Celebrating 50 Years of Wild & Scenic River Designation in July, 2020
The Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW or Waterway) is a 92.5-mile, north-flowing river in the northern reaches Maine that ends in Allagash Village. It is surrounded by commercial forestland and other conservation lands, and it is a special place for many. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the federal designation of the Allagash as a "wild and scenic river," read some "wild" stories & view photos from NRCM members who have paddled the Allagash over the years.
The Story of the Allagash
by Dean Bennett
Maine’s AWW is a treasure, conserved by Maine people working together. Hear — and see! — the story in three minutes from Allagash expert Dean Bennett. Dean is an award-winning author, longtime University of Maine professor, and an Allagash member of NRCM:
Allagash Wilderness Waterway
NRCM has watchdogged activities in the AWW since its creation to ensure its wilderness character is not degraded. Protection of the Allagash River was the issue on which NRCM was founded in 1959. See a timeline of the history of the AWW.
The Waterway is one of Maine's signature natural areas. Following a multi-year campaign led by NRCM, it was protected by the state in 1966 by the Maine State Legislature, with a $1.5 million bond issue approved by a large majority of Maine voters, and $1.5 million from the federal government.
Allagash Named Wild and Scenic River
As a result of hard work by Senator Edmund Muskie, on July 19, 1970, the Allagash River was designated a "wild" river area in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This meant that it would be kept generally inaccessible except by trail. Today, the character of the Waterway continues to be threatened by roads, parking lots, boat launches, and uses that mar the pristine nature of this area's views and peace and quiet.
Allagash Management Plan
In 2011 and 2012, NRCM participated in an advisory group to revise the AWW’s Management Plan. Our goal in the process was to ensure no further degradation of wilderness character. We also wanted to improve that character wherever there were opportunities. NRCM continues to work hard to fight threats to the area and ensure that the AWW is managed as a true wilderness area, as the people of Maine intended.
Are You Planning a Trip to the Allagash Waterway?
Let NRCM help!
9 Links to Help You Plan Your Allagash Wilderness Adventure:
- Visit the State of Maine website to find out current conditions and other important information before you head out to experience the Allagash.
- Looking for tips and information as you plan your trip to the Allagash? Visit Backpacker for their "Big Trips Made Easy" piece about the Allagash.
- Map of the Allagash
- Rules about how to use the AWW (and rules about watercrafts on the Waterway)
- Information about camping costs and campsites along the river. You can also download a map using Google Earth of campsites along the Allagash and throughout Maine's North Woods.
- Find guide services for your trip: Mahoosuc Guide Service, Allagash Guide Service, and Maine Woods Guides Service. Check out the Maine Wilderness Guides Organization for more Allagash guides.
- Don't know what to pack for your trip? Here's a great list to get you started.
- Get your copy of the "Allagash Explorer" from the Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation to help plan your trip.
- Want to hear from others about canoeing the Waterway before you head out? We encourage you to read this Down East magazine article written on the 50th anniversary of protection of the Allagash, and this National Geographic story about some of the best American adventures.
Banner photo: Allagash River by NRCM member and former executive director Brownie Carson