Opening Soon!

After summer like temperatures during March, April saw a return to winter on Mt. Washington with 34” of snow and temperatures averaging well below freezing.

The Auto Road typically opens in early to mid May. Our Road Crew has been working non stop over the last three weeks trying to make that happen. This involves chained vehicles and equipment plowing, grading, ice drilling and rebuilding. State Parks and The Mt. Washington Observatory snowcats have been aiding us with removal of new snow that has fallen almost nightly.

Keep in mind that opening the road is mostly being done in severe weather such as snow, ice, heavy winds and freezing temperatures on the side of a mountain. Safety is always a concern and sometimes the Crew is brought back to the base if the weather becomes too dangerous.

Stay tuned for another update early next week. The Auto Road will open to treeline at 4200’ (2/3 of the way up) soon and to the summit once the Road above treeline is safe to travel on – and oh yeah once the weather decides to cooperate!

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  • Alan St. Pierre

    Do you have to get permission in order to climb the auto road? I would assume that the earlier in the morning you start out the better.

  • meg

    Alan, you do not need permission to climb the Auto Road. Yes, the earlier the better to give yourself plenty of time to return to the base at a decent hour and of course to enjoy the views!

  • Cornel

    I am a motorcyclist planning a May 5 and 6th weekend on Cape Cod seashore with an additional intention to drive to Mt Washington on the following Tuesday May 8th .

    Any idea as to feasibility?

  • meg

    Cornel, We hope to be open to treeline, which is half way up the Auto Road by then. It’s always a good idea to call ahead though. (603) 466-3988. Safe travels!

  • Gary

    Call before you come up and ask if motorcycles are permitted. They usually don’t allow motorcycles on the first few days after the road opens, because there is too much sand on the pavement. I’ve gone there twice to be turned away.

  • howie

    Yes, Gary is quite correct, you should always remember to mention that you’re on a bike, otherwise we assume you’re a motorist when calling about conditions. If we open this weekend, it will be to the treeline area at about 4,200′ and 4.5 miles up. Totally worth that drive even though it’s not to the summit. The Auto Road is swept and ready for all traffic including bikes to that area IF the weather cooperates and allows us to safely open at all. Always best to call the morning that you’re intending to come. Stay tuned…hope to see you all very soon!

  • Patrick

    Is it too early to predict the status by Memorial Day Weekend?

  • meg

    Patrick, we are almost always open by Memorial Day Weekend but our daily status is always dependent on weather. We will update our homepage when we open for the season. Give us a call as that weekend approaches (603) 466-3988.

  • Patrick

    I very much appreciate such a prompt response. Great site! Great blogs! Informative and well made.

  • Andy

    I am on holiday in the area and just wanted to clarify if the auto road is open today (even partly)
    Could you advise please and if not when the route might be open for access – would be a shame to miss it

  • meg

    Andy, the Auto Road is not open today. We hope to open partly this weekend if the weather cooperates. Feel free to call us for the most up to date operational status. (603) 466-3988

  • Andy

    Do you allow cars equipped with AWD to go past the treeline point?

  • meg

    Andy, the Auto Road is not open to the public, no matter the type of vehicle, beyond that point. We will be opening this Saturday, 4.5 miles up the Auto Road to about 4,200’.

  • Andy

    Thanks for your prompt reply and advice – very helpful and will assist me with planning my visit

  • Andy

    Any chance that the road will be open to the summit by Thursday, May 10?

  • Ann Junnila

    Hi Meg,
    Just wondering if the Stage Coaches are ever available for the Sunrise Journeys?

  • meg

    Hi Ann, our Stages are not available for the sunrise drives, it is drive yourself only. So worth the drive though!

  • Bob Cleaver

    Also want to know if open to top by this Thursday.

  • meg

    Bob, we will not be able to open to the top this week, we are hoping to get there by next weekend the 19th and 20th. Stay tuned or give us a call!

  • Dhruva

    Is it open today?

  • meg

    Dhruva, the road is not open today due to snow, we will be open tomorrow to treeline 4,200 about 4.5 miles up-weather permitting. Best to call us in the morning (603) 466-3988

  • Paul

    Will you be open tomorrow, May 15th? Also, how much is the difference in cost to just go to treeline, compared to the summit? Is there an extra charge for a passenger? Would the season pass cover a treeline drive too?

  • meg

    Paul, yes we plan on being open to treeline tomorrow. The cost for driving to treeline is $25 for a safe carload. The fee includes an audio tour on CD and the famous bumper sticker, there is no charge for passengers. When we open to the summit there is an $8 fee for passengers. The season pass would cover the drive to treeline as well. See you tomorrow!

  • Ed

    Myself and a group of friends are planning a motorcycle ride up this weekend (5/19), will the road be open for motorcycles? Any idea on when the road to the top will be open?

  • meg

    Ed, the Road is currently open for motorcycles to treeline about 4.5 miles up. There is a very slight chance that we may get the repairs done to the upper mountain to enable us to open to the summit this Saturday, May 19. However, it’s hard to predict this far out. We need reasonable weather to get the repairs and paving done and the forecasts are indicating that we might get that. We may not even know until Friday if we can open to the top, so give us a call that afternoon or Saturday morning to get the most updated status. As always – operations are weather dependent.

  • Dave Bonan

    i am coming that way for the first and last time either in mid july or mid august. i will be on a bicycle. is it safe to assume that i’ll be allowed to cycle up to the summit by then?

    it is a shame they don’t allow bicycles of any kind on the railway.

  • meg

    Dave, bicycles are not allowed on the road except during the two races we hold each summer-Newton’s Revenge and the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb . Because the road is so narrow, there is not enough room for both vehicles and bicycles to travel safely up the Road. And they never allowed to ride down-on race day every cyclist ride down in vehicles.

  • Mike

    How’s it looking for riding a motorcycle to the top on Saturday the 19th?

  • howie

    Mike, – … depends…. We hope to be able to fully open to the summit tomorrow. That has not been determined yet as we are still working on some repairs to the upper mountain road, but we will post here and many other places when that becomes known. The question of motorcycles is a tricky one. The stretch from 4.5 to 5.5 miles is gravel, normally a hard packed gravel. At this time of the year it can be safe for mc or it can be too soft from recent grading. It is our hope to open completely to include motorcycles, but that may not be known until tomorrow morning when we see the weather and judge how firm this newly graded gravel surface is. I know it’s frustrating not to get a firm answer but this is the reality of the Auto Road at this time of the year. I hope to see you on your bike here tomorrow! More to come as it becomes available to us. hw

  • howie

    2:15pm Friday update. We will be opening the Auto Road for private cars and guided tours to travel to the summit starting tomorrow at 8am. (weather permitting as always). We will likely be open for motorcycles by 11 am – this gives us time to get more water on the gravel section of the road as well as get some auto traffic on it to pack that surface and push the loose stones into the gravel. This should result in a firm surface on that one mile section that will be still have some loose stones on it but will be easily traveled by an experienced mc operator. Motorcyclists should call ahead tomorrow mid morning. Operating hours are 8am – 5pm through June 1, then 7:30am – 6pm through the summer. The Hiker Shuttle will not be operating until next weekend. See you soon! hw

  • Alan Solomon

    Coming from Indianapolis and plan to visit Mt. Washington on June 29. Could you give a quick description of the pros and cons of the auto road vs. the cog railway? Thanks!

  • howie

    That’s a good question! But first, a disclaimer. Many people don’t realize that that we are both privately owned companies – so it’s a bit like asking the Coke salesman what he thinks of Pepsi. So given that bias – he’s my answer. If you’re a railfan then you owe it to yourself to take a ride on the Cog, not to the exclusion of the Auto Road mind you, but the Cog is a very unique and historic attraction and train fans love it. If you’re main aim is to see the summit of Mt Washington and see the spectacular views on the way to the summit, then hands down, you should drive or take a guided tour on the Auto Road. Our 151 years of history are on display in the Douglas A. Philbrook Red Barn Museum at the base (for free), so you can get a feel for our history before or after your trip. The the decision is whether to drive yourself or take a guided tour. Both have advantages depending on what you’re looking for. Personally I like to be behind the wheel and stop at the many turnouts to enjoy the changing view as you head up. But the drive isn’t for everyone! Some people are very intimidated by the drive on our narrow mountain road that has no guardrails – others are thrilled by the very same things. Check us out on TripAdvisor if you want to see the range of emotion this attraction brings out in people. It all depends on what you’re expecting. The views from the Auto Road are more diverse since we traverse the mountain back and forth during the 8 mile trip where the Cog goes basically up one ridge to the summit on their 3 mile trip. Both of our admission prices include free admission to the Mt Washington Observatory Museum on top. There’s a dramatic difference in admission price between the Auto Road and the Cog. See our pricing page but briefly adult guided tours are $30, children $12; drive yourself for car and driver price of $25 plus $8 additional ad., $6 child 5 – 12. Cog is $62, child $39. Either way you decide to go will be enjoyable I’m sure – but more enjoyable on the Auto Road! :)

  • Joan

    I am planning a trip either sometime the weeks of June 3 or June 10. What is the weather like and will the guided auto road be open?

  • meg

    Joan, with the weather changing hourly here on Mt. Washington it’s very hard to predict a week or so out. You can check the Mt. Washington Observatory weather here as your trip gets closer: Our operations for driving yourself and guided tours are weather dependent so it’s best to call a few days from when you plan on visiting us, or even the day of if you can. Hope to see you soon!

  • Mark

    Is the AUTO ROAD still partially gravel – or is it all paved yet ?

  • meg

    Yes, there is about one mile that is still hard packed gravel. It starts just below the 5 mile.