Driving Mt. Washington Auto Road in the Fall

During the fall we stayed in the White Mountain region of  New Hampshire state. It was a warm sunny day with clear blue skies, so we decided to choose this day to visit the tallest mountain in the North East of America known as Mount Washington.

There are three ways to reach the summit of Mount Washington. There is the Cog Railway which takes approximately 60 mins to ascend and 40 minutes to descend. For the very fit, there is the Appalachian hiking trail which takes approximately 3-4 hours each way. We chose the Auto Road which is also called the “The Road to the Sky” and takes approximately 20 minutes each way.

The Road to the Sky

The Auto Road is open to the public from May to October and is a 8 mile road with takes you to within a few metres of the summit. At a cost of $29 for the car and driver and a further $9 per passenger, this is a cheaper alternative to the Cog Railway. On payment of the entrance fee, we were handed an envelope which included an audio CD, a bumper sticker, a certificate to show we had ascended Mt. Washington and instructions on the Dos and Don’t during the drive.


As we left the the small visitor area, we popped the CD on play and started to ascend through the woods. Since it was Autumn, the trees were displaying beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. The road was wide enough for one lane up and one lane down.  The road winded through the woods for approximately a mile and a half, before it started to open up to views across the Presidential Range of the White Mountains.



We slowly ascended Mt. Washington at a speed of approximately 20mph. I tried to ignore the fact where there are straight drops to the side of the road and no crash barriers in place, instead enjoying the truly amazing views. The CD was very informative and told interesting stories about the history of the road.

The Views

The panoramic views across New Hampshire on a clear day are amazing, especially with the beautiful autumn colours. On a very clear day,  it is possible to see Mount Marcy which is 134 miles away in New York State.

The Summit

We parked up near the top and climbed purpose build steps to reach Mount Washington State Park, which is 60 acres around the summit of Mt. Washington. There was a queue and a small amount of rock climbing involved to get to the actual summit, but at 6288 FT above sea level, I can now say I have stood on the tallest point in North East America!

I was surprised that there wasn’t any signs of snow on the mountain since we were so high. Mount Washington receives snow all months of the year with an average yearly snowfall of 42 feet.

Tip Top Tree House

The Tip Top House is a former hotel which was built in 1853 and is now on the register of historic places. Inside, the former hotel is laid out with traditional furnishings which included very uncomfortable looking wooden bunk beds with an itchy blanket, wooden dining tables with benches as well as a small wood burning stove in the corner to provide heat. It reminds me how fortunate we are in modern times to have our creature comforts, but I am sure when an adventurer reached the hotel, that it was a welcome relief from the elements.

With the Auto Road ticket, we also had free entry to the Mount Washington Observatory and its museum. At 6,288 feet (1,916.6 metres) high, Mt. Washington is the tallest mountain in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains and the North East of America. It is known for its extremely weather conditions, having recorded the fastest wind speed in the world of 221mph on the April 12th 1934. Its because of these excessive winds, that some of the summit buildings are chained to the summit to stop them blowing away! The observatory has been manned since 1932 and temperatures have been recorded to drop as low as -44c.

The Drive Down

The road descends from the east of the mountain and has a steep decline, so it was important to select a low gear when driving down. Brakes can get hot very quickly, so there are lots of lay-bys so you can stop the car allowing the brakes to cool and look at the beautiful views.

Video of my visit to Mt Washington

During my visit to Mount Washington, I took video footage which I have compiled below. I hope you enjoy it!


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2 thoughts on “Driving Mt. Washington Auto Road in the Fall

  1. What a beautiful scenery you had all the way to the top of Mt. Washington. I haven’t been there but I’ve been to a couple of mountains in Colorado with the same driving experience: no crash barriers in place and straight drops to the side of the road. Scary!

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