Is that Fog or Clouds? The Most Common Question at Mt. Washington NH

mt washington bumper stickerThey aren’t kidding when they call this New Hampshire route the “Road to the Sky.” Eight miles high at 20 mph, you have time to watch the earth descend below you and the fog and clouds envelope your car. It’s exhilarating and terrifying.

Why terrifying? Because it’s one hell of a curvy road. And sometimes you’re on the outside with only good tires and steady steering keeping you ON the mountain instead of OFF the mountain. Even with that fear factor, it’s one glorious drive!

Some folks hike up. Good for them.

Mt Washington RteClaims to Fame

  • The auto road is America’s oldest man-made attraction.
  • Mt. Washington is the tallest mountain in the northeastern US.
  • It’s the oldest hiking trail in the country.

Road Races–for the Daredevils
Every few months there’s a race to the top and back. Semi-and professional drivers zooming at obscene speeds. Complete with passing on a mountain curve. Thanks, but I’ll skip this one. I like my lunch in my tummy, where it belongs.

The Infamous Weather
First of all, you truly are in the clouds. It’s ominous and feathery at the same time. Plus you’re in fog 60% of the time.

The highest record wind was recorded in 1934 and still stands today. That speed: 231mph. And that’s why they chain the buildings to ground. Seriously.

Maximum annual snow: 566 inches. This cold stunts the 125 year-old trees, keeping them dwarf-like.

So basically it’s resort weather.worst weather in the world

Product Testing
You read that right, product testing. Given the winds and extreme cold and moisture, companies regularly send their products up here to see how they fare. Outdoor furniture to rain coats. 

One Sturdy Road
It took seven years to build the road that opened back in 1861. Since then the Army Corps of Engineers checks it routinely for safety hazards. And they haven’t found anything that needs to be improved. Craftsmanship. 

I loved this adventure. Because it was a real adventure. Testing my driving skills. The sense of accomplishment for having done it. The awe for both the natural beauty and human willpower. The respect for what nature brings to bear. And earning that bumper sticker. That was indeed a point of pride.

What drive makes you feel accomplished?

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3 Responses


You write with wonderful humor. Some comments make me laugh out loud. So, what did your mother think of your making that trip. Or have you gotten around to telling her?


Well, if she deigned to look at the detailed itinerary I provide, she would have known in advance. Besides, alls well that ends well.

[…] Mt. Washington–a glorious and empowering drive eight miles into the sky. And views even when obscured by clouds and fog. […]

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