Logo   Mount Washington Auto Road
This is one way to reach the summit of Mount Washington, the eastern USA's highest mountain, by road and motor vehicle, whether you have a car or not.


In warm weather you can drive your own car (no trucks or campers) up the alpine toll road to the top of the highest peak in the northeast, 6,288-foot (1917-meter) Mount Washington.

The entrance to the Mount Washington Auto Road is on NH Route 16 in Pinkham Notch, opposite the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center (map).

If your vehicle is unsuitable for the climb, or you'd rather not drive, tour vans—and in winter special Snow Coaches— operated by the Mount Washington Summit Road Company will take you up and back down again (1-1/2 hours) for a fee. More...

Remember that Mount Washington has the most severe weather in the Northeast, and it's altogether possible for the road to be temporarily closed because of snow even in June or September.

The Mount Washington Auto Road, by the way, is only one of three ways to reach the Mount Washington summit, the others being by hiking following the Appalachian Mountain Club trails, or by the Mount Washington Cog Railway.

By the way, Great Glen Outfitters at the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center, opposite the entrance to the Auto Road, sells outdoor equipment, and rents bikes and helmets. Their system of trails is open to the public for free. They also organize river paddling trips.

The Mount Washington Auto Road is something of an engineering marvel. In 1854 a private business, the Mount Washington Road Company, began construction of a carriage road up the side of Mount Washington. In those pre-dynamite days they had only black powder (gunpowder) a "low" explosive poorly suited to blowing up rock. All detonation drilling holes had to be done by hand—in the face of Mount Washington's weather and temperature extremes.

Progress was made, but the company's money ran out in 1856, and the project languished. In 1859 a new company, the Mount Washington Summit Road Company, took over and resumed construction in 1859.

On August 8, 1861 the rough one-lane road, completed to the summit, was inaugurated and opened. Travelers rode to the summit, where several large resort hotels had been built, in horse-drawn omnibuses and carriages.

Mount Washington Auto Road
Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center
1 Mount Washington Auto Road
NH Route 16, Pinkham Notch (map)
P O Box 278
Gorham NH 03581
Tel: 603-466-3988

—by Tom Brosnahan

Auto Road Snow Coaches

Pinkham Notch Camp

Mt Washington Cog Railway

Mount Washington

Appalachian Mountain Club

White Mountain Nat'l Forest

Tourist Information

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About New Hampshire

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Mount washington Auto Road

The Mount Washington Road when it
opened as a carriage road in 1861.

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