New Hampshire Scenic Drives: Kancamagus Scenic Byway

Highlights of Kancamagus Scenic Byway

Fall foliage is lush along the Kankamagus Scenic Byway.
Fall foliage is lush along the Kankamagus Scenic Byway.

The Kancamagus Scenic Byway is blessed with some of the most breathtaking scenery in New Hampshire. Located in the White Mountains National Park, the byway is flanked by the White Mountains. Because the byway is surrounded by a mixed forest of coniferous and deciduous hardwoods, it comes alive with color every fall. Locals and tourists all come to the area to see the rare mix of brilliant fall color against the majestic green of evergreen stands. The Kancamagus Scenic Byway is well known for providing some of the most beautiful vistas in the country.

Aside from the incredible scenery of the White Mountains National Forest, this itinerary highlights things to see and do for the entire family along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway.

Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves: Beginning in the town of North Woodstock, the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves invites visitors to, indeed, find the Lost River, as it seems to play hide-and-seek, meandering in and out of the granite outcroppings of Kinsman Notch. Boardwalks give easy access into most areas, or slightly more strenuous trails are available to lead adventurers into caves, as well as along the gorge and into the Nature Garden at the end of the self-guided tour. An upper boardwalk is wheelchair accessible.

Clark's Trading Post: Clark's Trading Post at the western edge of the Kancamagus Scenic Byway near Lincoln isn't quite what the fur traders of frontier days would recognize, but it has got a history and tradition all its own and is certainly a must-see along the byway. Run by the Clark family as a roadside attraction since 1928, highlights of Clark's Trading Post include the trained black bear show, the Seiranian Family Circus, bumper boats, a climbing wall, several historical displays and museums, and the White Mountain Central Railroad.

Loon Mountain: Just east of Lincoln, Loon Mountain adventures await. Gondola rides to the summit give a bird's-eye view of the entire area and surrounding mountains. Once at the summit more adventures begin, including exploring glacial caves, hiking an interpreted nature trail, visiting with local artisans as they create their wares, and climbing a four-story observation tower to behold some of the most sublime scenery you will ever see.

Passaconaway Historic Site: The early days of the mountain lifestyle can be studied at the Russell-Colbath House just 12 miles west of Conway at the Passaconaway Historic Site. Built in the early 1800s, it is the area's only remaining 19th-century homestead. Furnished as it would have been in the early days, the home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The U.S. Forest Service also has an information center located here, and the Rail 'n' River Hike is an easy half-mile trail that begins at the historic home.

Rocky Gorge Scenic Area and Lovequist Loop Trail: Three miles east of the Passaconaway Historic Site is Rocky Gorge Scenic Area and Lovequist Loop Trail. The superb scenic quality of Rocky Gorge has been preserved ever since its designation as a National Scenic Area in 1937. An impressive waterfall, the narrow gorge, and an easy walking trail around Falls Pond make this the perfect place to relax and enjoy the natural serenity for a bit before continuing on.

Conway: The picturesque village of Conway is home of the Conway Historical Society, headquartered in the Eastman Lord House, the 1818 residence of a Conway mill owner and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Seventeen rooms are open to the public with furnishings ranging from 1818 through 1945. Also, you can pick up a map of the walking tour of the historic sites of Conway here, or drop by the Conway Public Library at 15 Main Street, which is one of the interesting stops on the tour.

Majestic Theater: At 36 Main Street in Conway is the 400-seat Majestic Theater built in 1936. The Art Deco design along with the original velvet stage curtain give a sense of the Golden Age of Hollywood. This combines with current state of the art technology such as Schneider lenses and the only eight-channel Sony digital sound system in northern New England. Though the theater is quite historic in ambiance, current Hollywood hits grace the giant screen and provide a fitting evening's end to a day on the Kancamagus Scenic Byway.

This Kancamagus Scenic Byway cuts through the rugged heart of the White Mountains National Forest to open up to soothing waterfalls, wild flowered hills, fishing holes and hiking hot spots. Explore all that New Hampshire nature has to offer on this scenic byway.

Find more useful information related to New Hampshire's Kancamagus Scenic Byway:

  • New Hampshire Scenic Drives: Kancamagus Scenic Byway is just one of the scenic byways in New Hampshire. Check out the others.
  • Lincoln: Find out what there is to do in this city along Kancamagus Scenic Byway.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond New Hampshire? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.