Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Mount Washington Auto Road. If you don’t find what you are looking for, please send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
• How long does it take to drive up the Auto Road?
• How long can we stay at the summit?
• Can I hike to the summit of Mount Washington and get a ride down the Auto Road?
• Where can I get weather information for Mount Washington?
• What vehicle restrictions should I be aware of?
• Do you take reservations for Guided Tours?
• What is the schedule for Guided Tours?
• Why are Auto Road vans called Stages?
• Can I take an ATV up the Auto Road?
• Can I ride a bicycle on the Auto Road?
• Are motorcycles allowed on the Auto Road?
• Where can I get information about hiking Mount Washington?
• Is there lodging near the Mount Washington Auto Road?
• Is the Auto Road open in the winter?
• Can I park on the Auto Road and hike around?
• Can I park on the summit overnight and hike to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut?
• Locked In?
• Can I bring my pet up the Auto Road?
• Are there days during the summer/fall season when the Auto Road is closed?
• Be honest, how many people have died riding on the Auto Road?
• What are your GPS coordinates?
Most vehicles take about 30 minutes to make the 7.6 mile ascent and from 30 to 45 minutes to come down depending on traffic, weather conditions and whether or not you need to stop to cool your brakes. The Auto Road is a steep, narrow mountain road without guardrails. The average grade is 12%. As the sign at the base of the Road states – “If you have a fear of heights, you may not appreciate this driving experience”. People not wanting to drive themselves can take a guided tour.
HOW LONG CAN WE STAY AT THE SUMMIT?
If you drive your own vehicle, you can stop as many times as you like using the many turn-outs provided, and spend as much time as you like on the summit. All traffic must start down the mountain 45 minutes after the official closing time at the base.
CAN I HIKE TO THE SUMMIT OF MOUNT WASHINGTON AND GET A RIDE DOWN THE AUTO ROAD?
It depends! The Hiker Shuttle operates from the summit weather permitting on a limited, unscheduled, first-come-first-served basis. Tickets may be purchased on the top at the Summit Stage Office. Because of the difficulty in estimating one’s hiking time and the unpredictable nature of Mount Washington’s weather, reservations cannot be accepted, and tickets cannot be purchased in advance. We have sold out as early as 2 pm! There can be no guarantee of a ride down from the summit of Mt Washington. If the weather turns bad during your hike to the summit, for your own safety you should turn back. The Hiker Shuttle runs from approximately 11:00am to 4:00 pm daily, weather permitting. Shuttle price includes transportation to the base of the Auto Road, AMC Pinkham Notch Camp, or Great Gulf Trailhead. The sale of two adult tickets initiates a one-hour waiting period after which time the shuttle will leave whether it is full or not. Large packs or dogs that occupy a seat may be charged as child passengers. (Dogs are not allowed on our round trip guided tours.) Click here for rates. Click here before hiking!
WHERE CAN I GET THE WEATHER INFORMATION FOR MOUNT WASHINGTON?
Please view our Weather page. The Mount Washington Observatory is the authority on weather on the mountain and has a great website filled with an abundance of weather information about Mount Washington and the area. Please consider joining the non-profit Observatory as a member – lots of benefits and you’ll be supporting a great, historic Mt. Washington institution!
WHAT VEHICLE RESTRICTIONS SHOULD I BE AWARE OF?
Safety considerations dictate that certain vehicles with full passenger loads or heavily loaded with luggage cannot be permitted on the Auto Road. Also the maximum wheelbase on any vehicle is 161 inches (This excludes many club cab pickups and limousines) and the maximum width on any vehicle is 85 inches including mirrors (mirrors may be folded in to achieve this width). Click here for vehicle limits.
DO YOU TAKE RESERVATIONS FOR GUIDED TOURS?
Yes. Booking online can actually save you $5 per person. Please note the restrictions however. With 2-Hour Tours, only the 9am tours can be booked on-line with 24 hours in advance. 3-Hour Guided Adventure Tours can also be booked online 24 hours in advance. Space is available on a first come, first served basis. Click here for more information.
WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR 2-HOUR GUIDED TOURS?
Tours are generally available from 8:30 am until 5 pm with shorter hours in spring and fall. "Stages" run on a first come, first served basis and reservations are only accepted except as noted above. We make every effort to provide our guests with a tour as soon as possible. Departures are usually within 30 minutes of purchasing your tickets, however, on very busy days you can expect the wait to be longer or even to sell out. Mornings tend to be less busy. Please click here for more information.
WHY ARE THE AUTO ROAD VANS CALLED "STAGES"?
Before there were cars (and vans), visitors to the Auto Road traveled in horse drawn stages. That’s how we have been referring to them ever since. Please click here for more history.
CAN I TAKE AN ATV UP THE AUTO ROAD?
The Mount Washington Auto Road is closed to individual ATVs. Due to the aggressive nature of the tires on these vehicles the gravel portion of the Auto Road experience a much higher than normal maintenance need when ATVs are present. We do welcome well-organized ATV groups and clubs who reserve with us in advance. Group rides have a 35 vehicle minimum. Please click here for ATV restrictions and group information.
CAN I RIDE A BICYCLE ON THE AUTO ROAD?
Because of vehicle traffic on the narrow Auto Road, riding bicycles is not allowed. The only time bikes are allowed is during our two bike races, Newton’s Revenge in July and the Mount Washington Bicycle Hillclimb in August.
ARE MOTORCYCLES ALLOWED ON THE AUTO ROAD?
Yes, and as with any vehicle operations, it is weather and conditions permitting. High winds, wet conditions and other safety considerations can close the Auto Road to motorcycles. Riders may want to join us for the “Ride to the Sky,” our annual “motorcycles only” days in June.
WHERE CAN I GET INFORMATION ABOUT HIKING MOUNT WASHINGTON?
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) maintains many trails in the White Mountain National Forest and operate a visitor center just down the road in Pinkham Notch. Along with advice and trail information, AMC offers a number of maps and guidebooks. For more information call 603-466-2721 or visit www.outdoors.org.
IS THERE LODGING NEAR THE MOUNT WASHINGTON AUTO ROAD?
Yes. Please visit our Lodging Partner page.
IS THE MOUNT WASHINGTON AUTO ROAD OPEN IN THE WINTER?
The Auto Road is closed to private vehicles during the winter. However, the SnowCoach operates from December through March. Please click here for more information.
CAN I PARK ON THE AUTO ROAD AND HIKE?
Yes, but please make sure your vehicle is parked in one of the many turnouts along the Auto Road and is not blocking traffic. The Auto Road is narrow in spots and cannot accommodate parked cars. Also, be sure to check with the Toll House about the gate-closing schedule, so you don’t get locked in.
CAN I PARK ON THE SUMMIT OVERNIGHT AND HIKE TO THE LAKES OF THE CLOUDS HUT?
Yes. You are required to alert the attendant at the Toll House that you are going to park overnight.
COULD I GET LOCKED BEHIND THE GATE?
It is possible. We lock the gate at the end of our business day. The time varies during the year so make sure you check with the Toll House if you are planning a long day. We don’t recommend arriving back at the base of the Auto Road to a locked gate.
CAN I BRING MY PET UP THE MOUNT WASHINGTON AUTO ROAD?
If you are driving your own vehicle, you may bring your pets with you. However, they must be on a leash whenever they are out of your vehicle. Pets are not allowed inside the Sherman Adams State Park Building. Pets are not allowed on our guided tours.
ARE THERE DAYS DURING THE SEASON WHEN THE AUTO ROAD IS CLOSED?
BE HONEST, HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE DIED RIDING ON THE AUTO ROAD?
Over 150 years, there have been three fatalities on the Auto Road. In 1880, a stage overturned (in the hands of a drunk driver), and a passenger was killed. In 1984, a vehicle experienced brake failure about a mile up the road and was unable to make it down safely. Most recently, a motorcyclist suffered a fatal crash in 2009.
WHAT ARE YOUR GPS COORDINATES?
GPS coordinates are: 44.28850 Lat., -71.22580 Long.