RICHMOND — Memorial Day is one of the most popular days for families across the country to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, and this year the Maine Turnpike Authority is expecting more than 890,000 vehicles to hit Maine’s roads.

Some of that traffic will head to campgrounds throughout the state, and local campground owners say they are ready for the rush.

The Augusta/Gardiner Kampground of America, at 30 Mallard Drive in Richmond, recently became Maine’s first KOA Journey campground, a designation given to places that meet certain criteria, such as being near highways, offering sites that are easy for recreational vehicles to use, and well-lit after-hours check in, according to a news release from KOA.

“They’re easy to find coming off of the highway,” said Patti Grover, co-owner of the Richmond location. “We’re actually quite centrally located for people to go to the ocean or mountains.”

Two Rivers Campground, located on 327 Canaan Road in Skowhegan, is fully booked this weekend. The campground, co-owned by Laura Liberty and husband Dan Carroll, offers visitors full access to the Kennebec River with free rentals of watercraft and a boat landing less than a mile away.

According to a 2012 Maine Office of Tourism report, only 11 percent of overnight leisure visitors to the Kennebec and Moose River Valley region are first-time visitors. Liberty said she has many repeat visitors to her campground from Massachusetts and New York. Of all overnight leisure visitors, 39 percent are from those two states.


The purpose of more than half of all overnight leisure trips is “to get away to relax,” according to the tourism report. Liberty thinks camping is a good way for families to reconnect while being away from regular surroundings.

“It’s a great family adventure,” Liberty said. “Sitting around a fire cooking marshmallows, reconnecting with your teenagers, being able to escape for a weekend.”

The turnpike authority is expecting traffic to be up 5.2 percent compared to Memorial Day weekend last year and is urging drivers to wear seat belts, look out for construction workers and limit use of cellphones. Texting while driving is illegal in Maine, with a fine for a first offense set at $100.

In addition, the turnpike authority says boats and campers are more likely to be on the road, and reminds drivers that if you cannot see a recreational vehicle’s mirrors, “they can’t see you.”

The weather in central Maine looks good for camping, although a little chilly at night, according to the National Weather Service. Saturday should be sunny with a high in the low 60s and an overnight low of 42 degrees. Sunday is predicted to be mostly sunny and 70 and Monday will be mostly sunny with a high of 76 degrees.

The Richmond KOA park was built in 1972, and Grover and her husband, Henry, are the park’s fourth owners. This year, the couple is renovating existing features, as well as adding new features.


“Our biggest project this year is redoing the pool,” Grover said. “We’re also working on the water system through the park, and we also put Wi-Fi in.”

in addition to many amenities such as laser tag and mini-golf, themed weekends spice up the camping experience.

April Paul, of Clinton, whose family regularly camps in Maine, said these weekends separate this campground from others in the area.

“Patti and Henry are great and love to be involved with their campers,” Paul said. “They’ve had Christmas and Halloween weekends. That gives me a chance to decorate the camper and the dog.”

Paul also said that the camp’s location, which is just a short distance from Pleasant Pond, offers opportunities unlike those of other campgrounds they have visited.

“It’s a different area,” Paul said. “They have a lake, and sometimes we bring our boat and go fishing. They just have little perks that are different from other places.”

While nothing special is planned for the Memorial Day weekend at Two Rivers, Liberty occasionally coordinates activities that are family-oriented, such as tie-dyeing and Christmas in July.

Liberty said the campground prides itself on providing families a clean, pleasant atmosphere.

“It’s very clean, and we pride ourselves on the restrooms and laundry rooms being clean,” Liberty said. “We pride ourselves on always being friendly.”

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