Thiri San '23
White Mountains view, New Hampshire UNH daytrip

The White Mountains are a favorite New Hampshire daytrip destination for UNH students, as well as a beloved outdoor classroom for conservation biology and recreation management majors.

Have you ever heard of the White Mountains of New Hampshire? As you plan your campus visit this summer, you should learn more about this favorite Wildcat outdoor playground. Covering a quarter of the state, the White Mountains are packed with beautiful views and things to do during all of New England’s beautiful seasons. UNH students can reach the southern edge of the White Mountains in about an hour by getting on the highway near campus. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you are surrounded by mountains.

UNH students who love the outdoors – and those who just like some fresh air now and then – make the most of our proximity to the White Mountains by visiting the region for the day or the weekend. And for students in fields like conservation biology and outdoor recreation, the White Mountains are also a beloved classroom and research lab.

So, whether you want to join UNH’s Outing Club, protect endangered species, or just rent camping equipment from Hamel Rec and head north with your friends, you’ll have tons of opportunities to make the most of living this close to the mountains.

Here are some ideas to get you started envisioning your White Mountains daytrip – maybe it will even inspire you to add a short trip north to your campus visit this summer.

The White Mountain National Forest was originally home to Native American tribes. In the late 1800s, the land was heavily used for providing timber and pasture lands. Then it was bought in 1914; starting at 7,000 acres, the area has now expanded to over 800,000 acres, covering much of New Hampshire and western Maine. The mountainous region is home to many locals as well as an extensive number of tourists throughout the year. Visitors typically stay during the winter months when the mountains are covered in snow for skiing and snowboarding, or during the summer when its granite peaks provide opportunities for activities under the sun.

Places to Stay
The Mountains have over a hundred places to stay, including but not limited to hotels and motels, lodges, cabins, and Airbnbs for rent. Given that it ranges over 800,000 acres, it is not difficult to find suitable lodging across various towns such as Bartlett, Twin Mountain, Conway, Lincoln, Bretton Woods, and more. Many visitors also choose to stay in campgrounds, as the mountains are a hotspot for camping. The national forest is split into different regions; the Northern, Western, Eastern, and Southern White Mountains all have multiple areas to stay in. You can filter these areas out to find the best fit for you on this website.

From quick bites at cafes to fine dining restaurants, there is no shortage of places to eat in the White Mountains. These are some of the places UNH students return to again and again.

  • Black Mtn. Burger Co. in Lincoln, NH is known for their excellent Black Angus. As with many restaurants in the White Mountains, outdoor seating is available.
  • If you want to eat at a restaurant with an amazing view of the water, visit Walter’s Basin in Holderness, NH. They have a strong variety of food selection as well as quick and friendly service.
  • The Little Red Schoolhouse in Campton, NH also boasts amazing views; sitting on the edge of a cliff, guests can look out at treetops and mountains while having delicious meals.
  • Some more honorable mentions are Cold Mountain Café in Bethlehem, Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, and La Vista Italian in Lincoln.


  • Kancagamus Highway: The New Hampshire Route 112 highway runs through the White Mountains National Forest and is known to be one of the most scenic routes you can take in New England. Most beautiful in the fall with all the foliage, thousands of vehicles drive through here on its peak days. The “Kanc,” as locals call it, has several points for travelers to picnic, hike and swim.
  • Flume Gorge: The Flume Gorge is an 800-foot gorge accessible from the Kancagamus Highway. The area is filled with exquisite waterfalls and canyons along with a stunning overlook of the mountains. Here you will experience some of the best views in the White Mountains. To get there, you must hike along paved trails and boardwalks. By the end of it, you can grab a bite to eat and buy souvenirs at the visitor center.
  • Scenic Railroads: Another favorite thing to do in the White Mountains is take a scenic train ride through some of the area’s most breathtaking landscapes. There are a number of historic train lines that take you back in time and help you see the mountains in a whole new way.
  • Ice Castles: The Ice Castles in North Woodstock, NH are a dream-like, popular winter attraction where visitors can walk around to see dazzling lit up ice walls and structures. The massive ice sculptures are the main attraction; however, they offer tubing, sleigh rides and ice slides as well. This place is perfect for either fun family experiences or date nights. Make sure to watch the weather and bundle up, as it can get cold!

These are only a few of the possible attractions and activities out of hundreds to do during your stay in the White Mountain National Forest. To sum it up, visitors come here to camp, hike, ski, swim, eat, shop, or simply take in its breathtaking views. If you’re ever looking to get away from campus, the White Mountains are only a short drive away.

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