The Only Desert East Of The Mississippi Is Right Here In Maine & It’s A Must-See Attraction!

When thinking of Maine most tend to picture dense forests, jagged coastlines, and maybe a lobster roll or two.

But a desert?!  Yes, you read that right. 

Tucked away in the lush landscapes of Maine hides its most baffling spectacle: a 40-acre sandbox that’s not just a playground for the imagination but a living classroom straight out of a “believe it or not” tale.

Credit: Desert of Maine

And while “the Desert of Maine” is plenty interesting in its own right, the entertainment it offers for both adults and children makes this place a must-visit when in the area.

The Backstory: From Farm to Phenomenon

Imagine the Tuttle family, way back in the late 1700s, working their farm, blissfully unaware they’re about to become the inadvertent architects of Maine’s mini-Sahara. 

Fast forward a couple of hundred years of farming oopsies – think overgrazing and a “we’ll deal with it later” approach to land management – and voila, the Desert of Maine is born. 

It wasn’t a quick magic trick but more of a slow burn that turned this once-fertile land into a sandy surprise.

Enter Henry M. Goldrup, who, in 1926, bought this sandy oddity and probably thought, “Why not?” turning it into a tourist hotspot with a side of hot dogs and ice cream. 

Since then, it’s been a steady climb to quirky fame, complete with a fiberglass camel because, honestly, what’s a desert without one?

Credit: Desert of Maine

Not Your Average Desert

Calling this place a desert might have actual deserts rolling their sandy eyes. It’s more like a desert cosplay – all the sand with none of the drought. 

This place gets as much rain as the rest of Maine but refuses to let that ruin its desert vibe, thanks to a stubborn layer of glacial silt. 

It’s a testament to nature’s whims and a not-so-subtle nudge about taking care of our land.

Modern Attractions, Fun & Learning

After undergoing renovations in 2022, the Desert of Maine now offers a variety of attractions that blend entertainment with education. 

Visitors can enjoy self-guided tours that delve into the desert’s geology, history, and ecology, or take a ride on the 1800s-style train for a leisurely journey through the dunes. 

The recent additions of mini golf, a natural playground, and a fossil dig further enrich the visitor experience, making it an ideal destination for families and curious travelers alike.

The site’s accommodations have also evolved, with options ranging from traditional A-Frame cabins to luxurious glamping tents, catering to a range of preferences and providing a unique overnight experience amidst the serene backdrop of the Maine wilderness.

Why Visit the Desert of Maine?

For families seeking adventure and education, the Desert of Maine provides an unparalleled experience. 

Learn how this sandy wonderland came to be through self-guided tours that delve into the desert’s history, geology, and ecology. 

Children can unleash their inner explorer in the Fossil Dig, while the whole family can enjoy the creativity of Gemstone Village or take a historical journey with the Model T photo op.

Attractions for Every Visitor

There are plenty of fun and unique things to do for both adults and the kiddos at the Desert of Maine, with just a few of the highlights being:

Mini Golf: Challenge your family to an 18-hole game that narrates the desert’s story.

Ice Cream and Oasis Snack Bar: Enjoy classic treats to keep you energized for exploration.

Natural Playground: A unique play area that encourages imaginative play in a natural setting.

Gemstone Village and Fossil Dig: Engage with history hands-on by uncovering fossils or navigating the imaginative labyrinth of Gemstone Village.

Train Ride and Historic Barn: Experience the desert in style with a train ride and visit the barn that stands as a testament to the land’s farming past.

Stay and Play in Style

Accommodations have evolved from traditional camping to offering cozy cabins and luxurious glamping tents. 

Credit: Desert of Maine

Embrace the serenity of the Maine woods with accommodations that provide comfort while keeping you close to nature.

2024 and Beyond: New Adventures Await

The Desert of Maine continues to expand its offerings, with plans for new attractions like the reconstructed Buried Spring House and a hiking trail that offers a scenic view of the desert’s surroundings. 

The commitment to enhancing visitor experiences ensures that the Desert of Maine remains a must-visit destination for years to come.

Plan Your Visit

Admission is affordable, making the Desert of Maine accessible to all who wish to explore this unique natural phenomenon. 

With activities and sights to engage every age, it’s more than just a visit—it’s an adventure into the heart of Maine’s natural and cultural heritage.

For more details, check out the Desert of Maine’s website: