8 Best Road Trips in New Hampshire, USA

16th September 2021

New Hampshire is a mix of quaint towns and vast expanses of wilderness that make for an ideal road trip adventure with your family or friends. Home to part of the Appalachian Trail and great national parks, the state offers beautiful mountain scenery, river valleys, and lush greenery. The best road trips in New Hampshire take you to a variety of places, sights and sounds, all with vibrant fall foliage, good food and history, and a plethora of outdoor recreation activities.  

So gear up and begin your New England road trip adventure by following some of our favorite New Hampshire scenic drives.

The Best Scenic Road Trips in New Hampshire  

1 –  Three Rivers Scenic Drive

Three Rivers Scenic Drive

 

The Three Rivers Scenic Drive runs along the twists and turns of three rivers, Ellis, Peabody, and Androscoggin. The road travels on through the National Forest where you can stop and go up to a viewing platform to see the spectacular Glen Ellis Falls. 

On this route, you have the opportunity and time to make a detour to the Mount Washington Auto Road. Spiraling up to the top of Mount Washington, this road is one of the more picturesque New Hampshire scenic drives, offering magnificent panoramic views of the region.

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes 

Highlights: Glen Ellis Falls, Mount Washington, White Mountains, National Forest

Best Season: All seasons

2 – Kancamagus Highway

Kancamagus Highway

 

Leef peepers – travelers who love to see and photograph fall foliage – plan their New England road trip every year for the Kancamagus Highway which connects the towns of Conway and Lincoln.  One of the best road trips in New Hampshire, the Kancamagus Highway, or “the Kanc” as locals call it, takes you through majestic forests, and across beautiful, covered bridges. There are many hiking opportunities and campgrounds along this highway. While the fall season draws in crowds, winters are a treat when snow covers the ground and caps the mountains, making it perfect for skiing enthusiasts.

Duration: 1 hour 

Highlights: Albany Covered Bridge, Sabbaday Falls, Lower , Falls, Rocky Gorge, Swift River, Mount Kancamagus, Conway Town

Best Season: Autumn, Winter

3 – Connecticut River Scenic Byway

Connecticut River Scenic Byway

 

Among some of the best New Hampshire Road trips is another scenic byway that traces the path of the Connecticut River. This less-travelled route takes you through hilly landscapes, and covered bridges, like the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge which is the longest wooden covered bridge in the U.S.

The Byway is dotted with old-world towns you can visit, like Hanover, Charleston, and Walpole, which has interesting historic buildings. Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site is a must-see attraction on this route.

Duration: 3 hours 

Highlights: Connecticut River, Walpole, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge

Best Season: All seasons

4 – The Sunapee Loop

The Sunapee Loop

Looking to go on the perfect day trips in New Hampshire? The Sunapee Loop is another route in our list of the best road trips in New Hampshire. This route takes you on a relaxing drive around the beautiful Lake Sunapee and to the pretty village of Washington which houses one of the oldest town halls in New England. You can also explore the college towns of Henniker and New London nearby or indulge in outdoor recreation and water sports which are open all year-round. 

Duration: 30 minutes 

Highlights: Lake Sunapee, Mount Sunapee State Park, Sunapee State Beach

Best Season: All seasons

5 – White Mountain Trail

Franconia Notch State Park

The White Mountain Trail is about dramatic mountain scenery and woodland trails. One of the best scenic road trips in New Hampshire, it starts in the Franconia Notch State Park where you can take in the pristine scenery or partake in outdoor activities that include hiking, boating, fishing, and wildlife-watching. 

Be sure to add to this New Hampshire road trip itinerary a side tour to the region’s highest peak, Mount Washington. A cog railway climbs up Mount Washington where you can visit the observatory and museum at the summit making it one of best road trips in New Hampshire.

Duration: 1 hour 10 min 

Highlights: Franconia Notch State Park, Mount Washington Cog Railway, Mount Washington Observatory and Museum, Glen Village

Best Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

6 – New Hampshire 153

New Hampshire 153

New Hampshire 153 is an hour-long drive between the towns of Sanbornville and Conway. You can experience one of the best New Hampshire road trips on this short yet scenic route, with its right mix of mesmerizing fall foliage, serene lakes, farmlands, and colonial towns. Outdoor activities here include wildlife-watching at the Watts Wildlife Sanctuary, and rock-climbing at Echo Lake State Park.

Duration: 53 minutes 

Highlights: Sanbornville town, Conway town, Eaton town, Echo Lake State Park, Ossipee River, Watts Wildlife Sanctuary, 

Best Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

7 – The Natural Wonders Road Trip

Mount Washington Auto Road

This New Hampshire road trip itinerary takes you to all places magnificent and wonderful. From the Cathedral Ledge, North Conway, this road trip starts with breath-taking views of the mountains then goes on to Jackson for its beautiful waterfalls and further on to Mount Washington Auto Road. The drive up Mount Washington Auto Road is one of the best road trips in New Hampshire. This spiral road takes you to the summit of Mount Washington, where majestic panoramic views of the mountains and valleys make your journey worthwhile. 

Duration: 3 hours 20 minutes 

Highlights: Cathedral Ledge, Mount Washington Auto Road, Lincoln town, Swift River 

Best Season: All seasons

8 – Moose Alley

Moose Alley

One of the day trips in New Hampshire that guarantees proper moose sightings is a stretch of Route 3 that runs from Pittsburg to the Canadian Border and is better known as “Moose Alley”. The best time to spot moose is at dawn or dusk, but you should careful not to approach them as they can be very unpredictable. Nearby towns host an annual Moose festival in August with many fun activities, which makes Moose Alley also one of best road trips in New Hampshire.

One of the best scenic road trips in New Hampshire, Moose Alley takes you through the beautiful Great North Woods region, where you can stop at Lake Francis State Park and relax with a picnic with your family or friends or go canoeing in the lake.

Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes

Highlights: Lake Francis State Park, Connecticut River, Canaan Dam

Best Season: All seasons

These were some of the best road trips in New Hampshire. Which one are you planning to go on? Do let us know!

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Spare the trouble of planning and buckle up, because we’ve compiled the eight best road trips in New Hampshire for you to choose from! 

Spare the trouble of planning and buckle up, because we’ve compiled the eight best road trips in New Hampshire for you to choose from! 

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