Motorists will get to experience the Mount Washington Auto Road like never before this summer.
For the first time in its 160-year history, the popular summer attraction will be fully-paved, top-to-bottom, helping to create a smoother ride for the tens of thousands of visitors who make the journey each year to the 6,288-foot summit, the highest in all of New England.
Anybody who has ever driven the 7.6-mile Auto Road understands the nerves that certain steep or narrow sections of the drive can produce. Paving of the road, a project spearheaded to help alleviate some of that anxiety, actually started in the early-1970s and has been done piece-by-piece ever since.
Now, a half-century later, the Auto Road’s Five-Mile section has become the final section of gravel to be paved. It is the first true portion of the roadway in the subalpine (what the National Parks Service defines as “a transition zone from dense forest below to alpine tundra above treeline”). It is a section of the roadway that is not all that particularly steep, but it does cut across a section of the mountain that is relatively precipitous.