Montreal to Halifax roadtrip in July - which route - Canada or Maine?
Replies: 10 - Last Post: May 4, 2009 8:46 AM Last Post By: sprite
Apr 19, 2009 9:37 AM
My girlfriend and I (mid 20s, from Montreal) will be spending about 2 weeks in the Maritimes in late June / early July - we've never been east of Quebec City. We're driving, mostly camping with some possible hostel-ing. We plan to spend ~2-3 days driving one direction, with some stops along the way - and straight through in 1 (or 2) longer days the other direction. We will spend most of our time in NB, NS, PEI.
Which route would you recommend for our 2-3 day slower drive - Canada or Maine? We want the more scenic route, with more interesting stops/sights along the way (ie - nature, nice countryside, interesting towns or small cities, decent camping). Is the drive through Maine (from Montreal to Saint John, NB, or vice versa) a nice drive, or mostly to be avoided? Is the coast of "downeast" Maine (the part closest to Canada) worth seeing, or will it just be more of the same after having been to the Maritimes? The alternative is spending a little more time in Quebec (either coast, between Quebec City and as far as Rimouski) and possibly the north-east coast of N.B.
(The obvious reply would be "do one route each direction" - but we'll probably only take the time to see the area and places along the way one direction, and beeline down the Trans Canada the other direction).
Apr 19, 2009 10:21 AM
1Maybe I need to look at a map but don't you pretty much have to go through Maine or go way to heck out of your way North to avoid it?
Anyway, Maine is a nice state and I would go through it to get from Montreal to Halifax. Generally the mountains are more scenic than on the Canadian side. The coast is a little more subjective......tough to say. Acadia National Park, in Maine, is really nice but would be out of the way. I'm not sure if I understand what you're thinking.....do you consider the St. Lawrence to be the coast?
Apr 19, 2009 11:31 AM
2I've driven from Montreal to the Maritimes quite a few times now, I found it pretty much the same on either side of the border, the endless forests, can be scenic in their own way, if that is what you are looking for. If you wanted to go through Maine, you could enter into NB from Calais and drive to St. John from there or if you wanted, get a ferry over to NS from there and then drive to Halifax. Or alternatively you could go partly through Maine and enter NB at Woodstock and take the highway to St. John. Going through Maine will take quite a bit longer though, and the scenery is pretty much the same on either side of the border, until you get to the bigger cities.
Apr 19, 2009 2:35 PM
3Thanks for the feedback so far. Ogie - here's a google map of the two possible routes. There is actually less than 20km difference between them. Sorry for the "coast" confusion - I was referring to the St. Lawrence shore around Rimouski, Tadoussac, etc. I'm not sure where exactly the river-ocean divide is (since there's whale watching in that area, and you can actually see the river flow west, not east, sometimes at Quebec City because of the tides)
Apr 19, 2009 5:30 PM
4I've gone every which way between Montreal and the Maritimes and my personal favourite is to head up the south shore even farther up to Mont-Joli, and then cut across the Matapedia valley to Campbellton, NB, then go along the Acadian coast (Bathurst, Miramichi-Shediac) to Moncton. It's quite scenic, and you will get less forest-overdose.
Apr 20, 2009 5:55 AM
5Cool map, now I get it, thanks.
Anyway, Ordinarilly I'd say the Maine Route because that coastal part is very nice and the mountains are bigger in NH and Maine than the other side of the border (generally), but there's a catch here: July 4 and the whole beginning of July is a big holiday/vacation time in the US and one where everyone heads to the coast. So driving up the coast of Maine and trying to see the attractions will likely be crowded, slow and a royal pain in early July.
So in this case I'd probably take the Canadian route because: 1. The potential crowds along the Maine coast and 2. Even though I think the Maine route is a little nicer the difference isn't big. 3. You'll have all the nice coast you can handle once you get to the Maritimes.
Apr 20, 2009 1:08 PM
6Thanks :) We'll probably stick to the Canadian side (saves 2 border crossings too), but I'd love to make it down to Maine at some point!
Apr 21, 2009 10:32 AM
7My husband and I did a slightly extended version of your trip on our honeymoon, and Ogie makes an excellent point - July in Maine is CRAZY. We ended up paying $210usd for a hotel room in Portland because everything else (from campground to hotels) was entirely booked, and that wasn't even July 4th weekend. In addition, the camping we did north of Portland was also rather crowded and had the inflated summer prices.
And, for what it's worth, our absolute by far most favorite part of the entire trip was the northern rim of the Gaspesie peninsula. It's a gorgeous coastline, with plenty of cute b&bs and relatively empty, open campgrounds. Unfortunately, we covered this on the first leg of our trip, and because we anticipated even more beauty from PEI and Cape Breton, we didn't spend too much time up there. Later, we wished we'd stayed for much longer, cutting if it meant cutting short our time in the other parts...it really was that beautiful, and so unbelievable underrated (we only went there by accident, having never really heard of the region, but missing a turn outside of rimuoski!). So, if you can at all squeeze it in, you may want to consider it. Or for another trip, perhaps :)
Apr 22, 2009 5:22 AM
8lotus, thanks for the advice! Sounds like we will definitely skip Maine (for this trip at least). We were considering Gaspesie en route, but don't want to spend our entire time driving, and will probably save that for a future trip. Good to hear it's so beautiful - it certainly sounds less 'hyped' than the Maritimes, especially Cape Breton.
Apr 26, 2009 4:53 PM
9I'm originally from the east coast and have travelled there from Ontario several times. I have done the road trip in every season of the year and have taken a few different routes - and missed the same exit as lotuslanding and really enjoyed the accidental sidetrip. The only thing I would add is about the time of year you will be travelling to the coast. June can be chilly and sometimes foggy....early July is not typically much better (I only know this from having spent many July 1st wkds camping, and freezing, in cape breton). You are likely to get better weather in late July, August and September.
May 4, 2009 8:46 AM
10from quebec city almost to the rimouski turn off, there is a 'scenic' route called 'les navigateurs.' i love it. it passes through a beautiful little village with rock climbing and kayaks, which has a great little poutine place--about 30 kinds of poutine.
can't remember the name, but it's the only one sign-posted for climbing in that area.
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