Say goodbye to the USA and hello to Canada (or vice versa) at the small Maine town of Calais. If you’ve just traveled the Downeast Coast (US 1), or the Airline (Maine Route 9), this is a logical place to cross the international border. I also found time to do a little sightseeing before becoming an international traveler for a week and a half.
Calais is located along US 1, on the banks of the Saint Croix River. Saint Stephen, New Brunswick is on the other side of the international border.
Earlier on Day 1, I was taking my time, traveling up the Maine Coast on US 1. Eventually, I realized that I would never make it into Canada if I stuck to a leisurely plan, so I hopped off of US 1 and onto Maine Route 9, the Airline, for the drive east to Calais. There wasn’t a lot to see along the Airline, so I made up some time, and arrived in the Calais area just before sunset. Then, I scrambled to find a good place to snap a sunset photo.
Just south of Calais, US 1 cuts across the edge of the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. There are a couple of scenic spots here — the first had a parking area, where I was able to walk down to the wetlands (scaring off some geese in the process).
The view was nice here, but I decided to go a bit further up the road.
When you spot the power lines, you’ll also see a path that cuts into the wildlife reserve.
That path runs alongside an inlet from the river, which provided some nice reflections of the sky.
The view from the edge of the road was pretty good, too.
After all of this, I headed on into Calais.
It was far too late to enjoy downtown Calais, but it looks like it would be worth a visit during business hours.
Directly from downtown Calais, a bridge crosses over into Canada, where you’ll need to pass through customs. Beyond the checkpoint, a right turn will take you into downtown Saint Stephen (about equal in size to Calais). Turn either left or right, and you’ll quickly end up at New Brunswick Route 1. From there, I headed east towards Saint John, stopping for the night in tiny Pocologan.
Here’s a look at the drive along the Airline into Calais, Maine:
The Bottom Line
You may just consider Calais as a border crossing spot, but the downtown is charming, and the nearby wildlife reserve may also be worth exploring.