Selfishly, I’d like to think that once you arrive in Waterville Valley, you’ll never be tempted to visit anyplace else in New Hampshire. But, the mountains beckon and it’s only fair that we share the rest of our state’s mountain region with you.
Ski NH, the statewide association representing 33 alpine and cross country resorts and more than 200 lodging and guest service properties in New Hampshire, put together a mountain region driving tour. Read the story, below…and check out the Granite State’s beautiful mountain areas.
With mountains, lakes, and seacoast all within a few hours’ drive, it’s no wonder New Hampshire is known for its spectacular natural beauty. Many visitors choose to explore the state’s highways and back roads, experiencing all that it has to offer. While enjoying these scenic routes, travelers are bound to pass several Ski NH resorts, which provide an excellent opportunity to get out of the car and enjoy some outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities.
The central part of the state is where you’ll find Ragged Mountain, on Rte. 104 in Danbury. When the snow melts, Ragged Mountain turns into a golfer’s paradise, with a scenic 18-hole championship course that is considered one of the state’s most challenging. Heading east, visitors will land in the heart of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region with Gunstock Mountain Resort on Rte. 11A in Gilford. Gunstock offers the Aerial Treetops Adventure Course, ZipTour zip-lines, Mountain Segway tours, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, paddle boating, minigolf, and many other activities. Nordic Skier Sports is located on the eastern shore of Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro; America’s first resort. Guests will find miles of walking, running, hiking, mountain biking and road bike adventures along the lake shores.
Traveling north on I-93 offers the best of both worlds with incredible scenery and stress-free driving. Exit 28 leads travelers onto Rte. 49 to Waterville Valley. This scenic ride ends in a valley surrounded by 4,000 foot peaks and offers more than 60 miles of mountain bike and hiking trails, with lift service on Snow’s Mountain. There’s a 9-hole golf course, skate/BMX park, water sports, and many other activities around the resort’s Town Square.
Further up I-93 visitors are rewarded with views of Cannon Mountain and Franconia Notch. Just south of the Notch at Exit 32 is the renowned Kancamagus Highway (Rte. 112), featuring Loon Mountain with scenic gondola rides, Aerial Forest Adventure Park, biking, horseback rides, a zip-line ride and more. Those choosing to continue northward on I-93 enter Franconia Notch, home to the Old Man of the Mountain Historic Site and Cannon Mountain’s Aerial Tramway. Cannon’s tram whisks guests to the summit, with magnificent views of the Franconia Range and Echo Lake. Walkers or bikers can take in all there is to see in Franconia Notch on the State Park’s recreation path.
Only minutes from Cannon Mountain and Franconia Notch is the Sunset Hill House. At the Sunset Hill House you’ll find 360 degree views, including vistas of Franconia Notch and the Presidential Range, along with the state’s longest operating 9-hole golf course.
From Franconia Notch, Rte. 3 north will bring you to Rte. 302 east, which travels past the historic Omni Mount Washington Hotel and Bretton Woods. Activities there include scenic chairlift rides, canopy tours, golf, tennis, swimming, rock climbing, horseback riding, disc golf, mountain biking, zip-lines and hiking. Rte. 302 continues through Crawford Notch toward Black Mountain, which is located off Rte. 16 in the quaint town of Jackson with horseback and pony rides. Further up Rte. 16 is the Mount Washington Auto Road and Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center. This is an opportunity to summit Mount Washington by vehicle. Great Glen Trails also offers mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, and more.
North Conway is just up the road as well, known for its tax-free outlet shopping, local crafts, restaurants and active nightlife. Cranmore Mountain Resort is located in the center of North Conway, and offers the Soaring Eagle Zip-Line, Mountain Coaster rides, an Aerial Adventure Course, EuroBungy Trampoline, scenic chairlift rides, the Adventure Park, Segway Tours and many other attractions.
Just past North Conway, East Madison is the home of Purity Spring Resort off Rte. 153. Purity Spring is famous for its family atmosphere and summer camps. There are a variety of water sports, nature tours, and many other outdoor activities offered.
A drive through the southern part of New Hampshire could include a stop at Mount Sunapee, on the shores of Lake Sunapee, offering Canopy Zip-Line Tours, a Treetop Obstacle Course, Segway excursions, disc golf, and lift-serviced hiking on certain weekends and several special events. Eastman Recreation Center is located in Grantham near exit 13 off I-89. Eastman’s 18-hole golf course is set among towering pines with picturesque views.
New Hampshire truly offers some of North America’s most scenic byways. Combine this with the multitude of activities available and it’s easy to see that New Hampshire offers a great vacation for guests of all ages.