The St. John Valley Cultural and Fish River National Scenic Byway
A Culturally Rich Drive Through A Stunning Landscape
Formally the St. John Valley Cultural Byway, the St. John Valley Cultural and Fish River National Scenic Byway is a working Byway, but more importantly, it is a cultural journey. Hewn from many political conflicts, border disputes and treatise resolutions that resulted in deportation, migration, exile, and expansion, the historical and cultural remnants are a well-preserved testimony to past struggles and triumphs. The St. John Valley Cultural and Fish River National Scenic Byway is a place unlike any other, where communities still celebrate their ancestry, from the Maine Acadians to the Scotch-Irish settlements; from the Native American tribes of the Wesget Sipu, Maliseet, and Mi’kmaq to the French-Canadian or ―Quebecois‖.
This is a place of cultural traditions where it is as common to hear the French language as it is English. Small-town values and helpful, knowledgeable locals leave visitors with a lasting impression and sense of place, which they are eager to recount to their friends and family. The St. John Valley Cultural Byway exhibits a heritage and a way of life as it once was and how it continues to be.
The St. John Valley Cultural and Fish River National Scenic Byway, sometimes known as the Parcours culturel de la Vallee, is rich with Maine's Acadian heritage and culture. The byway travels a total of 129 miles along the northern border of Maine and through the St. John Valley.
The western terminus of the byway begins in Dickey on Route 161, adjacent to the Allagash Historical Society Museum and continues eastward until it joins US Route 1 in Fort Kent. From Fort Kent, the byway follows Route 1 to the intersection of US Route 1 and US Route 1A in Van Buren. It then follows Route 1A to the Hamlin/Caswell town line. The byway also includes a section of Route 162 from the intersection of US Route 1 and Route 162 in Frenchville to the community of Sinclair. the byway also includes a section of Route 1 from the intersection of Route 1 and Route 1A in Van Buren traveling southbound approximately 4/5 miles to a location in Cyr Plantation.
Fish River Stretch
Settled by French-Acadians in the 19th century, one of the topmost national scenic byways, traverses the rolling lands between the lakeside town of Portage and Fort Kent which stretches along the historic St. John River.
The landscape provides travelers with unparalleled views of wildflower meadows, Eagle Lake and Maine's highest peak, Mt. Katahdin. Much of the route is forested, and wildlife abounds, including eagles, moose, landlocked salmon, brook trout and beaver. Camping, fishing, hiking, hunting and snowmobiling are popular activities here, with wilderness camps lining the shores of the area's lakes.
Route 11 is a primary north-south transportation corridor connecting Aroostook County, Maine, and New Brunswick, Canada. The byway's northern gateway is at historic Fort Kent, where in 1839, the U.S. constructed a blockhouse to protect its claim on the northern woods. This region retains a strong Acadian influence in its food and cultural traditions.