PINKHAM NOTCH—The Mt. Washington Auto Road will officially open to the summit this Memorial Day weekend for its 153 season. The 7.6-mile Auto Road will be open for guests to drive themselves by car, light truck or motorcycle. Guided tours are also available beginning this weekend.
Despite the heavy snow and colder than average temperatures this winter and spring, the Road Crew worked steadily throughout April to clear ice and snow in order to get the lower section of the road open by May 10.
John Gardner, Auto Road foreman since 1990 noted an unusually thick layer of ice this spring. "We weren't too surprised by the deep snow levels on the road but the ice was certainly thicker than what we're used to dealing with." Gardner continued. "We had as much as three feet of ice in places on the upper parts of the road. But other than that, it was business as usual to get the road cleared for traffic by the holiday weekend.
As recently as fifty years ago, it was considered a success if the Mt. Washington Auto Road was open to the summit by Independence Day. Photos and video showing the intricate process of clearing the Auto Road are available at www.mtwashingtonautoroad.com.
New for the 2014 season, the Mount Washington Observatory will introduce visitors to a Mount Washington winter—the peak's most remarkable season—through their all-new Extreme Mount Washington Experience. Located in the lower level of the Mt. Washington State Park Visitor Center at the summit, the interactive museum will present a compelling sampling of the "World's Worst Weather" through hands-on, high-tech exhibits for the entire family. A sneak preview of the new museum will be available this weekend while the grand opening will take place in mid June. Admission to the museum is included in the price of the Mt. Washington Auto Road toll or guided tour.
Regular pricing for the Auto Road is set at $28 for car and driver and each additional passenger is $8. Kids ages 5-12 are just $6 while children under 5 are free.
Season passes for the 2014 season are available for $150 per person providing unlimited access to the Auto Road for the passholder, vehicle and all occupants. The season pass also includes admission to the new Mt. Washington Observatory Museum at the summit as well to all three sunrise drives on June 22, July 27 and August 21.
The Mt. Washington Auto Road also offers a hiker shuttle service from the top of Mt. Washington back to the AMC Pinkham Notch Camp, the Great Gulf Trail head and the base of the Auto Road as well as one-way up trips for those hiking down. One-way up or down hiker shuttle rates are available at $30 per person.
Memorial Day weekend also marks the opening of the The Douglas A. Philbrook Red Barn Museum, adjacent to the main lodge at the base of the Auto Road. In addition to objects and memorabilia from the Auto Road’s history, you can see some of the vehicles that once made the eight mile journey to the summit including an original 1870′s Abbot-Downing Concord Coach, a 12 passenger Mountain Wagon, a 1918 Pierce-Arrow from the fleet of the 20’s, a 1938 Ford Woodie Station Wagon and a 1963 International Travelall. Admission to the museum is free of charge.
First opened in 1861, the Mt. Washington Auto Road is America’s oldest man-made attraction. At nearly eight miles long, it stretches to the summit of Mt. Washington at 6,288 feet, the highest peak in the Northeast.
The Mt. Washington Auto Road will be open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. For the latest updates on Road conditions and the operating schedule, visit www.MtWashingtonAutoRoad.com or call 446-3988.