Mount Washington State Park

Mount Washington and the majestic Omni Resort

Mount Washington State Park is located in New Hampshire, United States of America. It is a 59-acre (23 hectare) park at the summit of Mount Washington, the tallest mountain peak in the entire northeast. It is surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest.


Mount Washington has an elevation of 6,288 feet (1916m) and is home of the Mount Washington Observatory which is manned year round. The mountain is home to some of the most extreme weather anywhere, and the record for highest measured land-based windspeed was recorded here in 1934 (231 mph). The weather at the top of the mountain is similar to that in Siberia, and winter temperatures can be as low as -47°F (-44°C).

The Mount Washington State Park is CLOSED from Mid October to Mid May. There is NO shelter or facilities for hikers at the summit once the park has closed.


The mountain was first climbed (by non-Native Americans) in 1642, but the mountain really took off as a tourist destination in the 19th century when bridle paths were first cut on the mountain (which ended up becoming the Mount Washington Auto Road). Construction of summit buildings, Carriage Road, and the Cog Railway all began in the 1850s. In 1908 a fire destroyed everything on the summit except Tip Top House.


Mount Washington is the central, highest summit of an alpine mountain massif called the Presidential Range where many peaks are named after former U.S. presidents. Other high peaks -- Mounts Clay, Jefferson, Adams and Madison -- the Northern Presidentials arc to the north and northeast. Massive Chandler Ridge heads ENE over secondary summits before descending to the valley of the Peabody River. An automobile road ascends this ridge. Great Gulf -- a large glacial cirque -- lies between Chandler Ridge and the Northern Presidentials.

East of the peak are two more cirques, Tuckermans's Ravine famous for spring skiing, and steeper Huntington Ravine attracting rock climbers in summer and ice climbers in winter, however these face away from the summit and are not visible from it. Distant views extend east across the Carter Range to the lowlands of southern Maine. At night, light from Portland and other coastal cities may be visible, but the Atlantic Ocean is just over the horizon.

South of the peak is a plateau above 5,000' (1,500m) named Bigelow Lawn. Beyond there are two major ridges. The higher ridge -- Southern Presidentials -- heads SW along a series of minor alpine peaks mostly named after presidents to Crawford Notch. Montalban Ridge heads south and rapidly drops below treeline beyond prominent Boott Spur. Oakes Gulf separates the two southern ridges.

Many other peaks of the White Mountains, especially the Franconia Range lie to the SW. Vermont's Green Mountains and New York's Adirondacks are to the west.

Flora and fauna

The park is in the alpine zone, approximately 1,500 feet (500 meters) above treeline. Flora is limited to lichens, grass and alpine herbs, including a dwarf variety of cranberry. About 1/2 mile (1 km) east of the park and some 1,000' (300m) lower, Alpine Gardens occupies a small plateau area at the head of ancient glacial cirques. Alpine Gardens are known for abundant alpine herbs and grasses, and for displays of flowers in late spring-early summer. The Alpine is to be protected so it can flourish properly, and it is encouraged for hikers to watch their steps not to crush them.

Homo sapiens touristicus is by far the most abundant fauna, but limited numbers of birds and insects inhabit the alpine zone in the warmest months.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 14 15 21 30 41 50 54 53 47 36 28 18
Nightly lows (°F) -4 -2 5 17 30 40 44 43 36 24 13 2
Precipitation (in) 6.4 6.8 7.7 7.4 8.2 8.4 8.8 8.3 8.0 9.3 9.9 7.7

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)

Mount Washington has earned the title of "Home to the Worst Weather in the World". It's also great place to study weather and the meteorologists at Mount Washington Observatory do that year round at the summit. It is important that you, too, are aware of conditions and forecasts as they can change very quickly here.

Get in

By car

By train

The Cog Railway

By foot

There are at least 15 trails up the mountain, including the Appalachian Trail which cuts across the mountain. The most popular route is a path known as Tuckerman's Ravine.

By shuttle

If you don't want to hike back down the mountain, there is a shuttle service available. However room is not always guaranteed, so do not assume there will be room on the shuttle and be prepared to hike down if needed! However, most tourists who drive up on their own will be willing to take down a visibly exhausted hiker.

By air

After flying you would need to rent a car. Logan International Airport in Boston is a 3 1/2 hour drive. The Jetport in Portland, Maine is a 1 1/2 hour drive. Manchester Airport in Manchester, NH is 2 1/2 hours away.


There is a fee to use the Mount Washington Auto Road.


Outstanding views are the main act. The Huts are provided for hikers to seek shelter and food. If you have special permission or access you can get a private tour of the Weather Station-workers leave here throughout the seasons and take observations and study certain aspects of Mount Washington. Some other highlights include:



Hikers can park at one of the available parking lots by the bases of the White Mountains. From there they can hike up with their belongings and reach on of the first huts below tree line called, Mizpah Spring. It's at an elevation of 3,800 ft. It is in full service with meals early June to mid-October. The distance from the shuttle stop to Crawford Path parking to the Hut is 2.6 miles. The distance to the next hut Lakes of the Clouds is 4.8 miles. The other huts include Lonesome Lake, Greenleaf, Galehead, Zealand Falls, Carter Notch, and Madison Spring.

Winter activities

In the winter many attempt to climb up the Tuckerman Ravine in order to get their fulfillment of skiing. It is very steep and probably should only be attempted by those who are experienced. People who ski and are looking for a challenge often come here to get a different type of steep skiing in. Snow boarding and snowshoeing are also popular activities.



There is a gift shop at the summit. Also, if you are staying at the huts they have little shops set up where you can buy merchandise with the huts name on it. They have Mount Washington souvenirs available, too. Hiking gear is available for the cold climate and to protect people from the hot sun.


There is a cafe at the summit. If you choose to stay at the huts the workers that live there make 2 meals a day. They provide you with an early breakfast to fill all of the hikers appetites before they take off hiking for the day. Also, they provide them with a nice big dinner. Where the Cog Train loads up there is a little restaurant there available for people ti fill themselves up before they head up the mountain.


There is a cafe at the summit available with drinks of your choice, and the huts have water fountains to fill up your water bottles when you are about to leave to go hike the rest of the trails.


If you are partaking in the Hut to Hut program they have several huts available along the trails for hikers to rest up at and to receive food. Depending on the trip you can stay at the huts for a certain amount of nights for a certain price. It is well worth the experience of roughing it out in the beautiful mountains that provide hundreds of breath taking views. For Sleep options see: White Mountain National Forest.


There are many trails to travel such as: Cascade Brook, Falling Waters, Lonesome Lake, Old Bridle Path, Gale River, Zealand, Crawford, Ammonoosuc Ravine, Tuckerman Ravine, Nineteen Mile Brook, Air Line, and Valley Way Trails. All are surrounded with beautiful scenery with flowers, trees, and amazing views of the valleys and into several other states such as Vermont, Maine.

For more information on the lower sections of the Mountains see section at White Mountain National Forest.

Stay safe

This mountain is home to some of the worst weather in the world. Always be prepared and take necessary precautions while hiking or skiing, and be sure to let someone know where you are. The paths are clearly marked for good reasons: do not stray off of them as several people have perished due to unexpected falls. Also exercise extreme caution during the winter months, particularly while skiing, as there are dozens of avalanches each year.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 10, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.