The changing color of the leaves brings people to the White Mountains from all over the country. The most popular way to "leaf peep" is to hop in the car and explore a scenic byway or scenic vista. If you're looking to avoid some of the crowds and gain a new perspective while viewing the foliage, here are 7 unique ways to enjoy the beauty of the season.
Plan your trip to perfection! Remember to review the operating dates and schedule for each Major Attraction, as well as other stops along the way, prior to arriving in the White Mountains.
Ride To the Top of a Mountain
Mount Washington Auto Road (Gorham, NH): Drive yourself or take a guided tour to the summit of Mount Washington on the historic Mount Washington Auto Road. Built in 1861, it is America’s oldest man-made attraction. Take your time as you head up the mountain to stop at the many overlooks along the way.
Loon Mountain Resort Gondola (Lincoln, NH): Soak in the mountain views and fall foliage as you ride New Hampshire’s longest gondola to the top of Loon’s 2,733 foot summit. Experience 360 ° views from the observation tower and explore the prehistoric glacial caves.
Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway (Franconia, NH): This multi-passenger cable car brings you to the 4,080-foot summit of Cannon Mountain on a 7-minute scenic ride. On a clear day, you can see the mountains from four states and even into Canada, along with the stunning reds, oranges, and yellows that surround you. At the summit, walk the Rim Trail and grab a quick snack or beer at the Café 4,080’.
Scenic Chairlift at Cranmore Mountain Resort (North Conway, NH): Ride the scenic chairlift to the Summit Meister Hut and enjoy a bite to eat or a beer tasting while experiencing the foliage views of Mount Washington Valley, the Moats, and the Presidential Range. Walk around the summit on one of several trails before taking the chairlift down the mountain.
Conway Scenic Railroad (North Conway, NH): Experience the scenic wonder of foliage in the Mount Washington Valley and through Crawford Notch. The Conway Scenic offers a variety of excursions for you to enjoy a ride on the rails including Conway Valley Train, the Bartlett-Sawyer Excursion Train, and the Mountaineer Train through Crawford Notch.
The Hobo Railroad (Lincoln, NH): Surround yourself with the rich color of the fall foliage on a ride with the Hobo Railroad. Each excursion is 1 hour and 20 minutes and rides adjacent to the Pemigewasset River. Bring a picnic lunch or purchase a snack on board.
Mount Washington Cog Railway (Marshfield Station, NH): Take a trip of a lifetime to the summit of Mount Washington on the "Railway to the Moon". Gain a bird’s eye view of the breathtaking scenery and foliage while on top of the Northeast’s highest peak. At the summit, check out the visitor center and museum and grab a bite to eat at the summit building.
Soar Through the Foliage
Alpine Adventures (Lincoln, NH): Feel the crisp White Mountain air on your face as you zip through a canopy of beautiful fall foliage atop Barron Mountain. Your experienced guides drive you to the base of the zip course in a Swiss army transport vehicle called a Pinzgauer, and then your treetop adventure begins.
Bretton Woods Canopy Tour-Bretton Woods (Bretton Woods, NH): Located on the slopes of Bretton Woods Ski Area, this canopy tour brings you through multiple treetop zip lines, sky bridges, and towering platforms, where you can view the foliage, take in amazing views of Mount Washington, and get a lesson on the flora and fauna of the White Mountains.
Gunstock Mountain Resort (Gilford, NH): Surround yourself with foliage views of beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee…New Hampshire’s largest lake. One of the state’s longest zip canopy tours, you’ll glide over 1.6 miles from peak to peak, and peak to base. This is an exhilarating way to spend a fall day.
A Bird's Eye Perspective
Vertical Ventures Aviation (Whitefield, NH): Vertical Ventures Aviation offers stunning fall foliage tours of the White Mountains including the Presidential Range and some of the iconic White Mountains attractions, such as the Cog Railway and Mount Washington. Soar above Franconia Notch and the Flume Gorge and witness these sites like you’ve never seen them before. A once in a lifetime joyride!
Experience Squam Private Boating Experiences (Holderness, NH): Take a scenic, private Fall Foliage Tour of Squam Lake with Experience Squam. Along with the most beautiful foliage, you will often see groups of loons gathering and migratory birds stopping to rest along their journey south. Bald eagles have been spotted regularly as well as mergansers, blue heron and cormorants. Tour historic Church Island, stroll along the Chamberlin Reynolds boarded swamp walk or see sights from the movie On Golden Pond.
The M/S Mount Washington (Laconia, NH): Experience some of New Hampshire’s most stunning foliage from the Lakes Region, with the backdrop of mountain ranges and quaint lake towns. Explore Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire, aboard this expansive cruise ship. Not only do they offer daily scenic cruises, they also offer Fall Foliage Dinner Cruises on Sundays through October.
Squam Lake Cruises at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center (Holderness, NH): Enjoy an informative and scenic pontoon boat ride on Squam Lake. Your knowledgeable guide will take you around Squam where you will see loons, learn about this historical and ecological aspects of crystal clear Squam Lake, and view the incredible foliage that this part of the region offers. Cozy under a blanket, grab a pair of binoculars, and soak in the scenery.
North Country Kayak (Bethlehem, NH): Explore hidden river and lake gems in the heart of the White Mountains while enjoying some of the best foliage away from the crowds. Your guide will take you on calm waters so your foliage paddle will be both relaxing and beautiful.
DirtVentures (Lincoln, NH): Looking for an exciting way to get outside, see foliage, and tour the back roads of the White Mountains. Don’t mind the dirt…it’s all part of the fun! DirtVentures offers tours along the Ammonoosuc Rail Trail as well as the Ride the Wilds Trail system in Northern New Hampshire. An exciting adventure
Northeast Snowmobile & ATV Rentals, Polaris Premium Adventures (Gorham, NH): Bring out your adventurous side while touring with Northeast Snowmobile & ATV Rentals. Take a guided or self-guided tour and experience incredible views and foliage from Coos County. Access the Ride the Wilds Trail system and the trails in Jericho State Park.
Side x Side Tours with Alpine Adventures: Take the wheel of your own foliage adventure as you take a guided tour on one of Alpine's Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000's. Explore the trail system on 300-acre Barron Mountain while soaking in the foliage views.
The White Mountains region's newest scenic adventure is rail bikes. Due to New Hampshire's rich railroad history, we are blessed with miles of incredible tracks in some of the scenic parts of the state. Enjoy the beauty and history of the Lakes Region with the Hobo & Winnipesaukee Railroad's Rail Bike Adventures. Each trip begins and ends at the historic Laconia Railroad Station and the tour takes you along the Scenic Winnipesaukee River and Lake Winnipesaukee where you will be surrounded by the beautiful fall colors of the Lakes Region. Plan a detour as you head up to the White Mountains, or back home, to Scenic RailRiders in Concord, NH. Enjoy foliage views along the Merrimack River as a special date, or with friends or a family of four. There are points along to way to stop, stretch, and take in the views.
Now that you have some unique adventure ideas in your arsenal, it's time to plan the rest of your trip. What about picking a place to stay in the White Mountains or a great place to dine? We'd certainly recommending adding another Attraction or two, monitoring our foliage tracker, and checking out our fall itineraries for some extra ideas! See you here soon, leaf peepers.