White Mountain Adventure from North Woodstock to Mount Washington
The highlight of this trip is two things: the cog railway up to the summit of Mount Washington followed by a relaxing drink on the porch of the Omni Mount Washington Resort. We traveled through Franconia Notch State Park from North Woodstock/Lincoln area to get to the railway and the drive is just incredible.
There are a lot of tourist centers around this region that would make a trip to Mount Washington a great day trip. But in our case we were staying in North Woodstock – boondocking (well we did plug in so that’s a bit like cheating) at another couple’s house. This is the best kind of camping there is!
We traveled through Franconia Notch State Park where there is no shortage of things to do and see but we just drove through and got off at US3 from the I93. We followed signs to Mount Washington (US 302 is where you leave US3) and enjoyed the drive. The anticipation of a travel experience can be a lot of fun. I had no idea what to expect only having read about the old 19th century cog railway going up the largest mountain east of the Mississippi.
We arrived and parked – though it was crowded – and immediately went to the box office for tickets. We were able to get on the next train that was just about to depart. I would, however, strongly suggest you make reservations in advance as the trains do sell out and we were very very lucky. Our conductor was entertaining and we were off before very long to the top of the mountain. I didn’t even really have time to get nervous.
The cost of the trip for adults is $65 and the trip is roughly two hours. There is an excellent brochure that you can download here that gives all sorts of details about the experience that I can’t possibly get into. The feeling of being on top of the world pretty much summed up my experience. It was incredible. Awesome in the true meaning of the word before it was used to replace “okay.” If you live in the Rocky Mountains or the Alps, you might not have the same feeling but for most people this would be an incredible experience. Keep in mind it is quite a bit colder up the mountain!
At the summit there is a place for food and drink. Plenty of observation points. A photo moment you can queue for if you like that tells you how high you are. There’s also an interesting building that once served tourists that we went into. The views are breathtaking and the Appalachian Trail goes right by here providing yet more interest and interesting people. After a bit more than an hour at the top it was time to go back down.
We made sure we hit the well run gift shop on the way out. We then drove to the Omni Mt. Washington Resort. I do love old hotels and this, surrounded by the beauty of the mountains, was spectacular. We sat on the back porch of the hotel and had drinks and some appetizers. This was worth every penny. It was relaxing and historic and a moment in time that could have occurred a hundred years ago. It was magical. I went for a walk to the shops in the basement and poked around some of the hotel’s public spaces. Again, magical is the best description.
All in this was an incredible day and one you could easily re-create from anywhere in the area. Plan ahead, dress appropriately (given the change in temperature at the summit), and relax. Soak up the beauty as there is no shortage of it on this trip!