Concord, NH – Nobody wants to drive endlessly or sit in traffic to see the fall colors of New England--not at today's fuel prices. The only thing worse might be to miss the fall colors entirely, by heading to the wrong place at the wrong time. Here are a few tips for enjoying New Hampshire's fall colors in the right place, at the right time, and by getting out of your car and into nature. New Hampshire’s fall colors are an annual topic of debate. Some say that too much sun--or is it too much rain?--will dull the colors. State officials then offer opinions to the contrary. Truth be known, it's really kind of a mystery, with Mother Nature calling all the shots.
But, as the locals say, “Those leaves gotta come down some way or the other.” Want to save time and avoid crowds – then skip those “foliage tours” touted on websites and try these tips from the locals: New Hampshire’s foliage season runs roughly from mid-September to mid-October, but this varies widely depending on weather, topography and geography. Even as early as late August, the swamp maples surrounding some ponds and lakes may turn a fiery red, and the deciduous trees of northern New Hampshire may already begin their transformation. Columbus Day Weekend is often the focal point of fall foliage excursions, but the White Mountains can tend to have earlier colors. Whatever the year, there's no need to hurry. The leaves hang around a long time. Travelers can make a full weekend of it by visiting local apple orchards or pumpkins patches--there are plenty around--and picking their own bushels of each. There are also plenty of historical landmarks and museums to capture your interest and to learn more about the beautiful scenery you'll be passing through.
TAKE IN THE VIEW FROM THE WATER
One special place to enjoy the foliage show is Lake Winnipesaukee. It's hard to see foliage while you're driving, so why not take a cruise on the M/S Mount Washington and let the captains do the driving (and save the gas). The big lake has amazing color and the juxtaposition of the water and sky can be breathtaking. The M/S Mount Washington is a 230-foot vessel offering scenic cruises during the day and upscale evening dinner and dance cruises. The Mount will offer Fall Foliage Dinner Cruises from 4:30 to 7 p.m. each Sunday through the end of October. "Mother Nature is kind enough to put the show on for us every year," said Captain Jim Morash, a veteran of the "Big Lake". "We're lucky up here on the lake where the foliage comes into the lowlands first, then you see it up in the mountains, and then comes in around the lake." When the color has gone from the mountains, it still lingers on the shores of the lake. Another water-borne way to see the foliage is in a kayak on a river or lake.
Purity Spring Resort in Madison offers a Columbus Day weekend package of kayaking down the Saco River and on Purity Lake, with experienced kayak guides. The two days of kayaking is augmented with a barbecue lunch, wine and cheese appetizers (soda for the kids), a Lobster Bake on Purity Lake and evening entertainment back at the resort. For more information: http://www.purityspring.com/packages/kayaking-foliage.php
TAKE THE TRAIN THROUGH THE TREES Climb aboard one of the region's three sightseeing trains for unique views of foliage: Hobo Scenic Railroad in Lincoln; the Conway Scenic Railroad in Conway, and the Cog Railway that chugs up Mount Washington from its base in Bretton Woods.
GET A BIRD'S EYE VIEW Take the sky ride to get a bird's eye view of fall foliage. Ski mountains in the area offer trips on their chair lifts and gondolas to the tops of their mountains, where the views can be simply spectacular. Consider the Loon Mountain Gondola in Lincoln; the Wildcat Mountain Gondola in Jackson, and the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway in Franconia.
VIEW A LITTLE INDOOR COLOR Forty minutes north of Boston is the city of Manchester and its re-born mill district where museums, restaurants, artist lofts and a minor league ballpark thrive. This spring, the Currier Museum of Art re-opened after a major renovation that included a 33,000-square-foot addition and a glass-enclosed restaurant. Its new music and art programs for the pubic and a new performance space compliment the museum's world-class collections.
SURROUNDED BY FOREST AT WATERVILLE VALLEY Head just one hour north of Manchester to Waterville Valley, park your car and forget about it while you enjoy one of the more unusual and lovely towns in northern New England. A half century ago, Nathaniel Goodrich extolled the virtues of Waterville Valley, surrounded by 700,000 acres of national forest, by writing, "Superficially it changes, as all things must. But basically it remains the same." Today, Waterville Valley is a full-featured resort area, which just happens to be surrounded by some of the most spectacular landscapes in northern New England. The adjacent White Mountain National Forest features America’s oldest network of hiking trails leading to spectacular views in all directions. Waterville's town square is lined with shops and restaurants, all reached by the covered pedestrian walkway in this pedestrian-only zone. Visitors can play a round of golf surrounded by the foliage, try a game of tennis on the town's nationally ranked courts, and boat on Corcoran's Pond just near the town square. A skateboard park may occupy the younger set, if they're not off mountain biking some of the nearby trails. What Waterville doesn't have are fast food places, stoplights and big box stores. For more information, visit www.visitwatervillevalley.com. See foliage differently. Check these resources for more tips:
WHITE MOUNTAINS REGION M/S Mount Washington Weirs Beach Boulevard Weirs Beach, New Hampshire 1-888-843-6686 www.cruisenh.com White Mountains Attractions Association 200 Kangamagus Highway North Woodstock, New Hampshire 603-745-8720 www.visitwhitemountains.com Jayne O’Connor, 603-745-8720 Purity Spring Resort Route 153 East Madison, New Hampshire 1-800-373-3754 www.purityspring.com
DARTMOUTH-LAKE SUNAPEE REGION The Rosewood Country Inn 67 Pleasant View Road Bradford, New Hampshire 1-800-938-5273 www.rosewoodcountryinn.com
LAKES REGION M/S Mount Washington, Weirs Beach 603-366-5531 The Manor On Golden Pond 31 Manor Dr. Holderness, NH 03245 www.manorongoldenpond.com firstname.lastname@example.org TF 800-545-2141 T 603-968-3348
MERRIMACK VALLEY REGION Currier Museum of Art 150 Ash Street Manchester, NH 03104 603-669-6144 www.currier.org