Located in the heart of the Western Mountains of Maine, Rangeley is a charming lakeside town that offers a unique blend of small-town tranquility and outdoor adventure. Known for its breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and warm, welcoming community, Rangeley is a hidden gem that promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, Rangeley has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what makes this scenic lakeside jewel so special.
Rangeley’s history dates back to the early 19th century when it was first settled by European colonists. The town was named after an Englishman, James Rangeley Sr., who bought the township in 1825. Initially, the town’s economy was based on farming and logging, but it soon became a popular destination for sport fishing. By the late 19th century, Rangeley had established itself as a premier tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the country with its pristine lakes, abundant wildlife, and stunning mountain views.
Rangeley is nestled in Franklin County, approximately 120 miles north of Portland, Maine’s largest city. The town is surrounded by the Rangeley Lakes Region, which includes six major lakes and hundreds of smaller ponds. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a population of just over 1,200 residents, offering a close-knit community feel.
Rangeley is home to a number of notable landmarks and attractions. The Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway, a 35-mile loop that offers stunning views of the region’s lakes and mountains, is a must-see. The Rangeley Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum, which celebrates the town’s rich history of outdoor sports, is another popular attraction.
The Height of Land, an overlook offering panoramic views of Mooselookmeguntic Lake and the White Mountains, is a favorite spot for photographers.
Rangeley Lake State Park, a 869-acre park with a sandy beach, picnic area, and campground, is perfect for a family outing.
The Wilhelm Reich Museum, also known as Orgonon, offers a unique look into the life and work of scientist and physician Wilhelm Reich.
While there’s plenty to see and do in Rangeley, the surrounding area also offers a wealth of attractions. The Appalachian Trail, one of the longest and most famous hiking trails in the world, passes just 10 miles south of the town. Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine’s largest ski resort, is less than an hour’s drive away. For those interested in history, the nearby town of Oquossoc boasts the historic Log Church, built in 1916, and the Bald Mountain Camps, a resort dating back to the 1800s.
Rangeley’s scenic beauty has not gone unnoticed by Hollywood. The town served as the backdrop for the 2005 film “The Four Seasons,” starring Alan Alda and Carol Burnett. More recently, it was featured in the 2010 documentary “The Way We Get By,” which follows the lives of three senior citizens who greet U.S. troops returning from overseas at the Bangor International Airport.
With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and friendly community, Rangeley truly is a scenic lakeside jewel. Whether you’re exploring the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway, learning about the town’s sporting heritage, or simply enjoying the peace and tranquility of this charming town, a visit to Rangeley is sure to be a memorable experience. So why wait? Start planning your trip to Rangeley today!
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