There are a few ways to travel to the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. There are hiking trails, but it’s an arduous climb, and the weather at the peak is unpredictable. Then there’s the Cog Railway, but departure times are minimal, and it takes three hours for the roundtrip experience. Finally, there’s the Mt. Washington Auto Road.
Opened on August 8, 1861, it is the “oldest man-made and continuously operating tourist attraction in North America.” Last week, they completed the sixty-year effort to fully pave the road. Paving of the road began in the 1960s but hadn’t been fully completed due to a narrow section beginning on mile 5 of the 7.6-mile road, before going back to pavement for the final portion of the drive. This portion of the road, which was less than a mile long, was made up of gravel, which provided an off-road experience on an otherwise smooth route. The disadvantage of the narrow section is that the gravel would peel during rainy weather, reducing traction for cars and trucks while driving on it, and leading to road closures. The gravel section also continuously suffered erosion, requiring a large amount of labor and fuel. While some guests were sad to see it go, it seems to be a wise decision for the popular tourist destination. You can read their official statement here.
Some auto enthusiasts may recognize the road for Travis Pastrana’s insane trips up it. In 2021, Travis Pastrana got up the 7.6-mile road in five minutes and twenty-eight seconds, which broke his previous record. In 2024, the Subaru Mountain Hillclimb will be returning to Mt. Washington Auto Road.
Image Credits: Mt. Washington Auto Road