Caribou, Maine Vacation Guide
Aroostook County comprises the remote northern region of Maine. Although the area is renowned for its natural beauty and superb recreational opportunities, it receives fewer visitors than southern and coastal Maine. This makes “The County” a spectacular getaway for those who want to escape the crowds and immerse themselves in nature. Caribou is the second-largest city in Aroostook County, with just over 8,000 people. Caribou and its neighboring towns, Fort Fairfield, Limestone, Caswell, Washburn, New Sweden, Stockholm, and Woodland are fascinating areas to explore.
Attractions and Places of Interest
In 1984, Colonel Joseph Kittinger made the first successful solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a hot air balloon. His balloon, the Rosie O’Grady, lifted off from Caribou. Today, a large fiberglass replica of the historic balloon is found at the Rosie O’Grady Balloon of Peace Park, just south of the town on Main Street.
The Nylander Museum celebrates the life and work of Olof O. Nylander, a self-taught Swedish naturalist. Nylander’s specialty was studying the mollusk species native to Aroostook County. He gave numerous lectures and published scientific papers about the flora and fauna of northern Maine. The Nylander Museum houses his entire collection of fossils, minerals, and other natural history items.
The Caribou Historical Society preserves the local history of this area of Aroostook County. Explore the collection of letters, old photographs, and other historic artifacts that chronicle Caribou’s role in the Aroostook War, importance as a potato farming region, and site of the Loring Air Force Base.
With over 2,000 lakes, rivers, and streams in Aroostook County, Caribou is an excellent place to explore the great outdoors. Popular summer water activities include fishing, whitewater rafting, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming. The Caribou area also features dozens of miles of hiking trails, from meandering walks through woodlands to challenging hikes. Many people enjoy extended backpacking trips on nearby hiking trails. There are also 71 miles of trails accessible for ATV riders.
During the winter, the Caribou area comes alive with sports enthusiasts. Caribou gets large amounts of snowfall each year, drawing winter sports lovers despite the chilly temperatures. The Caribou Snowmobile Club maintains 170 miles of snowmobile trails. These trails connect with over 1,600 miles of groomed trails in Aroostook County. Consider traveling the Northeast Snowmobile Trail or the International Snowmobile Trail System, which connects Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Quebec.
If you prefer cross-country skiing, Aroostook County features over 100 miles of groomed trails. Many summer hiking trails are used by skiers and snowshoers throughout the winter months. If you are hiking or snowshoeing on a cross-country ski trail, stay out of the ski paths to keep the trail clear for other users.
One of the natural gems of the region is the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge in Limestone. In 1998, the Loring Air Force Base transferred 4,700 acres of land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ever since, this has been protected land with unparalleled hiking, fishing, and other recreational opportunities. Commonly spotted animals include black ducks, wood ducks, river otters, mink, beaver, muskrats, snowshoe hares, warblers, black bear, deer, and moose.
Agriculture forms the core of Caribou’s local economy, making the Caribou Farmers Market a celebrated event. Held from May through October, farmers bring a variety of agricultural goods to market. Plants, art, crafts, meat products, and local foods are also available for sale. The Caribou Fall Arts and Crafts Festival is another great way to support the local economy. Held each autumn, this festival features artistic works from numerous local artisans. The annual Fort Fairfield Potato Blossom Festival, just a few miles from Caribou, also celebrates the region’s agricultural bounty.
In 1870, the legislature authorized a colony of Swedish settlers to be established in the Caribou region. The Maine Swedish Colony celebrates its heritage each year with the annual Midsommar Fest. Events take place in Caribou, New Sweden, Stockholm, and Woodland. Enjoy traditional Swedish foods, look up your Swedish ancestors, learn a traditional dance, and visit area museums at this fun festival.
Other Towns in the Caribou Area
When the Loring Air Force Base was closed, a large number of skilled workers were left without jobs. Part of the base was transformed into the Loring Commerce Center. Located in Limestone, this center is a commercial, industrial, and aviation park that employs over 1,300 local workers.
Stockholm is the original site of the Maine Swedish Colony. Several historic buildings still remain in the area, allowing you to experience the atmosphere of the original homesteads. New Sweden, just northwest of Caribou, also offers a glimpse of the area’s Swedish heritage. The New Sweden Historical Society recently acquired the Captain Clase House. This home is one of the first log cabins of the Maine Swedish colony. Work is underway to restore this home to the way it looked in the late 1800s.
Caribou Area Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Caribou, Maine area.
- Caribou Maine
- Caswell Maine
- Fort Fairfield Maine
- Limestone Maine
- New Sweden Maine
- Stockholm Maine
- Washburn Maine
- Woodland Maine