A poet once wrote that it is the journey, not the arrival that matters; he might well have had the White Mountains in mind. Choose any route and just head up the road. Each one has its special rewards – scenes of pastureland and forest, charming New England villages, and wide open panoramic mountain views. Only here would the drive along I-93, afford some of the best views to be had.
Most Popular Routes
I-93 and Franconia Notch Parkway
From Woodstock north on I-93 to where the highway becomes the Franconia Notch Parkway (in Lincoln), this stretch of road is amazingly scenic, affording spectacular views of long vistas. The parkway takes you through Franconia Notch State Park, and between the towering peaks of the Franconia and Kinsman mountain ranges.
The Kancamagus Highway
Undoubtedly the most scenic route in the White Mountains, the Kancamagus Highway (Rt. 112) stretches from the western point, the Pemigewasset River in Lincoln and winds east 34 1/2 miles to North Conway. The views are dramatic:
Crossing the flank of Mt. Kancamagus, this National Scenic Byway climbs to nearly 3,000 feet. There are numerous scenic outlooks and scenic areas, so plan to stop along the way. The scenic areas, which have been designated by the Forest Service to preserve their outstanding and unique beauty, include the Rocky Gorge Scenic Area, right off the highway; Sawyer Pond, and Greeley Ponds Scenic Areas, a half day’s hike over Forest trails.
Please note there are no gas stations or other services along this route.
Rt. 112 from North Woodstock to Bath
While the Kancamagus ends in Lincoln, Rt. 112 continues through North Woodstock and Kinsman Notch, and Easton, as well as the Connecticut River Valley. A beautiful route off the beaten path.
Rt. 175 or Rt. 3 from North Woodstock to Campton and Plymouth
Truly a “shunpike”, Rt. 175 is well worth the drive. Rt. 3 parallels the more frequently traveled I-93.
Rt. 118 from North Woodstock to Warren
This route climbs steeply through beautiful woodlands and offers a sweeping view near the height-of-land.
Rt. 116 from Franconia village to Rt. 112
This ride takes you through Easton where you can reverse direction and head to Sugar Hill. Don’t miss Sunset Hill Road; while short, it affords spectacular views, and the Lupines that bloom the first two weeks of June.
We should also mention, that along these routes, Rt. 117 from Rt. 302 to Rt. 18, Rt. 142 from Franconia to Bethlehem, Jefferson Notch Road near the Mt. Washington Cog Railway base to Rt. 2, and Mt. Clinton Road from Crawford Notch and Rt. 302 to the Cog Railway base, you’ll find superb views, hiking or walking trails, waterfalls, and picnic areas. Along the way, look for these covered bridges:
Moose sightings are quite common in Mountain Country. Most common sightings are along Route 118; on the Kancamagus Scenic Byway especially near the Passaconaway Campground; and around Crawford Notch. Moose are often on the move at dawn and dusk, especially in low lying or swampy areas. If you see one – brake! If you want to watch them, pull safely over to the side of the road (watching for other cars), and stay in your car! Best bet: take a moose and wildlife tour with Pemi Valley Excursions, they’ll take you on a scenic tour of the best moose watching areas in the White Mountains. Remember, these animals are wild and can move quickly and unpredictably.
Also, by staying in your car, you will be less likely to disturb the moose, and will more likely enjoy a longer period to view this majestic beast.