Mt. Washington Auto Road Tour – the long and winding road!

9/4/2022 The Weather Channel has been featuring this mountain weather for years and I was curious about it. Apparently, Mt. Washington is known for the worst weather on earth, with three weather confluences that meet at the summit. Mt. Washington is the highest mountain in New Hampshire at 6288 ft. and is located in the Mount Washington State Park. It is also part of the Appalachian Trail that stretches 56 miles in New Hampshire.
One of the better choices I’ve made this summer was to book a reservation with the Mt. Washington Auto Road Tour Company. The auto tour made the most sense to me and at $40 for a couple of hours, I thought it was a good deal. It was a long drive and getting dark by the time I found a place to park for the night at the AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. A friendly worker pointed me to the far parking lot by the maintenance area. It started raining and I spent a cozy night in the van.
It was still raining the next morning and I was the only one to sign up for the 9am tour. Hans was my guide and I got to sit in front. He had to give his talk and apologized for sounding like a grade school teacher. Hans used to be a photographer for OUTSIDE magazine and it was a good time listening to his stories.
– Mt. Washington auto road is a private road
– a toll for all who enter
– private vehicles are allowed (if you dare)
– the Cog Railway train also goes up there
– many buildings at the summit and a huge weather station
– the visitor building has shops, café, a post office with its own zip code, and museum that tells the story about the 231 mph winds recorded in 1934. Very cool exhibits.
– the observation deck was closed, but Hans pointed out the giant X where the TV people have to stand so they don’t get blown away.
– interesting foliage that only grows at the top of the mountain. Three different climate zones (this was the science teacher stuff).
– named after General George Washington before he became president. Part of the Presidential Range. (The locals call it Georgie).
– strange “folded” rock formations.
– lots of people get lost and die because hikers make cairns for fun and the workers have to knock them down almost daily. One man died 25 ft. from the trail because he followed the wrong cairn!
– there are all kinds of weird races here, from running backwards, to go carts, etc.

It was raining and quite foggy, but Hans said that it was a perfect day to experience the weather. Though it was warm, the 50 mph gusty winds made it a lot cooler (almost like home living off of Lake Michigan). It was a slow drive around narrow, winding curves with no guard rails. And it’s the only road that people can take to get to work. Hans clocked the fastest drive at a half an hour. Once at the summit, I had to hold his hand to keep from sliding on the rock where the summit sign was to take my picture. YAY, I made it!! Another item to check of my bucket list! I spent an hour wandering around and enjoyed the museum. I received a post card to mail and posted it there.
On the way down, the weather started to clear up and we stopped several times along the road to take pictures. Hans was nice enough to take some for me and I was thankful to have him as a guide. Our tour was 3 hours instead of two, but I had a lot of fun. By the time we got back to the store, the sun was coming out and the sky was turning blue again. I would love to take the tour again when the weather was better, but timing is a little tight right now. Thanks Hans, you’re a great guide!
Note: I found out the next day that a Jeep started on fire the day before my tour, and set another car on fire, too! I would not drive a car up there if I were you. Just take the tour and be happy and safe!

Don’t die!

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