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Close Vacation Locations: North Woodstock, NH and the White Mountains

by on July 31, 2012

We headed to North Woodstock, New Hampshire a couple of weekends ago to work on some things we hadn’t seen yet on previous trips.  You need more than a few days to explore the area.  We were out straight for those few days, trying to make sure we got to do everything.  We were headed for a week in Maine, and had limited time.  If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it for a vacation destination, but give yourself more than three days.

We camped in the Lost River Valley Campground.  Our site was right on the bank of the Lost River.  We had a waist deep mountain stream just down the bank.  The kids loved it, and we could hear the stream running all night.

Lost River at Lost River Valley Campground
© Sharon Wilbur 2012

Clarks Trading Post is a must do.  Once you get inside, there are acrobat shows, train rides, a bear show, and for a few bucks you can buy some raw gravel and do some panning for gems.  This is fun for kids from 5 to 80.  There are rock climbing walls for the kids, and a very cool squirt-gun bumper car ride that is a blast for adults and kids alike.  You will get wet.

Bumper Squirt Guns???
© Sharon Wilbur 2012

The Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves is a great activity.  It’s quite a hike, descending 300 ft. on stairways into the gorge, and 300 ft. back up on stairways in a space of ¾ of a mile.  With a slow place, and a couple of well appreciated benches provided along the way (and my own little portable seat that we carried) it was a lot of fun.  I met some really wonderful senior women on the hike.  One was in her early 80s, and she shared stories of her visits to the area over the years.

I didn’t do any caves, but we were able to bypass them on the walkways, while the younger folks went through caves graded from A to C.  One of the more difficult was “The Lemon Squeezer,” which Krista found exceptionally trying – as she said, “You have to lay down, and pull yourself through with your arms!”   Some require some creative contortionist moves to get through.

The waterfalls are beautiful, the boulders are huge.  Signs along the path tell of a period of global warming that carved the gorges and deposited those boulders which created the caves, and most of the White Mountains’ wonders.

Lost River Gorge Falls
© Sharon Wilbur 2012

One attraction in Franconia Notch is the Basin.  The water actually carved out a basin and falls into a beautiful pool.  There is a longer walkway that rambles along the Pemi (as the locals call it) short for Pemigewasset River, with the final attraction being the basin.  Or you can park and take a short walk directly to the basin.  The water is crystal clear; in some light it takes on tints of blue as it runs over the rocks.

The Basin, Franconia Notch
© Sharon Wilbur 2012

There are other attractions in Franconia Notch, so if you have time, the Flume Trail is a beautiful gorge walkway, discovered in 1808 by a 93 year old Jess Guernsey, who found it while fishing.  The literature tells of a huge egg shaped boulder perched in the crevice back then, which fell during a landslide, and was never found.

There is a short walk through the gorge or a long one, and you can choose which to take during the walk.  It isn’t a difficult walk, and there are many natural wonders to see.

The ride through the Kancamagus Highway has impressive scenery without a lot of work.  Be prepared to stop at the turnouts to take pictures.   Please watch the signs.  The locals warn of wrecks on the hairpin turns.  Don’t ignore the signs.

We stopped several times, but the prettiest spot is Kancamagus Pass at 2,855 feet.  There is a turnoff where you will find an information plaque that details the life of a raindrop from there through several rivers in New Hampshire and beyond.

Kancamagus Pass
© Sharon Wilbur 2012

There are many attractions in the area that we haven’t been to, including some new attractions.  Alpine Adventures in the Lincoln area (right next to Woodstock) runs a Zipline tour which involves riding down a mountain on a harness connected to a cable.

Whatever you like to do, whatever time of year, the White Mountain area has several locations each with many activities that will appeal to everyone.

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