Bumper Sticker
Bumper sticker.

Mt. Washington Auto Road: Famous Bumper Sticker

Field review by the editors.

Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire

It was on August 8, 1861 -- the early days of the Civil War -- that the road to the summit of New Hampshire's Mt. Washington officially opened for business.

Climbing the auto road.
Climbing the auto road.

The road wasn't built because Mt. Washington needed it, but because its backers believed that people would pay to ride up it. They did, and they still do, setting a precedent for separating tourists from their money and earning for the road the right to call itself "the oldest man-made tourist attraction in the United States."

The route has remained unchanged for over 150 years. It's steep and narrow, nearly eight miles long, with hairpin switchbacks and harrowing drop-offs. There are no guardrails and no pavement in spots, particularly above the tree line. The weather can be unpredictable, with howling winds and a temperature at the summit considerably lower than that at the base.

In its first decades the road was climbed either by foot or horse-drawn carriages. The first ascent by automobile was in 1899 and took 2 hours and 10 minutes. In 2011 a race driver reached the top in 6 minutes and 11 seconds. Your time, if you chose to attempt it, will be considerably longer because you won't be able to pass all the drivers in front of you, gingerly edging their way around the more than 100 turns in the road.

Since the 1950s, every auto that's successfully reached the 6,288 foot summit has been christened with a "This Car Climbed Mt. Washington" bumper sticker -- an icon of tourism. In honor of the road's sesquicentennial, every vehicle that showed up with that bumper sticker on August 8, 2011, got to climb the road again for free.

Mt. Washington Auto Road: Famous Bumper Sticker

Address:
Mt. Washington Auto Rd, Pinkham Notch, NH
Directions:
From US Hwy 2 in Gorham, turn south onto Hwy 16. Drive about eight miles. The entrance to the Mt. Washington Auto Road will be on the southbound side; look for the big sign.
Hours:
May-Oct., weather permitting (it can vary hourly). (Call to verify)
Phone:
603-466-3988
Admission:
$25 per car and driver
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

World's Worst Weather MuseumWorld's Worst Weather Museum, Pinkham Notch, NH - 4 mi.
Golfing MooseGolfing Moose, Gorham, NH - 7 mi.
Santa's VillageSanta's Village, Jefferson, NH - 16 mi.
In the region:
Magnetic Hill, Chartierville, PQ, Canada - 67 mi.

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December 6, 2019

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