The Mount Washington
Auto Road

Since 1861, a spectacular, steep eight-mile scenic road that leads to the top of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast.

Drive yourself or take a 2-hour guided tour in company vans. The Mt. Washington State Park and the Mt Washington Observatory are at the summit.

We have assembled some frequently asked questions about the Mount Washington Auto Road.

How Long Does It Take To Drive Up the Mt Washington Auto Road?

Most vehicles take about 30 minutes to make the 7.6-mile ascent and about 40 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.

Be careful. It’s fun and the views are fantastic!

How Long Can You 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.

Can I Park Overnight at the Summit?

Yes. You are required to alert the attendant at the Toll House that you are going to park overnight.

How Much Does It Cost?

Car & Driver: 31
Motorcycle & Operator: $17
Adult Passenger: $9
Child (Ages 5-12): $7
Under 5 Years: FREE

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.

Also, the maximum wheelbase on any vehicle is 176 inches (This excludes many limousines) and the maximum width on any vehicle is 85 inches including mirrors (mirrors may be folded in to achieve this width).

Have There Been Deaths on the Mount Washington 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.

A motorcyclist suffered a fatal crash in 2009.

Who Owns the Mount Washington Auto Road?

The Mount Washington Auto Road is owned by the Mt Washington Summit Road Company. It is managed by Olympia Hotel Management.

Will I Need Any Special Clothing?

It is a very good idea to bring something to break the wind and to keep you warm at the summit.

The temperature can be very pleasant and summer-like at the base and feel like winter at the summit.

Are There Days During the Season When the Auto Road is Closed?

The Auto Road closes whenever weather and road conditions warrant. It may also be closed for special events.

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.

The Auto Road is part of the groomed trail system of Great Glen Trails. To use the Auto Road in winter, you need a trail pass and free heeled skis or snowshoes.

Are Motorcycles Allowed on the Mount Washington 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 the “Ride to the Sky” event.  This is the annual “motorcycles only” days in June.

How many vehicles drive up the Mount Washington Auto Road Each Year?

The Mount Washington Auto Road has become very popular.

There has been steady growth over the years. In 1935 3,100 private cars reached the summit, 6,600, in 1955,  12,800 in 1961 (the Road’s 100th anniversary year).

In recent years, more than 45,000 vehicles have driven the Auto Road each year.

How Steep Is the Mount Washington Auto Road?

The average grade of the Mt. Washington Auto Road is 12%.

The steepest section of the road, known as the Raymond Grade is 18%.

For comparison, the steepest grade allowed on a United States interstate highway is 6%. A 6% grade means that for every 100 feet of horizontal distance traveled the change in elevation is 6 feet.

Is the Auto Road Paved?

Not completely.

The Mt. Washington Auto Road is 87% tarmac and 13% hard-packed gravel. Approximately 1 mile of the road remains unpaved.

What Is the Elevation Change from Start to Finish?

The elevation at the Start Line is 1,565 feet above sea level. The elevation of the Finish Line is 6,100 feet above sea level.

The change in elevation is 4,535 feet from Start to Finish.

What Is the Elevation of Mount Washington?

At 6,288 feet above sea level Mt. Washington is the tallest mountain in the northeastern United States.

On a clear day, you can see the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York from the summit of Mt. Washington as well as Quebec Province in Canada.

You can also see the Atlantic Ocean.

A short video (4:40) showcasing a drive up
the Mount Washington Auto Road.