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Mount Washington Auto Road

Drive to the highest peak in New England


Last updated: by Olha Savych
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Mount Washington Auto Road is one of the most scenic drives in the Northeast. It leads from New Hampshire Route 16 at Glen House in Pinkham Notch (between Gorham and Jackson) to the top of Mount Washington in the White Mountains, the highest peak in New England. Opened in 1861, the road attracts more than 45,000 vehicles each year.

The road starts from the mark of 1,527 ft (465 m) at the bottom and climbs up 4,618 ft (1,408 m) to reach 6,145 ft (1,873 m) at the top. The way of 7.6 mi (12.2 km) takes about 30 minutes. Even though the major part of the road is covered with tar and only one mile is gravel, the average gradient is 11.6% which makes it challenging to drive down. You can hire a guide who will do it for you.

The entrance to Mount Washington is paid for. The rate for a car and driver is $31, plus $9 for each adult passenger. For a motorcycle, the price is $17, and bicycles are not allowed except the day of the bike race. Besides, there is an option to take 2- or 3-hour guided tours. For adults, they cost $36 and $65 respectively.

The season begins in early May and ends in late October. The dates depend on the amount of snow in the mountains. While on the road, travelers should abide by the closing hours—the time when the last vehicle is allowed to start up. Besides, all visitors have to leave the peak within 45 minutes after closing time. It depends on the month and weather, but usually, the road is open from 8-9 a.m. till 4-6 p.m. Several times during a season the way opens earlier for sunrise drives. Also, there are days when the route is closed for cars: motorcycles run day, all-terrain vehicles day, and bike race.

The weather is extremely unstable and hard to predict: cloudless sky turns into a heavy snowfall, temperature changes as you climb up, and a strong wind beats any imaginable records. On April 12, 1934, on top of Mount Washington was recorded the second highest wind speed on the planet—231 Mph (372 km/h). So before going on a trip, check the weather and take some warm clothes with you.

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