"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summiting Mt. Washington, NH - In a Van

New Hampton, NH
Ames Brook RV Park

The highest peak in the Northeastern United States is Mount Washington at 6,288 feet in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  It is known for its erratic weather and crazy wind speeds.  To this day it holds the world record for the fastest wind gust at 231 mph.

The trail Steve, Curt, Glenda and I would be hiking is 8 1/2 miles up and back down with a gain of nearly 3500 ft.  This is a strenuous rated hike and you have strong winds and cold weather to deal with.  It would've been one of our most difficult hikes, BUT, once again I didn't get all my facts in order.  Once again, NO dually trucks are allowed up the mountain.  We considered renting a car to take up, but I found out that there was a van tour that would take you up and back.  Besides, the weather was about 40 degrees at the top with wind gusts around 40mph that day.

We had some time to kill so we visited the Red Barn Museum on the premises.  It holds the Auto Road's history. We had a very nice gentleman give us a tour.
One of the earlier means of transportation 7.6 miles up to the top.
There was once a fleet of 8 1918 Pierce Arrow Touring Cars. This is the only one left.
1938 Ford Station Wagon (The Woodie) was another popular tour vehicle.
The Corbin Electric Motorcycle
In 1974 this motorcycle was used to set the first ascent record up the Mt. Washington Auto Road of an electric vehicle.

Our van tour was beginning so off we went. You can drive yourself for $19 for the driver and $9 for each additional adult passenger, or take the tour for $36 each adult ($31 senior rate). The Auto Road first opened in 1861.  As we began to drive up we passed the trail where the Appalachian crosses the road and climbs to the top.  This has to be one of the toughest parts of the trail besides the summit in Maine. 
 Appalachian Trail crossing.
 Nothing but beautiful views as you climb above the tree line.  We were very lucky to have a break in the cloudy weather and get some nice sunshine.  Much of the time it is raining or foggy at the top and you can't see the fantastic views as you climb.

While most of the grade averages about 12%, there are some spots that are really, really steep.  And there is no guardrail on the other side of that white line!  Just a sheer drop off!
I think this is about the spot where Glenda started hyperventilating.

Besides driving, you can take the Cog Railway.  This is the rail car in the above picture.  We were surprised just how steep and straight up this rail car goes.

A cog railway has special traction to ascend very steep mountains.
 The cog railcars.

Once at the top it was so cold we went straight for the High Point marker for a picture.  It was so windy it was hard to walk or even stand still. There was a cafĂ© and museum up top to warm up in.
Layers, gloves and head scarves come in very handy!

 The very top of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire!
This was once a nice little hotel.
Made of rock on the outside.
Cozy inside. Bunks (right picture).
 How windy IS it?  VERY!  Hard to even stand up on this side of the summit.
 Another nice hairdo for me.
 Curt's hat flew off just after this picture.  Luckily a guy chased it down as it flew past him and Curt got it back. You can see part of the Weather Station and Observatory in the background.
Besides the cache at the summit there was a memorial cache down the side of the mountain just a bit.
You were encouraged to bring a rock to leave with an inspirational meaning.
Some of the many colorful rocks.
 Our contribution.
Holy cow is it windy and COLD up here!  After an hour it was time to go back down and warm up. 
The views were amazing at the top when I was able to hold the hair out of my face long enough to get a picture.

Cover your eyes, Glenda!
The road was very narrow in spots and I an see why dually trucks are not allowed.  Also the smell of burning brakes filled the air on the way down.  They did have little pull outs now and then so you could let your brakes cool off.
 Back down at the bottom we walked around the lodge and enjoyed the flowers and views of the summit.


If you come in the winter, this is how you get to the top! 
We took a nice drive through some little towns and came across this covered bridge called The Honeymoon Bridge.  It was built around 1876.  It is one of twenty examples of the Paddleford truss design. 
 After a nice Mexican dinner we called it a day!
Vermont, here we come.


  1. Great post on Mt Washington. Very cold and windy but fun time. Wish my phone had not shut down, only got a few pictures. Love your photos.

  2. What an awesome adventure! The Red Barn Museum looks cool, as does the summit....literally!

    1. We were lucky to get good weather. It's a beautiful place. The museum had lots of interesting "firsts" for the summit. There are also car races to the top, bike and running races too!

  3. Replies
    1. Just read your post. What a great challenge! Next time we will be better prepared and try for a hike again! It really bothered me that I messed up twice in a row with the details. Plus we'll need a closer campsite. Ours was an hour drive away.

  4. You had such beautiful weather on your trip to the top! Great pictures. I would not be able to go up in the winter, I would be a wreck on that road filled with snow. No thanks!

    1. We got lucky, it was socked in with fog the day before. Winter would make for more cool views. Might be a bit scary though.

  5. We did this on our motorcycle!! We had a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic and carried a large pack on top of our tour pack when we were on a long trip. Because of the possible wind on the drive up, the rangers let us leave our extra pack at the VC so we had the best balance. It is an interesting visit to the top! Great photos!

    1. We were thinking it would be a pretty motorcycle drive but I never thought how the wind would affect the drive. I would not want to be blown around! Good idea leaving the pack behind.

  6. Nice post and pictures about Mt. Washington. Your blog posts are always very informative. I don't think I could race to the top on that road! Maybe with guard rails...maybe not.

    1. Thanks Gene. The car racing sounded the scariest. They did it in just minutes!

  7. We tried to go up in a dually too. They gave us discount tickets for the van when they told us we couldnt take the truck up. We were glad they wouldnt let us, yikes!

    1. How nice of them to offer discount tickets. We were glad to be in the van and leave the driving to someone else.

  8. After seeing the photos I totally get why the dually had to be grounded for this one. I'm used to driving it now :-) Next up is towing it... Glad you had great weather for this one.

    1. We agree. You'll love your new truck! You'll keep turning around wondering if your trailer is really back there! It would've been nice if they turned the wind off for us but it adds to the area. It was so cold you couldn't stay outside for very long!


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