping Without Trees

Two: Select The Best Time Of Year

Baxter State Park announces the opening day reservations for SUMMER ...

The best time of year is relative. For some, the best time might be when spring trout fishing hits. For others, its when summer vacation is in full swing. For me, the best time is September and October, when the crowds die down and the black flies have disappeared. Regardless, know your best time and plan accordingly, four months in advance .

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Nine: Consider Reservations Outside The Park

If you dont get the site you want inside the park, or you like having outside amenities available, consider staying outside the park and making use of it by day. Northern OutdoorsKatahdin Adventure Basecamp, located on Ambajejus and Millinocket Lake, is the perfect alternative. The entire Katahdin region offers outdoor adventures. You can go whitewater rafting on the Penobscot, paddle Millinocket Lake, take a scenic plan ride, or go fishing, all without ever having to step a foot into the Park. The Katahdin Adventure Basecamp is located at at Big Moose Inn, where you can pitch a tent in the wooded campground, get a lean-to or RV site, or stay in a cabin near Millinocket Lake.

The Big Moose Inn has rooms & suites in addition to private cabins, which are great options for groups, families, and couples. The Katahdin Cabin is a group favorite with its huge deck, multiple sleeping spots, full kitchen, volleyball net, and sleeping for up to 20 guests!

Visit our Katahdin Adventure Base Camp page for all the details. Plan ahead, hike smart, and have a great time!

One: Know What You Are Getting Into

People familiar with Baxter State Park can skip this step, but if youre new to Baxter, know what youre getting into. Camping in Baxter is not like pulling an RV into your nearby KOA campground. There are no dog parks , no restaurants, no showers, and you wont find cellphone service unless youre above tree line! Camping in Baxter is a true wilderness experience, so familiarize yourself with the rules before planning your trip. For example:

  • Camping is only permitted by reservation.
  • If you are not at the gatehouse by 8:30pm, you will not get in, regardless of any reservation.
  • Tents are not permitted outside of lean-tos and lean-to sites.
  • You cannot bring firewood into the Park.
  • All of your garbage must be carried out.

Those are just some of the rules. Visit the Baxter State Park rules to know what you should expect.

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When Can I Show Up

if you dont have a parking reservation and there are unreserved spots, we start filling those on a first-come, first served basis at 6am when Togue Pond Gate opens. If these three lots are fully reserved, there are often no-shows and you may have a good chance to get in starting at 7:05am when parking reservations expire. Those without reservations line up in Lane 1, and are permitted access to trailheads on a first come-first served basis starting at 7:05am.if you have a parking reservation, we will hold it for you until 7am. if you dont show up, the spot becomes first-come, first served at that time.

If You Have 4 Hours Entering/leaving Via Matagamon Gate We Recommend:

Camping at the Trout Brook Farm Campground in Baxter State Park Maine
  • South Branch Pond Campground: Allow thirty minutes to drive from the gate to the South Branch Campground road and into the campground. On the way, you will pass a small parking lot for South Branch Falls. A short walk from the car will bring you to dramatic tilted rock exposures and fast flowing water of the Falls, a perfect rustic picnic area. Near the campground, you will see the day use parking lot. You can choose to hike the South Branch Nature Trail with the self-guiding pamphlet, take a shorter hike to visit just the Ledges viewpoint over the ponds or picnic in the public picnic area near the water. Canoes and kayaks are for rent here under the same system as the rest of the Park: $1/hour with paddles and life jackets. A paddle on Lower South Branch is an excellent way to view and plan for future trips up all the mountains easily viewed from the comfort of your canoe!

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South End Or West Side

Parking for most trips on the south end of the Park is at Abol Bridge . This is about 18 miles up the Golden Road from Millinocketmost folks take the State Road up to the dike and go onto the state road from there. Log trucks have the right of way! Pull over if you see one coming and keep your speed down to respond to oncoming 200,000+ pound trucks. See also our Winter Use Map.

Consider Options Other Than Mount Katahdin

I understand that Mount Katahdin is the most popular destination. It is Maines tallest summit. The Appalachian Trail comes to an end here. Its stunning. It is, nevertheless, a favorite of many, as seen by the crowds who gather at the height of each warm day. Chimney Pond is the most popular camping location in the park. Ive phoned the park many times on the day they open, four months before my planned date , expecting to obtain a site, only to receive busy signal after busy signal. The webpages are gone by the time I get through. Campgrounds near Mount Katahdins base are also popular.

Access to Katahdin is restricted, further complicating Katahdin-based planning. The Parks Trustees are in charge of conserving the Park and its environment. This implies that trails have limitations. Access is restricted when the parking areas at the base of Mount Katahdin are full.

Hiking Katahdin is also a challenging experience! A round trip trek might take anywhere from eight to twelve hours, depending on the path and your physical level. By the end of the day, most visitors are exhausted, so if youre looking for a more leisurely getaway, Baxters many other camping sites are wonderful options. As previously stated, Baxter State Park has a total area of 209,644 acres that may be explored. There are over 40 additional mountain summits in the Park, and youll encounter significantly less people on those excursions!

Read: 9 Best Maine Winter Getaways For Couples Reviewed

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The Penobscot Outdoor Center Campground

Cabin Tents

Located throughout the campground, our cabin tents provide economical yet comfortable wilderness accommodations, without the usual hassles associated with camping. These large, bright, airy tents are suitable for 2 or 4 people and feature a wooden floor, screen door, propane lighting, and made up single beds with foam mattresses. Included at each cabin tent site are a fire ring and picnic table.


Our campground offers a wide selection of well-kept, wooded campsites all served by spacious, clean, modern restrooms and showers. A fire ring and picnic table are provided at each site. Individual and group sites are available.

  • Campsite rates are priced per person
  • Cabin Tents are a flat nightly rate
  • Prices do not include Maine sales tax

Mount Katahdin Hiking Trails

Baxter State Park  Welcome to a Magnificent Obsession.

Overview of Mount Katahdin Trails

Length: 3.4 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 3,982 feet

Trailhead Parking lot: Abol Campground

Abol trail is the shortest route to Baxter Peak from the trailhead. Once you reach Tableland you will connect with the Hunt trail for the last mile.

Hunt Trail

Length: 5.2 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 4,188 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Katahdin Stream Campground

Hunt trail is one of the most popular trails to Mount Katahdin summit. 2.4 miles of the trail is above the treeline, making for some of the best views of the landscape.

Helon Taylor

Length: 3.2 miles one way

Elevation Gain to Pamola Peak: 3,412

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

This trail connects from Roaring Broom Campground to Knife Edge Trail at Pamola Peak. This trail is very exposed and is considered one of the most picturesque trails in the park.


Length: 1.3 miles one way to Pamola Peak

Elevation Gain: 1,988 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

This trail leaves from Chimney Pond and is a very short and steep climb to Pamola Peak. The trail is almost completely above the treeline and consists of climbing over large boulders.


Length: 1.5 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 2,353 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground


Length: 2.2 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 2,353 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

Knife Edge

Length: 1.1 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 365 feet

Trailhead Parking Lot: Roaring Brook Campground

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Do I Need A Reservation For Baxter State Park

There is a limit of two reservations per person per day. Some backcountry sites, and all bunkhouse spaces, group sites, and accessible sites cannot be reserved online. Please reserve these sites by mail, phone, or in person at Park Headquarters. Please bring your reservation form with you when you visit the Park.

Making A Winter Camping Reservation

Winter camping reservations may be made anytime after November 1 each year. The Park defines the winter camping season as December 1 – March 31. Winter reservations may be made by mail or in person at BSP Headquarters in Millinocket. Reservations for winter camping must be received by Baxter State Park at least 7 working days in advance of your trip. Before making a winter camping reservation, please carefully review the information on the Park’s Winter Use page.

Recommended Reading: Silver Glen Springs Camping Reservations

Why Do We Do This

we limit access to Katahdin to preserve the fragile alpine ecosystem and your experience as a visitor. Remember, as trustees of Governor Baxters deeds, we are charged with doing this in perpetuity and with intergenerational equity.

Except for Katahdin access parking lots under the parking reservation system, all other parking lots are first come first served.

Send Your Reservations Via Mail

From Mainstream to a Maine Stream: Camping Baxter State Park Part 1

You may make reservations at Baxter State Park in four different methods. You may create them at Park Headquarters in Millinocket, which is situated at 64 Balsam Drive. They are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and are closed on weekends and holidays. Reservations sent by mail are handled first. So, if you phone early in the morning four months before you plan to visit to make a reservation for the final week in August, you will be placed behind the bookings that were sent in and processed first.

However, there is one exception! If youre just planning on camping for one night , you may book that night online up to four months in advance. Thats how you defeat everyone. The caveat is that you can only book the room for one night. To put it another way, if you want a reservation between July 1st and July 5th, you can only reserve July 1st online at midnight.

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When Can I Get One

Maine resident? After April 1 you can reserve one for any day of the summer.Non-resident? Up to two weeks before your hike.All: until 3pm the day prior to your hike.No more than 3 per calendar month. Each reservation costs $5.No DUPRs for Mayif we are open to hiking above treeline in May, there is typically ample space.

Five: Consider Something Other Than Mount Katahdin

I get it, Mount Katahdin is the destination most people want. Its the highest peak in Maine. Its the end of the Appalachian Trail. Its beautiful. Its my favorite. However, its a favorite of many, and the crowd at the peak on any summer day is a testament to its popularity. The most popular camping spots in the park are at Chimney Pond. More than once Ive called the park the day they open, four months before my intended date , hoping to get a spot there, only to get busy signal after busy signal. By the time I get through, the sites are gone. Campgrounds at the base of Mount Katahdin are also popular.

Complicating Katahdin-based plans further, access to Katahdin is limited. Trustees of the Park are tasked with preserving the Park and its ecosystem. This means trails have their limits. When the parking lots at the bottom of Mount Katahdin are full, access is cut off.

Hiking Katahdin is also intense! Depending on the trail and your fitness level, you can expect a round trip hike to take eight to twelve hours. Most people are beat by the end of the day, so if youre looking for a more relaxing trip, youll find Baxters many other camping sites offer excellent alternatives. As I mentioned, Baxter State Park has 209,644 acres open for exploration. There are over 40 other mountain peaks in the Park, and I guarantee you will see far fewer people on those hikes!

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Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps

Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps , established in 1885, are located on the south shore of Katahdin Lake in Baxter State Park, about three miles from the base of Katahdin. There is no road access. To reach KLWC, one must hike, ski, or snowshoe 3.3 miles, depending on the season. Accomodations consist of eight rustic cabins of various sizes. KLWC also features a main lodge and dining room, where delicious and hearty meals are served by the host, and a cozy living room where visitors can relax with a book or a puzzle. The unique serenity and beauty of the landscape attracts naturalists, hikers, fishermen, artists, and families looking for a wilderness adventure.

This is a privately owned establishment, not run by Baxter State Park. For reservations, please contact KLWC directly at: ., or 837-1599.

Six: Make Reservations Early But Not Too Early

Sandy gets around.....

Making reservations early may seem obvious but know that you cant make them too early. Baxter State Park has a four-month rolling reservation system, meaning that you cant reserve a spot sooner than four months before the date you want. For example, if you want a reservation on July 20th, the earliest you could reserve the spot is March 20th.

The exception here is winter reservations . Winter camping reservations can be made anytime after November 1st each year. Those reservations must be received no later than seven working days prior to your trip.

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