The White Mountain National Forest stretches across 148,000 acres from Western Maine into Eastern New Hampshire. Created as a National Forest in 1918, the area had been systematically cleared of timber which wreaked havoc on the natural environment. Enormous forest fires, damaged watersheds, and stripped mountains had led the public to demand the forest’s protection. Now, the White Mountain National Forest is a destination for year-round tourism and home to locals who couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
The Whites are home to the best skiing on the East Coast, with many of the mountains located in the North Conway area. From Alpine to Nordic skiing, there is a trail for any ability level here. The Whites aren’t just for skiers and snowboarders though, far from it. There are opportunities for sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, hiking, tubing, and winter camping. Many of the local towns, including North Conway, are full of charming inns and restaurants to enjoy when you aren’t exploring outdoors. Consider this your new winter playground.
Finally, a thaw from the winter chill. As the days grow longer (and warmer) there is more daylight to explore and play by. However, it should be noted that skiing continues in Tuckerman Ravine during the spring, sometimes as late as July (although it is usually June). As the winter snows finally begin to melt into the springs and rivers, take a hike up to a waterfall. Crawford Notch, Rocky Gorge, and Basin Falls are all spectacular sights this time of year, with the snowmelt creating rushing rivers and falls. The spring is also a great time to visit, as the winter ski crowd is gone and the summer vacationers have yet to arrive.
The question isn’t what IS there to do in the White Mountain National Forest in the summer, but rather what ISN’T there to do?! Mountain biking, hiking, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking, floating down the Saco River, visiting the ski mountains for a zipline ride or alpine slide, camping, rock climbing, fishing, boating, the list goes on! Take a scenic drive and stop in at the quaint New England towns along the way for a little shopping and lunch, or a more adventurous drive to the top of Mt. Washington. The White Mountains are a summer destination for all.
Fall is when the White Mountain National Forest puts on a spectacular show. The foliage draws leaf peepers from all over the country who are hoping to see some of the nation’s most spectacular fall foliage. Take a drive along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, one of the most beautiful roads in the Whites. The drive is 34 miles and contains plenty of pull-off spots for picnics or pictures, hiking trailheads, and natural beauty.
If you want a hands-off view of the mountains, take a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad for some of the best scenery around. Local communities also hold farmer's markets and fairs in the fall, with livestock, food, crafts, and other family-friendly activities. Try the Fryeburg or Sandwich Fair for a fun family weekend! There are orchards and farms for apple and pumpkin picking, along with local farm stands selling produce, jam, and other goodies.