Maine's state parks range from five acres to thousands of acres, but they all share a few qualities: scenic views, some of the best foliage-watching opportunities in Maine, and a chance for young and old to stretch their legs and enjoy the awe-inspiring autumn display. And with day-use rates of between $2 and $3.50 for adults (just $1 for children five to eleven, and free for those under five or over sixty-five), these spots are among the most affordable pieces of real estate in Maine. If you're planning to visit many of these parks, you might save even more by purchasing a $60 season vehicle pass, which allows the driver and all passengers unlimited day-use at all state parks. Parking is included in the price of admission, and overnight camping fees range from $11 to $20, depending on the park. You can make reservations by calling 800-332-1501 from within Maine or 207-287-3824 from out of state, or visit www.state.me.us/doc/parks/reservations
.Southern and Western Maine Ferry Beach State Park, Saco.
Nature trails, hiking, and picnicking, with a prime stretch of sandy beach for swimming. 207-283-0067.Scarborough Beach State Park, Scarborough.
A sandy swimming beach, with marshes, dunes, and fishing. 207-883-2416.Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth.
Greater Portland's most popular beach is an ideal spot for a late fall getaway. 207-767-3625.Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth.
Offers panoramic views of Casco Bay — and some great picnicking. 207-799-5871.Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, Freeport.
One of Freeport's hidden gems, this is a great nature preserve with hiking and picnicking and views of Casco Bay. 207-865-4465.Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal.
A short hike with great rewards are the draw at this park not far from Portland; very popular with families and picknickers. 207-688-4712.Sebago Lake State Park, Naples.
Among the most popular parks in Maine, this Greater Portland facility is well known for its swimming, camping, and boat launching. Guided nature walks are also available. 207-693-6613.Range Ponds State Park, Poland.
A day-use park with great swimming, fishing, and popular sports fields. 207-998-4104.Grafton Notch State Park, Newry area
. Some fantastically scenic gorges — Screw Auger Falls and Mother Walker Falls — and a pair of great peaks to climb in Old Speck and Baldpate mountains contribute to the overall appeal of this park. 207-824-2912.Mount Blue State Park, Weld
. A gem of a park in the western mountains, Mount Blue offers nature trails, swimming, camping, and canoe and boat rentals. 207-585-2347.Rangeley Lake State Park, Rangeley
. Camping, landlocked salmon fishing, hiking, and boating are among the draws at this Rangeley institution. 207-864-3858.Central and Northern Maine Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg
. One of the midcoast's most popular beaches, Popham offers saltwater swimming to the hardy — in autumn, some may even say foolhardy — as well as fishing. The ruins of Fort Popham are nearby. 207-389-1335.Reid State Park, Georgetown
. More than a mile of beach, dunes, ledges, and fine swimming draws thousands to Reid in the summer. 207-371-2303.Peacock Beach State Park, Richmond
. Freshwater swimming and picnicking are the appeal at this park on Pleasant Pond. 207-582-2813.Damariscotta Lake State Park, Jefferson
. A small, sandy beach on Damariscotta Lake provides visitors with fishing and swimming opportunities. 207-549-7600.Camden Hills State Park, Camden.
Thirty miles of hiking trails thread through the woods here. Two mountains — Megunticook and Battie — are especially popular with hikers, lifting people up to views of Penobscot Bay. The camping area fills up, too. 207-236-3109.Warren Island State Park, Islesboro
. One of the few island parks in Maine, Warren sits amid beautiful Penobscot Bay and is only accessible by boat, offering hiking, camping, and fishing. 207-236-3109.Lake St. George State Park, Liberty
. Swimming, superb fishing, and camping draw people to this corner of Waldo County. 207-589-4255.Swan Lake State Park, Swanville.
Picnicking, swimming, and fishing on Swan Lake. 207-525-4404.
Moose Point State Park, Searsport.
Picnicking on a very scenic stretch of Penobscot Bay is the attraction at this under-used gem. 207-548-2882.Fort Point State Park, Stockton Springs
. This all-but-unknown park provides opportunities for fishing, a pier for boats, and access to a lighthouse and ruins of Fort Pownall nearby.Peaks-Kenny State Park, Dover-Foxcroft
. Great swimming, camping, and fishing reward those who find this great park on upcountry Sebec Lake. 207-564-2003.Lily Bay State Park, Greenville Area
. Highly scenic campsites, fishing, hiking, and boating on Moosehead Lake. 207-695-2700.Aroostook State Park, Presque Isle
. Maine's northernmost state park, Aroostook has good camping, hiking, boating, and fishing. 207-768-8341.Eastern MaineHolbrook Island Sanctuary, Brooksville
. Nature trails and picnicking on the shore of Penobscot Bay, plus a 115-acre island just offshore. 207-326-4012.Lamoine State Park, Lamoine
. Fishing, camping, and boating on Frenchman's Bay are the draws at Lamoine. A good alternative when nearby Acadia National Park fills up. 207-667-4778.Roque Bluffs State Park, Roque Bluffs
. Salt-and freshwater swimming and fishing on Englishman Bay. 207-255-3475.Quoddy Head State Park, Lubec.
Quoddy Head is the state's only red-and-white-striped lighthouse, overlooking its easternmost shoreline. The hiking here is exceptional, winding for miles atop plunging cliffs. 207-733-0911.Cobscook Bay State Park, Dennysville
. Views of Cobscook Bay (and tides of twenty-four feet!) and fantastic camping bring people to this Down East park. Kayakers like the easy access (but be careful of the tides). 207-726-4412.