Fall Do's and Don'ts
Wondering what to do in the White Mountains during fall? We find that the best way to plan a trip is to keep in mind the Do's and the Don'ts. From doing your research ahead of time (this website is a great resource) to not driving just the Kancamagus Highway (we have so many scenic roads off the beaten path), take this rundown on the Fall Do's and Don'ts as your cheat sheet to a fantastic foliage season.
DO Your Research
The White Mountains region of New Hampshire is filled with opportunities for fun! While it might be more your style to see where the wind takes you, we'd recommend doing your research before you hit the road this fall; after all, this season is one of our busiest times of year.
Some good things to research: the average temperatures and forecast (so you can pack seasonally appropriate clothing and footwear), the 10 Essentials and Hiking Tips (if you plan on hitting the trail during your visit), top attractions to visit (as well as their operating hours), the best trip ideas for the White Mountains, and which lodging options are the best fit for you and your crew (tip: always arrive with a reservation).
You'll find that a little bit of research and planning ahead will make your stay a veritable breeze.
DO Drive and Park Sensibly
During the fall season, we've seen it all - cars parked in the middle of the highway on Franconia Notch, cars stuck in backroads ditches due to a hasty, foliage-fueled pull off, and cars pulled over for driving way too fast on the way to a peak foliage destination. We urge you always, but particularly now, to drive and park sensibly. The colorful leaves of fall can be found throughout the White Mountains, so only pull off the road when it makes to do so, and please enjoy your drive safely along the way.
DO Treat Yourself
Apple cider donuts. Pumpkin spice lattes. A big bag of popcorn from a local fair. During autumn, we are all about the "treat yourself" mindset. P.S. Our local shops are the perfect spots to peruse for a great (tax-free!) souvenir.
DO Ask Questions
Once you're here in the White Mountains, don't be shy! Do ask questions. Your fellow visitors might have a quick tip for where to visit next, and the friendly faces you'll find at our visitor centers will certainly be able to assist with any queries that come to mind.
DO Enjoy the View
Lakeside scenery punctuated by punchy red leaves. Mountainsides peppered with all the warm tones to right home about. Colorful tunnels of leaves to tour your car through. Waterfalls glimmering with freshly fallen leaves – this time of year, everywhere you look there is a beautiful, memorable view. Our advice? Take to the scenic pull offs and designated parking lots so you can stop safely and enjoy these once-a-year views.
DON'T Park Just Anywhere
While the White Mountains might look like an outdoors version of Disneyworld during the fall, don't let all of that wonderment distract you from the fact that all of our roads are very real and very well traveled.
Don't park haphazardly and stand in the middle of the road to get that perfect picture – you never know when a distracted driver in a hurry might cross your path. Also? While it might be tempting to pull just partway off the road and wait for a space to open up in a nearby parking lot, remember that every car coming up the road behind you will have to stop or pull into the oncoming lane to avoid your car. Help maintain the flow of traffic and only park where it truly makes sense to do so.
DON'T Forget to Leave No Trace
Our region is known for its breathtaking beauty, and we need your help to keep it that way! Have you heard the classic adage "take only pictures, leave only footprints"? Bring that mentality with you throughout your travels.
We recommend toting a small trash bag and gloves with you everywhere you go - you can tuck away your own items to be thrown out, and also do a little bit of gentle litter pick up while you are at it. Once you've found a proper waste receptacle, deposit your trash there rather than dropping the bag in a parking lot or at a trailhead. The same goes for doggie bags too!
Also? Don't remove or disturb the natural features found along the paths, trails, and roadsides in our region. Instead, leave them for all to enjoy!
DON'T Arrive Without a Reservation
Fall is one of the busiest times of the year in the White Mountains. We strongly suggest you book your place to stay and your must-do activities well in advance of your trip. It is not uncommon for our hotels, motels, and campgrounds to be completely booked during peak foliage weekends, and we'd hate for you not to have a place to stay! Also, some activities and attractions are only available on the weekends, which can make getting even one last minute ticket a real challenge.
DON'T Drive Just the Kanc
The 34.5-mile Kancamagus Highway (also called "the Kanc") is a once in a lifetime scenic drive stretching all the way from Lincoln, NH to Conway, NH. There are so many spots to park and explore along the Kanc, and viewpoints around every corner....but the same can be said of many roads in the White Mountains! Take the road less traveled and tread far off the beaten path – you'll be delighted by the decidedly more peaceful driving (and might even be able to brag about skipping the traffic jams found along the Kanc during peak foliage season).
DON'T Forget to Pack Your Patience
We don't want to sound like a broken record, but during the fall (and especially so on weekends), we experience some of our highest visitation.
What does that mean for our visitors? You might have to sit in traffic for a bit, wait to get to the front of the line at a visitor center help desk, or pass the time while until a table opens up at your restaurant of choice.
Remember to pack your patience and treat whoever you encounter with kindness! Our front desk staff, law enforcement officers, waitstaff, and attraction attendants are all working their hardest this season to make sure your fall trip to the White Mountains is truly amazing.