Family Vacations: White Mountain National Forest

Each year, thousands of hikers descend on White Mountain National Forest trails during peak season.

Located in central New Hampshire, White Mountain National Forest (also known as "the Whites") attracts more visitors than Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks combined. Roughly 770,000 acres, it includes the Presidential Range, so named because its peaks are each named for an early U.S. president. Its showpiece is Mount Washington. Among the park's scenic deep mountain passes, called notches, are Pinkham, Franconia, and Crawford.

The Whites have seemingly endless trails with picturesque vistas for you to explore during all seasons. The region offers hiking, cycling, canoeing, climbing, and fishing in summer; and snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country and downhill skiing in winter.


The Appalachian Mountain Club is quite helpful for hikers. It operates a system of hikers' huts (dormitory lodges) in the Whites, chief of which is their Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

The towns and villages in the area contain plenty of other attractions for families, including the Conway Scenic Railroad, the New England Ski Museum, Story Land, Santa's Village, and a number of water parks.


White Mountain National Forest Visitor Information

Address: 719 N. Main St., Laconia, NH

Telephone: 603/528-8721


Hours of Operation: Dawn - Dusk

Admission: $3


To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • New Hampshire Scenic Drives: New Hampshire scenic drives roll through the state's ocean shorelines and mountain ranges.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.



Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations in North America and Tropical Family Vacations.