Where can I go to see a moose?
Sometimes being an innkeeper more nearly resembles being a tour director than anything else.
Sometimes first-time visitors to Maine (people "from away", as the Mainers call them) want to get a lobster fresh off the boat, sometimes they want to see some of the spectacular lighthouses or other scenic views along the Maine coast. But every now and then, the question is put to us, "Where can I go to see a moose?".
The short, but not-so-helpful answer is, "almost anywhere, at the right time." It is true, at certain times, it is possible to see a moose almost anywhere. Last Spring we had reports of a number of collisions on I-95 south of Portland, where moose had strayed onto the Interstate highway. But, that's not what we would consider the optimal viewing method - and the risk is a bit too high. You can't win in a collision with one of these giants (they stand about 6 feet tall at the shoulder, and males can weigh around 1200-1500 pounds, while females weight is around 900 pounds).
There are many professional tours that promise to take you moose watching. These range from hiring a Registered Maine Guide to a bike tour (sadly, no longer guided, but the info is still on the web site) to many other formal tours in search of the Maine state animal.
If something a bit more unstructured is what you had in mind, we agree! When we were still "from away" (to some, we still are!) we decided to do a bit of research to see if we could see our first moose. We learned that moose are plentiful, especially in the far northern area of Maine (where there are very few people), known as "the County" (Aroostook County). However, they are also plentiful a bit closer to Brewster House - near Moosehead Lake (about 3 hours from Freeport) and Rangeley Lake.
We also learned that the prime opportunities to view moose is either at dawn or at dusk. The first time we went to Rangeley we stayed in a local motel, though we learned there were also some B&B's in town. We arrived in Rangeley in the mid-afternoon, unpacked and got a quick bite to eat.
Route 16 heading North from Rangeley is known as "Moose Alley" (Yes, there are other "Moose Alleys") for good reason. We headed out just before dusk, and as the road climbed gently away from town, Ruth said, "Wouldn't it be great if we saw a moose in the road when we come around the bend?" And that's exactly what happened.
There along the right shoulder of the two-lane road was a modest-sized male! There weren't many cars on the road so both we and the car ahead of us immediately swerved to the shoulder, and grabbed our cameras. The third car accelerated in disgust, and we could see the driver mutter, "Tourists!" We didn't care, and just snapped pictures as the big guy ambled across the road and disappeared into the trees.
A few miles farther, there was another moose, a female, up between the tree line and the road. She eyed us warily for a while, then vanished into the trees. When we turned back toward town, the first guy was back in the road, staring straight at us. After a few more pictures, he strolled off into the woods again.
So now, when we want to see a moose, we make the two hour (approximately) drive over to Rangeley and travel out "Moose Alley" at dusk. Then we make a trip home in the dark, making a long day trip of it.
One of these days, we hope to go up early in the day and rent a canoe or kayak and glide down the rivers in the area, in hopes of seeing the moose in that environment.