The 14 Best Things About New Hampshire

adventure journal new hampshire

New Hampshire has a pretty solid argument for being the adventure capital of the East, or at least the Northeast: Between the urban centers of New York and Boston, New Hampshire’s White Mountains contain some of the best and closest all-around terrain (climbing, hiking, skiing, leaf-peeping, et cetera) for more than 12 million people.

These are some of our favorite things about the Granite State. We did not include Bode Miller, a decision you may or may not agree with.

1. Mt. Washington

Mount Washington isn’t the highest mountain in the eastern United States, but it has the biggest reputation: a destination for hiking, skiing, and a training ground for alpinism, as well as one of the deadliest mountains in the U.S. for its fickle and often quite horrible weather. Even the road to its summit is a crushing climb (7.6 miles, 4,727 feet, average grade 12 percent)-if you bike it instead of driving it. Of course, even those who drive it can buy a bumper sticker that says “I Survived the Mount Washington Auto Road.”

2. The Motto

If you only know one U.S. state’s motto, it’s probably “Live Free or Die,” used in an 1809 toast by Revolutionary War General John Stark (although he may not have made it up himself, as its French equivalent was popular during the French Revolution).

3. Tuckerman Ravine

Tucks is not only the most famous backcountry ski run in the East, it’s probably the most famous backcountry ski run in the U.S.: a spring rite of passage for anyone who skis anywhere in the Northeast and wants to earn their turns for the first time, as well as a hell of a party for people who just want to hike up and heckle, Tucks is a stout hike up and a steep ride down.

4. The White Mountains

New Hampshire is one-quarter White Mountains, the range that traces most of the state’s western border, is almost all public land, and contains 48 peaks higher than 4,000 feet, as well as what many consider the most picturesque segment of the Appalachian Trail.

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6. North Conway

As an adventure mecca, North Conway gets mentioned in the same sentence as places like Moab, Aspen, and Jackson, with hiking access to the Whites, climbing at nearby Cathedral Ledge and Whitehorse Ledge, and skiing at Cranmore, Attitash, Black Mountain, and Wildcat Mountain.

7. EMS

Okay, so Eastern Mountain Sports actually started in Massachusetts in 1967, but the company is headquartered in New Hampshire and is of course an institution in the outdoor retail (and education) space, with 68 stores and 11 outdoor adventure schools in the Northeast.

8. Rock Climbing

From the old school ethics of the multipitch trad classic Whitney-Gilman (fun fact: Whitney and Gilman didn’t use any gear besides a rope on their 1927 first ascent) to the new-er school hard sport climbing and bouldering at Rumney, New Hampshire has a lifetime of rock climbing.

9. Ice Climbing

The humidity, or more precisely, the wet winters, make New Hampshire one of the best places in the Lower 48 to climb ice, from the training ground at Frankenstein Cliff to multipitch and alpine classics like Black Dike and Greens Chasm.

10. The Appalachian Mountain Club

The AMC is one of the oldest (founded in 1876) and largest (100,000+ members) recreation and conservation organizations in the U.S., preceding the Sierra Club by 16 years.

11. Appalachian Mountain Club Huts

The idea of mountain huts made it across the ocean from the Alps to the U.S., but just barely-the AMC has eight high huts in the White Mountains, fully staffed and serving dinner and breakfast to thousands of hikers each year.

12. Old Man of the Mountain (RIP)

Although it (he?) fell down in 2003, the stone face hanging on Cannon Cliff was a symbol of New Hampshire since the 1800s, when Daniel Webster (and later Nathaniel Hawthorne) wrote about it. In 1945, it became the official state emblem, and in 2000, made it on the state’s quarter.

13. The Fall Colors

The Northeast has some of the best autumn foliage in the U.S., and the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development’s website actually has a “Foliage Tracker” where you can check to see where the leaves are going off where.

14. The Worst Weather Ever

We love to talk about bad weather in America, and the worst weather in America can be found in New Hampshire (so it’s the best, if you follow that). For 76 years, the Mount Washington Observatory held the world record for highest recorded ground wind speed: 231 mph. Multiple storm tracks meet atop Mount Washington, meaning your nice afternoon walk can turn into a battle for survival in a matter of minutes. The summit has seen lows of 50 degrees below zero and 102-below-zero windchill.

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