A drive up the Mount Washington Auto Road is an experience like no other. With breathtaking vistas of the majestic Mount Washington Valley and the White Mountains around every bend, calling this a drive just doesn't do it justice. Instead, the 7.8 mile ascent up the 6,288-foot mountain—the Northeast's highest– is an awesome adventure, one that will amaze young and old alike.
Many visitors opt to take a self-guided tour to the top. With an average 12 percent grade, the steep and slender road winds its way up the mountain, and it typically takes at least 30 minutes for most passenger vehicles to summit and between 30 and 45 minutes to travel back to the base. Admission onto the Auto Road is $28 for a car and driver ($8 for each additional adult and $6 for children ages 5-12) and includes an audio tour that highlights the history of the route and the region and teaches about the terrain beneath the tires. Overlooks along the route offer the perfect place to pause for a picture or a picnic or to connect with the trail for a short hike through the alpine meadows and over the craggy cliffs. At the summit, look out across New England to the Atlantic and Canada and then slap on that infamous "This car climbed Mt. Washington" sticker to your vehicle. Hey—you earned it!
For those wishing to leave the driving to someone else, a guided van (called a "stage") tour is the ticket. Led by an experienced driver who will share the legends and lore all along the route and answer any questions, these guided trips usually take 1 ½ hours and include time to explore the summit. Tours are $35 for adults, $30 for military members and seniors (62 and older) and $15 for children ages 5-12.
The Mount Washington Auto Road has been open to the public since 1861 and no matter how you get to the top this is one journey more important than the destination. All tickets include free admission to the Mt. Washington Observatory's Museum at the summit, where you can learn about both the natural and human history of the mountain, including Mt. Washington's wild weather. It's here the highest wind speed was ever recorded on earth – a whipping 231 miles per hour (but don't worry- that was back in 1934) – and winds at the mountain's peak exceed hurricane force for an average of 110 days a year. Given this, travelers of the Auto Road are urged to bring along warm clothing, as blue skies seen from the base can quickly be covered with clouds and dense fog, causing temperatures to drop.
The Mount Washington Auto Road, located on Route 16 in Pinkham Notch just 11 miles south of the Top Notch Inn in Gorham, is open in spring, summer and fall.
For more information and a complete season schedule, visit www.mountwashingtonautoroad.com or call (603) 466-3988
Stay with us any 2 nights, Sunday – Friday, and receive discounted admission to either the Mt. Washington Auto Road or the Great Glen Trails. Call our toll free number for more information at 1-800-228-5496.