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Join Naturalist Journeys on this exciting Maine Northwoods nature tour. The trip starts with time in Bar Harbor and a pelagic for seabirds and marine mammals, followed by five nights at the New England Outdoor Center.
Explore Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods & Water National Monument looking for warblers, woodpeckers, Boreal Chickadee, Canada Jay, Spruce Grouse, and possibly even Bicknell’s Thrush.
- Enjoy a cruise off Bar Harbor—we keep our eyes peeled for puffins and whales
- Explore Baxter State Park for warblers, flycatchers, and more
- Relax at the lovely New England Outdoor Center and indulge at the Center’s River Drivers Restaurant, the perfect home base for our explorations
- Visit Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument looking for American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers, as well as Moose
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Wed., July 10 : Arrivals in Bangor, Maine | Bangor Forest & Orono Bog
Please plan to arrive at Bangor International Airport (BGR) no later than 1:00 PM today. Your guide meets you at the airport; we plan to do some birding en route to Bar Harbor, so be sure your binoculars are handy and your shoes are good for short walks.
We include a good stop at the Bangor Forest and Orono Bog, an hour and a half northwest of Bar Harbor. This three-mile walk meanders through forested wetlands that surround the bog to the peat bog and a one-mile boardwalk, offering opportunities for some northern specialty birds like Lincoln’s Sparrow, Palm Warbler, Northern Harrier, and a host of breeding birds known to frequent the bog ecosystem and the edge habitat. Bogs form “boreal islands” with a high percentage of species of northern affinities and are regarded as relicts of former conditions associated with the Wisconsian glaciation. This prepare us for our Northwoods birding adventure where this habitat is plentiful. There is the possibility of Black Bear, White-tailed Deer, and Moose when we leave the coast and while driving into the northern forest.
Dinner tonight is at McKays Public House, a quaint and beautiful restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining and a delicious, locally sourced menu.
Accommodations at the Bar Harbor Inn (B,L,D)
Thurs., July 11 : Gulf of Maine & Outer Islands Pelagic | Mount Desert Island
Today we board the Friendship V, a double hulled catamaran built to smoothly maneuver through the Gulf of Maine waters. We travel 20 to 30 miles offshore in search of Arctic and Common Tern, Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, and Common Murre rounding out the list of alcids that nest along the rocky shores of Maine’s small islands. We hope to encounter Humpback, Finback, and Minke Whales, and possibly encounter White-sided Dolphin, too.
Foraging among the whales, it’s possible to find swarms of Wilson’s and a few Leaches Storm-Petrels, Northern Gannet, Greater and Sooty Shearwaters, Parasitic and Pomarine Jaegers, and other members of the ocean dwelling tubenose species.
This afternoon we head to Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park. The only national park in Maine, Acadia is surrounded by quaint coastal New England communities with strong ties to the ocean. The largest island in an archipelago of 4600 islands is home to around 330 species of birds throughout the year.
We are back to Bar Harbor tonight for another delicious dinner and a good rest up before we head into the Northwoods tomorrow.
Accommodations at the Bar Harbor Inn (B,L,D)
Fri., July 12 – Mon., July 15 : Exploring from the New England Outdoor Center
The New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) is a recreational lakeside retreat, which has award winning views of Mount Kadahdin, Maine’s highest mountain at 5,269 feet. Named Katahdin by the Penobscot Indian Nation, it means “The Greatest Mountain,” and features many northern specialty birds. The on-site River Drivers Restaurant is delicious, and hosts the remainder of our dinners. Over the next four days, we explore and bird the area based out of this lovely retreat. Our breakfasts and dinners are at the Center’s lovely restaurant, and we typically enjoy a picnic lunch in the field.
The New England Outdoor Center hosts a fantastic array of habitats, including a lake and forested trails. We like to take time to explore right from our lodgings!
Katahdin Woods & Water National Monument
87,563 acres of mountains and forestland in northern Penobscot County, Maine, including a section of the East Branch Penobscot River. The monument is located on the eastern border of Maine's Baxter State Park. The views from KWWNM of Mt. Katahdin are spectacular. Nearby, the West Branch of the Penobscot River flows south out of the North Maine Woods.
Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument is our newest federal park in Maine. We continue to search for American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers, Spruce Grouse, and Boreal Chickadee. This is a great location for warblers and flycatchers, too, as well as Moose.
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park was established in 1931 by 28 donations of land, in trust, from park donor Governor Percival P. Baxter between 1931 and 1962, eventually creating a park of over 200,000 acres (809 km2). The park is home to Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Bay-breasted Warbler, Canada Jay, and Spruce Grouse. We drive the famous loop road through the park. If the group wants a longer hike, we can make an attempt for Bicknell’s Thrush. Taking the Hunt Trail there is a possibility for Bay-breasted Warbler, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher as we climb to around 2800 feet where we should encounter the endangered Bicknell’s Thrush. This is optional.
We spend our time at Baxter looking for Moose and boreal specialty birds, an abundance of warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, and finches that breed in the northern Maine forest. White-winged and Red Crossbills are a key species we look for while also visiting known hotspots for Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers. We should witness Fox and Lincoln's Sparrows singing on their territories. We also have a great chance to witness some of the tougher warblers, such as Blackpoll, Bay-breasted, Tennessee and Mourning, and northern forest flycatchers such as Alder, Least, Yellow-bellied, and Olive-sided.
The Golden Road
The Golden Road is a privately owned and mostly unpaved road, extending from Millinocket west over 100 miles to the Quebec border. It was established in the 1970s as a transportation conduit for raw wood to feed the hungry Great Northern Paper Company mills in Millinocket and East Millinocket. We travel parts of this road seeking boreal species in the woods and around many lakes and rivers of northern Maine. From Millinocket The Road skirts the southern boundary of Baxter State Park, then crosses Abol Bridge and travels along the south bank of the West Branch of the Penobscot River.
Your guide is local and has good contacts throughout the region. We plan one of our morning or afternoon outings as a “guide’s choice” day to look for key species that we may have dipped on and explore in areas that have had recent good bird reports.
Tues., July 16 : Departures from Bangor
Our journey comes to an end today as we travel south to Bangor International Airport. Today we say goodbye to the North Woods and our truly unique experience. It is an hour and a half drive from our lodge to the airport, so please plan flights out after NOON. (B)
Baxter State Park
Northern Harrier by Peg Abbott
Moose in Baxter State Park
Spruce Grouse by Greg Smith
American Three-toed Woodpecker by Bryan Calk
Barred Owl by Peg Abbott
Blue-headed Vireo by Carlos Sanchez
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher by MJ Good
Hairy Woodpecker by Peg Abbott
Northern Goshawk by Bryan Calk
Baxter State Park
Moose by Bryan Calk
Common Loon by Greg Smith
Yellow-billed Cuckoo by Carlos Sanchez
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the journey is $3890 DBL / $4890 SGL, based on double occupancy, from Bangor, Maine. Cost includes six nights’ accommodations, all meals as noted in the itinerary, airport transfers, ground transportation, professional guide services, park and other entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. Not included is round-trip airfare to and from Bangor, personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, and gratuities for luggage handling or other services. Guide gratuities are at your discretion.
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Arrival and Departure Airport: Bangor International Airport (BGR)
Arrival Details: Plan to arrive July 10, no later than 1:00 PM
Departure Details: Plan July 16 flights after 12:00 PM
Travel Tip: You may wish to arrive a day early and rest up from your travels. Most hotels are within 10 minutes of the airport. If you’re interested in exploring around the town of Bangor, there are some fun things to do. You can go for a short stroll along the Penobscot River Walkway, which has scenic views of the Penobscot River. If you’re into transportation history, the Cole Land Transportation Museum has a large collection of historic Maine vehicles, including some unique antiques. Make sure you also swing by the massive Paul Bunyan statute, which is an iconic symbol in Bangor.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
Michael has more than 25 years of experience studying the birds of North America, and brings a wealth of knowledge about Neotropical migrants and the avifauna of the Eastern United States. Michael has traveled extensively in the US, Alaska, Europe, Australia, South America and Cuba. He is also a regional business leader promoting sound ecologically practices in business and land development. Michael has been guiding professionally for many years, focusing on avian ecology in the Gulf of Maine bioregion. His fields of expertise include wetland ecology, ornithology, environmental education and developmental biology. Michael worked for many years at the Marine Biological Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, studied numerous aspects of the Gulf of Maine.
In his spare time, he maintains Three Pines Bird Sanctuary in Town Hill, Maine, studying micro-habitat of Neotropical migratory birds on Mount Desert Island, Maine and winter ecology in various Neotropical countries, when given the opportunity.
Other trips with Michael Good
James grew up in New Jersey and started birding at a young age. He continued that passion by getting an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Maine. Since then, he has worked and birded extensively across the United States, including conducting point counts and banding ducks in Maine; identifying and counting waterfowl in Nebraska; counting migrating raptors in Texas, Arizona and Wyoming; and surveying for Northern Goshawks in northern California. The past three springs he has been a bird guide in the Chiricahua mountains in southeast Arizona, and he enjoys sharing his passion for birds with others. His favorite bird is the Red-headed Woodpecker.
Other trips with James Petersen
Arizona: Sunshine & SaguarosJanuary 10 - 15, 2024
South Texas Birding & NatureJanuary 26 - February 3, 2024
South Texas Birding & NatureMarch 12 - 20, 2024
Trinidad & Tobago: Incredible Birds & WildlifeJune 20 - 29, 2024
Arizona Monsoon Madness Birding & Nature in a Season of Wonder!August 1 - 8, 2024
Arizona Monsoon Madness Birding & Nature in a Season of Wonder!August 11 - 18, 2024
Arizona Monsoon Madness Birding & Nature in a Season of Wonder!August 25 - September 1, 2024
Birding New ZealandOctober 8 - 24, 2024
- Arizona: Sunshine & Saguaros
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of Your Tour
- Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about general vaccinations recommended for travel.
- Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed. After you make travel reservations, please send a copy of your travel itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Remember to pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
We will share a copy of your health and emergency contact information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important in case of a medical emergency. In addition to bringing any prescription medications with you, we recommend that you have a copy of the prescriptions in case of loss.
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Food & Drink
We carry water and juices/cold drinks in the cooler each day, and sodas if people like them. Please also plan on bringing and filling your water bottle for hiking each day. We try to use as few plastics as possible!
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Dress is informal and is casual even at restaurants. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable. Protective clothing is essential, whether it be from from sun, rain, cold, insects, or vegetation. You need closed toe shoes, and we comfortable walking shoes with good tread. Hiking boots with good support for hiking and on rocky terrain can work well.
Many people ask how much to plan to bring as spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Most shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books. You may want to bring cash for drinks with dinner (if available) or smaller local purchases.
Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this amount can be split among them.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available in most US destinations, although there are some exceptions in remote locations. Wi-Fi is generally provided in all hotels, lodges, and restaurants you visit, at least in public areas. Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers unless it appears to be an emergency as this disrupts other guests – please plan cell phone calls on your own time.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
For this tour, your guides will drive travelers in either full-size or mini-vans or a combination of those two. We ask all attendees to please rotate your seating, so you ride with different drivers and alternate between front and back seats.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives permission to record photos and/or video of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochures, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at email@example.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please pack light!
Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.
Bangor is a four-seasonclimate with warm summers and cold winters. July and August are the warmest months, with temperatures ranging from the upper 70s to low 80s during the day, and cooling off into the 60s in the evenings and early mornings. The summers also bring a higher level of humidity, and occasional rain storms are a possibility. It is best to come prepared with layers, including a rain jacket that can double as a wind breaker.
Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy to wear. Note on clothing colors: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended.
Clothing & Gear
- Lightweight long pants, 2 pair
- Lightweight long-sleeved shirts – 2 or 3
- Shorts (optional)
- T-shirts or equivalent (1 per every other day recommended – remember you may buy some there!)
- Personal underclothing
- Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
- Comfortable walking/hiking shoes such as tennis shoes
- Lightweight hiking boots. Please note that forest trails will be on uneven terrain and may be muddy – good tread and support are essential!
- Rain-friendly footwear (rubber bottom)
- Lightweight raincoat or poncho
- Lightweight jacket, fleece fabric is ideal
- Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
- Bathing suit, optional
- Hat with broad brim
- Bandana (optional, great for cooling off when you are hot and sweaty, can be purchases with a gel inside for several hours of cooling)
- Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- E-ticket verification
- Photo ID
- Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
- Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored
- Walking stick – we find that many travelers appreciate a walking stick on trails, sporting goods stores carry collapsible models that pack easily in your suitcase (optional) Small flashlight with fresh batteries.
- Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
- Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
- Sunglasses with neck strap Insect repellent (something containing DEET)
- Toiletry articles
- Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
- Camera and extra batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
- Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
- Notebook or journal and pen (optional) Field guides (optional)
- Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
- Rechargeable power bank (optional)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!
Medical & First Aid Items
- Personal medications (and copy of vital prescriptions)
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
- Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments
- Copy of eyeglass prescription, vaccination records, and any medical alerts
- Insurance information
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
- Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Antibacterial gel
Suggested Reading List +
There are many titles of interest for Maine; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.
Merlin App. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. You can download it here.
History & Culture
Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Mount Desert Island
Explore Bar Harbor
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Birding Maine - Audubon
Maine Illustrated Birding Checklist - eBird
Wildlife Species Information – Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
Incredible Wildlife Diversity of Acadia National Park
Conservation, Parks & Reserves
Bangor City Forest
Orono Bog Boardwalk
Acadia National Park
New England Outdoor Center
Baxter State Park
Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument
Geology & Geography
Gulf of Maine
Bedrock Geologic History of Maine
The Geologic Society of Maine
Geography of Maine
History & Culture
History of Maine
History, Arts & Culture in Bangor, Maine
Modern History of Maine (see pulldown header “Time Periods” for a variety of timelines)
First Peoples of Maine
“Indigenous Story of Southern Maine” – Article, Brickstoremuseum.org
The Historical Marker Database: The Golden Road
“The Golden Road Brought ‘Tectonic Change’ to the Maine Woods” – Article, Downeast.com
Helpful Travel Websites
Bangor International Airport (BGR)
Homeland Security Real ID Act
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Date & Time – Bangor, Maine
Photo credits: Banner: Mount Katahdin (NJ Stock), Canada Jay (NJ Stock), Atlantic White-sided Dolphins (NJ Stock), Spruce Grouse (NJ Stock), Reflected Lake (RootsLilla of Wikimedia Commons), Northern Harrier (NJ Stock) Primary Thumbnail Gallery: Mount Katahdin, Booth Harbor, Canada Jay, Cormorants in Harbor, Red Crossbills, Spruce Grouse, Moose, Booth Bay Harbor