The White Mountains are a star attraction in New England, the most rugged mountains in New England (they don’t call New Hampshire the Granite State for nothing), and covering about a quarter of the state with most of it public lands. One iconic granite formation on Cannon Mountain looked uncannily like the profile of an old man’s face, and became the Old Man of the Mountain, the iconic symbol of New Hampshire. Sadly, the Old Man slid down the mountain in 2003, but is forever immortalized on on route markers, license plates and all manner of merchandise.
It’s a hands-down favorite area for hiking in the summer and fall, from easier treks around popular attractions like The Flume Gorge, Lost River Reservation and Polar Caves Park, to longer and more rigorous hikes among the peaks, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. A renowned system of alpine huts operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club has long been serving adventurous hikers.
Winter also brings fun with a number of popular ski resorts, like Bretton Woods, Waterville Valley, Cannon Mountain, Loon Mountain, Attitash and Wildcat. There’s also no shortage of groomed cross-country ski, snowmobile and ATV trails.
There are also many attractions to supplement these outdoor pursuits. The historic Mount Washington Cog Railway still chugs up that most famous of peaks. The historic Mount Washington Hotel, one of the few remaining grand hotels, was the site of the Bretton Woods Conference after World War II. The region is also dotted with amusement parks like the iconic Clark’s Trading Post, Hobo Railroad, Story Land and Santa’s Village. Festivals abound throughout the seasons, often ending in fireworks.
Scenic drives cut through the area, the most popular being the Kancamagus Highway, cutting west-east from from Lincoln to Conway, and the Mount Washington Auto Road. Route 16 through Pinkham Notch and Route 302 through Crawford Notch are breathtaking. And even Interstate 93, cutting south-north through the region from Campton to Littleton is truly a scenic drive in its own right.
Fall is peak season for traffic, and if you guessed that the roads get crowded, you would be right, so trying for some off-peak times is a good idea. Regardless, you’ll fall in love with this beautiful area as so many others have.