Frequently Asked Questions
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HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DRIVE UP THE AUTO ROAD?
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.
DO YOU TAKE CREDIT CARDS?
Yes, we take all major credit cards and debit cards. Cash too of course! We do not accept personal checks.
WILL DRIVING THE AUTO ROAD HURT MY VEHICLE?
No, you'll drive up in your normal gear ("D"), and down in your lowest gear ("1", "L" or "L1"). Driving down in low gear will allow your engine to help with the braking of the vehicle. When using your brakes, don’t “ride” your brakes unnecessarily. A pumping action of the foot pedal allows the brakes to run cooler than does a steady pressure. If your brakes overheat, there will be many turnouts along the road to stop and cool them.
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, and continue to the base. You can not camp overnight in the NH State Park.
IS THE ALPINE ZONE ABOVE TREELINE FRAGILE?
Yes, as you proceed up the mountain, you’ll be entering the alpine zone, an area of special attraction which needs special protection. If you exit your car, please do not walk on any vegetation or move any rocks. Vegetatation should be viewed from a distance. Enjoy the beauty of the mountains above treeline, and help us preserve it.
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. Visit our Hiker Shuttle page for more details. There is no hiking allowed on the Auto Road in winter.
WHERE CAN I GET THE WEATHER INFORMATION FOR MOUNT WASHINGTON?
The Mount Washington Observatory is the authority on weather on the mountain. You can also visit our Road Status and Weather page. Consider joining the non-profit Observatory as a member – lots of benefits and you’ll support a great, historic Mt. Washington institution!
ARE THERE VEHICLE RESTRICTIONS?
Safety considerations dictate that certain vehicles with full passenger loads or heavily loaded with luggage cannot be permitted on the Auto Road. Click here for vehicle and weight limits.
DO YOU TAKE RESERVATIONS FOR GUIDED TOURS?
Yes! Click here for more information.
WHY ARE THE AUTO ROAD VANS CALLED "STAGES"?
Before there were cars (and vans), visitors to the Carriage Road, as it used to be called, 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?
Please visit our ATV/UTV page for information on ATV/UTV usage on the road.
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 bike race fund raiser for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center - The Mount Washington Auto Road 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.
IS THERE LODGING NEAR THE MOUNT WASHINGTON AUTO ROAD?
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. The Auto Road is part of the groomed trail system of Great Glen Trails in winter; to use the Auto Road in winter, you need a trail pass and free-heeled skis or snowshoes.
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?
No. You can not park your vehicle on the summit overnight as there is no camping nor accommodations at the summit or vicinity.
COULD I GET LOCKED BEHIND THE GATE?
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.
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 more than150 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. And a motorcyclist suffered a fatal crash in 2009.