10 Best Scenic Drives In New Hampshire, The USA

scenic drives in new hampshire
| 5 min read

One of the first 13 states that founded the United States of America, New Hampshire has much to be proud of. On top of its rich history, this small eastern state is home to a plethora of natural wonders that are sure to make any trip there worthwhile. From Mount Washington, the tallest mountain in northeastern USA, to the White Mountain National Forest, with great slopes for skiing, New Hampshire is an all-around lovely state to visit. In fact, there are few better ways to become familiar with the cultural and natural beauty of New Hampshire than through scenic drives throughout the state that will bring you up close and personal with all it has to offer, from the comfort of your own car. Read on to find out more about the diversity of scenic drives in New Hampshire, the USA, you can embark on.

1. Mount Washington Auto Road

Mount Washington Auto Road
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Famartin used under CC BY-SA 4.0

As its name implies, Mount Washington Auto Road takes you to the summit of the great Mount Washington. Visitors can opt to drive themselves, or go on a guided tour in which a tour guide will drive you and keep you entertained and informed with stories about the history of Mount Washington and the geographical features to behold. Key features of the Mount Washington Auto Road include breathtaking views of the Presidential Mountain Range and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Great Gulf Wilderness. At the summit, visitors can even mail a postcard from the highest post office in New England to commemorate their journey!

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2. American Independence Byway

Road in Kensington, NH
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Magicpiano used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The American Independence Byway is a 21-mile (33.8-kilometre) route that takes drivers through time. This drive is rich with history as the road winds through New Hampshire’s four original towns: Exeter, Hampton Falls, Hampton, and Kensington. Travellers will be able to spot quaint New England villages, colonial architecture, and the American Independence Museum. Along the drive, you can even hop out and visit apple orchards and farmers’ markets. The drive along the American Independence Byway is serene and beautiful, offering travellers gorgeous sea views and sights of lovely flora and fauna.

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3. Colonial New Hampshire Seacoast Drive

Fort Constitution
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AlexiusHoratius used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Colonial New Hampshire Seacoast Drive takes travellers along a 40-mile (64.4-kilometre) road from the lively port city of Portsmouth to the island of New Castle, then onwards to Hampton Beach, followed by Hampton Falls, Kensington, Exeter, and finally Hampton itself. This drive is definitely for the history buffs, as each place it passes through is steeped in the history of America’s origins. Portsmouth was one of the busiest port cities in the 18th and early 19th century, while Fort Constitution in New Castle was the location of the first aggressive act of the American Revolution.

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4. Sunapee Loop

Pierce Homestead
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Midnightdreary used under CC BY-SA 4.0

This drive is about 140 miles (225 kilometres) long. From the town of Greenfield, drivers head through Antrim and Hillsborough. There, you can park your car and stretch your legs while taking a look at Franklin Pierce Homestead that was the home of America’s 14th president, Franklin Pierce. From there, drivers will pass Pillsbury State Park, which is a secluded park with ponds and wetlands, as well as a diversity of wildlife. Further along the loop, drivers will pass through New London and Henniker, which are both college towns. After passing through Hopkinton and Goffstown, drivers will be taken back to where they began in Greenfield.

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5. New Hampshire 153

New Hampshire State Route 153
Source: Photo by Flickr user Doug Kerr used under CC BY-SA 2.0

New Hampshire 153 is a 50.5-mile (81.4-kilometre) highway in eastern New Hampshire. It stretches from Farmington to Conway village and even strays into Maine between the towns of Wakefield and Effingham. Notable landmarks along New Hampshire 153 are Province Lake Country Club, the Ossipee River, Watts Wildlife Sanctuary, and Hoyts Wildlife Sanctuary. Throughout this journey, travellers will enjoy sights of breathtaking forests, peaceful lakes, and colonial towns.

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6. Currier & Ives Scenic Byway

Rowell covered bridge in Hopkinton, New Hampshire
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user grumpytimm used under CC BY 3.0

The Currier & Ives Scenic Byway takes travellers through the quaint towns of Henniker, Hopkinton, Warner, Webster, and Salisbury. Each town offers travellers their own unique history and activities to partake in. Hopkinton is home to working farms and the oldest covered railroad bridge in America, and there are a plethora of adorable speciality shops to pop into while you’re passing through the town. Warner is a scenic town that hosts the yearly famous Fall Foliage Festival, while Salisbury is famed for its natural beauty, where travellers can hike up the nearby Mount Kearsarge and Ragged Mountain or go fishing or bird-watching.

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7. White Mountain Trail

White Mountain National Forest Alpine Zone Warning Sign
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sayden used under CC BY-SA 4.0

White Mountain Trail is prized as one of the National Scenic Byways in America. It takes travellers on a magical journey through White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park, and Crawford Notch State Park. It is about 100 miles (160 kilometres) long. The White Mountains are truly magnificent, offering visitors stunning vistas of one of the most beautiful mountain ranges. It is also rich with history, as sections of the White Mountain Trail have been used by travellers for hundreds of years. Important landmarks along the White Mountain Trail include Clark’s Trading Post, with trained bears, Whale’s Tale Water Park, Indian Head Profile on Mount Pemigewasset and Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, among many others.

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8. Connecticut River Scenic Byway

NH119 East - Green Bridge Over Connecticut River (42233082560)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user formulanone used under CC BY-SA 2.0

This byway is approximately 140 miles (225 kilometres) long. It runs parallel to the Connecticut River, from West Chesterfield to Littleton. Though the gorgeous sight of the Connecticut River is undoubtedly the highlight of this drive, other notable landmarks for travellers include the Cornish-Windsor Bridge and the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.

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9. Kancamagus Highway

Best Scenic Drives In New Hampshire, The USA
Source: Photo by Flickr user Eric Kilby used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Also known as New Hampshire 112, Kancamagus Highway is one of the most scenic drives for travellers, especially during fall when the brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows come out to play. For the avid photographer, Kancamagus Highway offers plenty of photo opportunities purely because of how beautiful and awe-inspiring it is. Attractions along the Kancamagus Highway include the Albany Covered Bridge, originally built in 1858, Lower Falls Scenic Area, where you can take a break from driving and have fun in the shallow waters, and Sabbaday Falls, a series of waterfalls that only takes a bit of a hike to access.

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10. Great North Woods Drive

Great North Woods - New Hampshire
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Will leavitt used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Great North Woods Drive is about 120 miles (193 kilometres) long. It is best known for the diversity of wildlife that can be spotted during your journey, from moose to black bear to deer. It begins in the town of Gorham and brings travellers to Thirteen Mile Woods, then past Balsams Resort. From there, travellers will drive through Colebrook, which is an especially picturesque and winding road. At Stark, hop out to take some photos of the lovely covered bridge, before climbing back into the car for the final stop in the city of Berlin.

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Take a scenic trip into the past

New Hampshire gives travellers access to the history of America as well as the opportunity to take in marvellous sights of North American flora and fauna. Drives through New Hampshire allow you to immerse yourself in this natural beauty as well as learn more about the past! Make use of this list to plan your next trip to New Hampshire.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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