Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

New Hampshire's White Mountains Call RVers

A “journey” was once the equivalent of one-day's travel, but a trip to the White Mountains is so much more

By Carolyn Ross Tomlin

New Hampshire's White Mountains Call RVers
A “journey” was once the equivalent of one-day's travel, but a trip to the White Mountains is so much more.

Early colonists came to New England seeking a better way of life. For some, this meant owning their own home and land. For others, religious freedom. And for some, political reasons helped realize dreams.

Today, visitors travel to this area and New Hampshire’s White Mountains for many reasons. But all will agree: It’s not the destination, but the journey that’s important.

With so many attractions in close proximity, RVers can choose to stay and view the spectacular scenery a while or experience several events within a few days’ time.

A Lesson in History

The White Mountains Region offers a leisurely lesson in history – much like a rich tapestry that weaves a story of early settlers, hardships and harsh winter weather. However, for most, it’s the magnificent scenery that draws people to the area.

At Franconia you’ll see Robert Frost Place, the home of one of America’s most famous poets. Take time to view the 20-minute video to learn of his life and accomplishments. As you visit the grounds, imagine the poet walking the trails and allowing his mind to put thoughts into words, words into poems. Frost often wrote of the simple life, his love for the land and the beauty of his beloved White Mountains.

Here, you’ll understand how generation upon generation made their living off the land. One quote stands out: “I choose to be a plain New Hampshire farmer with an income in cash, of say a thousand.”

While in Franconia, stop by the only iron furnace still standing in New Hampshire. Located across the Gale River, the Interpretive Center offers a scale model and exhibits.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, communities provided for their residents. As towns grew, they included a general store, church or meeting house, school and a place to grind corn into meal, wheat into flour.

Today, history comes alive at the Littleton Grist Mill. Built in 1798, the site is open to the public as a working museum. You’ll see an authentic 18th-century grist mill which uses 48-inch mill stones driven by a 20-foot water wheel and wooden gearing. Be sure to pick up a package of stone-ground products – waffle and pancake mixes and flours are sold at the specialty shop and throughout the northeast.

Summer Cottages

The Gilded Age brought wealthy northern residents, in search of rest and relaxation, to New England during the summer months. Their “cottages” were actually grand estates.

One example of this affluence in the White Mountains was Lucknow, known as the historic “Castle in the Clouds.” Built by Tom and Olive Plant in 1913-1914, this 5,400-acre mountainside estate is set high in the Ossipee Mountain Range overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee.

Plant made his fortune in shoe manufacturing and retired as a millionaire. He then set his focus on creating this New Hampshire estate – eventually covering 6,300 acres. Today, guests may hike more than 85 miles of private trails, picnic or dine at the Carriage House while viewing spectacular Lake Winnipesaukee. The estate is a frequent site for weddings, motor coach tours, group travel and corporate events.

Water, Rides and Family Fun

Second and third generations of families who have visited the White Mountains return again and again. Why? Because there’s something new every year. And these families know they can capture memories to last a lifetime. Here, you can choose from a wide selection of activities. With a short drive between each site, you’ll find adventure to please each member of your group – hiking, climbing, mountain biking or spelunking for serious outdoors fans; or picnics, golf and a waterslide. Take a nostalgic train ride, a gondola or carriage ride. The kids will love to visit a fantasy theme park. There is something for everyone.

Fall’s Spectacular Scenery

It’s a known fact that Cannon Mountain is home to some of the best, most exciting skiing in the northeast during the long winter.

But listen to the natives of New Hampshire as they brag about the neverending palette of autumn colors viewed from the top of Cannon Mountain. “On a clear day, you can see forever.” Well … almost. The view on the 80-passenger aerial train takes in parts of four states and Canada.

In September and October, the world travels to New Hampshire’s doorstep to witness the leaves turn their brilliant colors. Scientists tell us this change is due to a unique blend of fall weather, variety of tree species and rugged terrain that makes for the spectacular “leaf peeping.” With cooler, shorter days, the green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. Therefore, the brown, yellow and orange become the prominent colors of poplar, oak, beech and birch leaves. Sugar trapped in the leaf as a result of warm days and cool nights produces reds and purples in maple trees.

And when, you ask, is the peak color season? No one can guess what only Mother Nature knows, but usually from the end of September through the second week in October. However, unusual weather may extend the prime color through the month of October. During this time, be sure to make reservations early. Columbus Day weekend usually brings a high volume of tourists.

Shop ’til You Drop

Passionate shoppers need look no further than the White Mountains area, where purchases are tax-free. Approximately 200 shops and stores reach across the valley to include brand-name factory outlets, and well-known stores along with high-end boutiques.

RVers will find many shopping opportunities tucked away in the region’s small towns and villages. Check out downtown Littleton – you’ll find a plethora of unique and eclectic boutiques. Bethlehem caters to antique lovers. Franconia and Sugar Hill tempt visitors with shops featuring the talented work of local artisans and craftsmen.

White Mountain Tours

Pack your camera and be ready for outstanding photo opportunities as you motor along The White Mountain Trail – a National Scenic and Cultural Byway that covers a 100-mile route.

Begin your tour at the White Mountains Attraction Visitor Center in North Woodstock, where you can pick up a calendar of events for special activities, free brochures, maps and more. Purchase a White Mountain Value Pass and you can save more than 50% on admission to 17 area attractions.

With so much to see, it’s difficult to keep your eyes on the road. Along the route, you’ll discover magnificent overlooks of picturesque valleys and mountains, covered bridges, river gorges, mysterious caves and waterfalls that cascade down hillsides.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway – the nation’s first mountain-climbing cog railway – takes passengers to the top of the Northeast’s loftiest peak. Climb aboard one of the seven authentic coal-fired steam trains for a three-hour round trip.

The New Cog Railway Ski Trains offer skiers and non-skiers alike a memorable winter adventure. You can ride up to the summit of 6,288 feet. While you’re there, check out the Old Pepperass, the world’s first mountain-climbing locomotive which huffed and puffed its way to the peak on July 3, 1869.

A visit to the White Mountain Region of New Hampshire is sure to bring families together and make memories to treasure for years to come.