When one thinks of major places to visit in New Hampshire two things probably come to mind. One would be New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. The other would be the White Mountains.
The White Mountains are a mountain range that covers about 25% of the State of New Hampshire and extend a little bit into western Maine. Technically part of the Appalachian Mountains, they are considered to be the most rugged mountains in New Hampshire and all of New England. Their most famous peak, Mount Washington, is also the tallest mountain in the northeastern United States at 6,288 feet. The peak is notorious for its dangerously erratic weather and holds the record for the highest recorded surface wind speed in the Northern and Western Hemisphere. In total there are 48 peaks of over 4,000 feet in the White Mountains. Mount Washington and many of these peaks are part of the Presidential Range, so named because many of the peaks are named after U.S. Presidents.
Mostly Public Land
The vast majority of the White Mountains are public land including the White Mountain National Forest, and the Mount Washington State Park and other new Hampshire State Parks. With all of this public land opportunities for outdoor activities abound, including: ATVing, biking, camping, canoeing/kayaking, climbing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, picnicking, skiing (Alpine and Nordic), snowmobiling, snowshoeing, swimming and more.
Notable Attractions and Things to Do
- Go Antiquing – Many of the towns in the White Mountains are well know antiquing destinations. The New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association maintains a comprehensive list of dealers by name, location, and specialty.
- Cut Your Own Christmas Tree – Come winter time you may cut down your own Christmas tree (PDF format) in the White Mountain National Forest.
- See a Covered Bridge – New Hampshire is famous for its covered bridges. There are nearly 30 of these New Hampshire treasures in the White Mountains. Each is unique and provides its own special scenic features.
- Take a Hike – In addition to the hiking available in the White Mountain National Forest and numerous state parks, 160.9 miles of the Appalachian Trail stretch through New Hampshire, 117 miles of which run through the White Mountains. But come prepared, the White Mountain stretch of the Appalachia Trail has a high difficulty rating, and as much of it is above the tree line, weather can be unpredictable.
- Take in the Fall Foliage – The White Mountains have some of the most spectacular fall foliage viewing in the world. You can start to see the first signs of this annual even in mid to late August, with peak foliage viewing typically falling between the end of September and the first two weeks of October. The the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) through the White Mountains is considered to be one of New England’s best fall foliage drives. Other popular drives include Route 2 from Gorham to Jefferson and Route 16 from Jackson Village to Pinkham Notch.
- Go Fishing – The White Mountains are trout territory. So if you are looking to hook a Brook, Brown, or Rainbow trout be sure to check out the Ellis River, Saco River, Swift River, and Wildcat River to name a few.
- Drive the Mount Washington Auto Road – Billed as “America’s Oldest Manmade Tourist Attraction” dating from 1861, the road to the top of Mount Washington provides spectacular and ever changing views.
- Ride a Train – Historic and scenic railroads await train buffs including the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln, and the Mt. Washington Cog Railway in Bretton Woods.
- Drive a Scenic Byways – Drive a scenic byway such as the Connecticut River Byway that stretches from Massachusetts, through New Hampshire and Vermont, or the Kancamagus Scenic Byway or the White Mountain Trail offering some of New England’s best mountain scenery.
- Ski Tuckerman’s – Tuckerman Ravine is a famous and very popular destination for spring back country skiing. But be forewarned that this is not your typical “recreational” skiing. Skiing Tuckerman Ravine requires great skill, the strength to climb up the ravine (there are no lifts), and the ability to assess avalanche danger.
- Find Summer Fun at NH Ski Resorts – Whether its the Mountain Coaster at Attitash in Bartlett, or the Cannon Aerial Tramway in Franconia Notch, or the Wildcat Express Gondola Skyride or ZipRider at Wildcat Mountain in Pinkham Notch, summer fun abounds at these ski resorts.
- Visit a Theme Park – There are numerous theme parks in the White Mountains including Clark’s Trading Post in Lincoln, Santa’s Village in Jefferson, Six Gun City & Fort Splash in Jefferson, Story Land in Glenn, and Whale’s Tale Water Park in Lincoln.
- View Water Falls – There are over 100 waterfalls in the White Mountains. Some can be seen from the road but most require a hike. Check out Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch, Bridal Veil Falls near Easton, and Glen Ellis Falls south of Pinkham Notch to name a few. For a complete list of falls see: White Mountains Waterfalls.
There is so much to do in the White Mountains that people come back year after year in all seasons to enjoy its beauty and attractions.
Photo credits: The picture of Mount Washington is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The picture of the Franconia Ridge Trail is from Wikipedia. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The picture of Tuckerman Ravine is by Steve Bennett from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.