Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Amusement & Theme Parks, Family Day Trips, Family Weekend Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, Holidays on the Road, Kid-Friendly Trips, Nature & Wildlife, Other Great RV Routes, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Roads & Routes, RVing with Grand Kids, Scenic Byways/Historic Routes
Mount Washington Traffic Increasing
New Hampshire’s Mount Washington has the reputation of being “Home of the world’s worst weather”.
Severe storms, including snow, can happen at any time of the year. The combination of severe winds, cold, and wetness can exhaust the strongest hiker.
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the White Mountains of New Hampshire—and in the Northeast—and is therefore a very popular attraction for RVers and other sightseers and hikers. As a result the most widely used trails can be quite crowded, and however you climb the summit will have crowds, many having come up by the Cog Railway or the Auto Road.
Mount Washington Cog Railway
The beauty of the mountains and the thrill of ascending the Northeast’s highest peak are just as enchanting today as they were in 1869, when Sylvester Marsh opened the world’s first mountain-climbing railroad on Mount Washington.
Nearly 150 years later, the Mount Washington Cog Railway continues to provide a sense of adventure and history as it carries passengers up a 3-mile-long trestle and the steepest railroad tracks in North America to the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington.
There, visitors can take in the spectacular panoramic view, spanning the mountains and valleys of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, north into Canada, and east to the Atlantic Ocean.
Passengers may choose to ride The Cog in a car powered by a historic steam locomotive or the more modern and eco-friendly biodiesel engines. A fifth diesel engine is currently under construction.
The company is also revamping the track system at the summit so that trains can start up the track every 45 minutes.
This coming year, Cog Railway will try running until New Year’s weekend, and if that goes well, opening weekends and holidays all winter. The Cog would not go all the way to the summit in the wintry months.
In 2013, the Cog moved 80,000 people, the most ever.
Mt Washington Auto Road
The Mount Washington Auto Road (originally Mount Washington Carriage Road) is a 7.6 mile toll road that extends from New Hampshire Route 16 in Pinkham Notch to the summit of Mount Washington in the White Mountains.
The road climbs 4,618 feet from an elevation of 1,527 feet at the bottom to 6,145 feet at the top, an average gradient of 11.6 percent.
The Mount Washington Auto Road was completed in 1861. On August 8, 1861 Col. Joseph Thompson drove the first horse drawn vehicle up to the summit of Mount Washington.
Today, approximately 40,000 cars drive Mt. Washington Auto Road annually.
Hiking Mount Washington
Note that it is a strenuous climb for those who are not in good shape. The distance by most routes is around four miles each way; that may not sound like much. But in those four miles you gain roughly 4,000 feet of elevation, which is a lot for those not used to strenuous exercise.
Mount Washington State Park
Members of the Mount Washington Commission support and encourage the increased use of the Mount Washington State Park at the summit of Mount Washington but success has its drawbacks.
“It’s getting busier and busier,” park general manager Mike Pelchat said.
“We used to see hundreds waiting their turn to get their picture taken at the sign, usually in the summer, not the winter. Literally, now we have hundreds in the winter.”
In the normal summer season, the increasing numbers of people who visit the summit is seen as a good thing.
Mount Washington Cog Railway
Location: 6 miles from Route 302 in Bretton Woods
Mailing Address: Mt. Washington, NH 03589
Phone: (603) 278-5404
Mt Washington Auto Road
Location: NH Route 16 in Pinkham Notch, 12 miles north of Jackson and 8 miles south of Gorham
Mailing Address: 1 Mount Washington Auto Road, Gorham, NH 03581
Phone: (603) 466-3988
For information about RV parks and campgrounds, check out Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory.
A mountain has no need for people, but people do need mountains. We go to them for their beauty, for the exhilaration of standing closer to mysterious skies, for the feeling of triumph that comes from having labored to reach a summit.
—Earl Hamner, Jr.
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