Mount Washington, The Highest Peak In The Northeastern United States

As the wind whipped my hair in my face and the bitter chill nipped my skin, I pulled my leather jacket in tighter. Clouds enveloped me, making my line of sight difficult. It was hard to believe that just this morning I had been sitting under clear sunny skies eating a bagel and reading a magazine.

I was at the summit of Mount Washington. At 6,288 feet, it is the highest peak in the northeastern United States. Not only that, it’s also home to the Mount Washington Observatory where the “highest wind ever observed by man” was recorded. During a violent storm on April 12, 1934, the crew’s instruments measured a wind velocity of 231 miles per hour. After learning that, I felt pretty thankful to only have to be dealing with getting hair in my mouth.

There are many ways to reach the summit. For the adventurous, hiking to the top is an option. You’ll trek up Crawford Path, which was first laid out in 1819 and is said to be the oldest hiking trail in America. You can also opt to drive the Mount Washington Auto Road, which is 8 miles long and starts from the eastern side of the mountain in Pinkham Notch. Admission costs $25 per vehicle, and $8 per additional adult. For a historical journey, ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway, the world’s oldest mountain climbing cog railway that has been transporting people up the mountain since 1869.

No matter what way you choose, you’ll get encompassing mountain, forest and valley views and journey through several climate zones. At the top, you’ll be immersed in the clouds, and will be able to visit the Mount Washington Observatory Museum and the Tip-Top House, a restored historic hotel from 1853.


[Image above via Shutterstock; Gallery images via Jessie on a Journey]

Off the beaten path: Road trip to a rarely visited National Park

The big national parks are popular for a reason, but here are 10 other national parks and forests you may not have visited, and some fun activities to do while you are there. Consider one of these off-the-beaten-path parks for your summer round-trip:

Acadia National Park is a beautiful piece of the Maine coastline. Bring your alarm clock so you can wake early and hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain just before dawn. From this spot, you’ll be the first person to see the sun rise over the US!

The White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire has some of the most rugged hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Mount Washington is located here and has the highest recorded winds on the planet. Take the train to the top and check out the buildings that are literally chained down so they don’t blow away!

While the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park, few travelers leave their car. Take a few days to hike the Appalachian Trail here. It bisects the park and delineates Tennessee from North Carolina. See if you can count the 100 tree varieties found in the region.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado, has the tallest sand dunes in the nation (Star Dune is over 750 feet). Bring your old skis or snowboard and spend a day sand-boarding!

The Bridger-Teton National Forest, in Wyoming, includes the Wind River Range. Don’t forget your fishing pole or your backpack. The high alpine lakes are home to world-class trout fishing and humans rarely venture to these parts.

In southwest New Mexico, the Gila National Forest encompasses the Gila Wilderness. The Gila was the first place to receive a Wilderness designation and for good reason. The hiking is epic and varies from high alpine forest to deep desert canyons. Be respectful, but look for the abandoned cave dwellings that you can still explore!

Dinosaur National Monument is in both Colorado and Utah. This area is famous for the hundreds of dinosaur skeletons excavated here. Raft the Green River on the “Gates of Ladore” stretch. It takes you through the confluence of the Yampa and Green Rivers and into the monument. The white water is exciting and the views are spectacular.

Arches National Park, located in southern Utah, boasts the greatest concentration of natural arches in the world. Bring your running shoes to do a short trail run in Devils Garden.

Also located in southern Utah, Bryce National Park is a chimneyed deep canyon. Travel via burro to the bottom of the canyon for a unique experience you are sure to remember!

Redwood National Park, located in northern California, has the tallest trees on the planet. Either bring your bike or a convertible because you will want to look up to this humbling experience.

This summer take a road trip and explore some National Parks and Forests. It is a great way to stretch your legs and see something new in the U.S.

Travis Crooke is a writer.

New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington sees windspeed record broken

New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington has long been hailed as having the “worst weather on the planet”. The summit is regularly pounded with high levels of precipitation and snow storms are a routine occurrence every month of the year, with annual snow fall averaging over 21 feet of accumulation. The place is also well known for its high winds, and for more than six decades, it has held the record for the highest wind speed ever measured. But now that record, which has long been a source of pride for the state, has been broken.

Way back on April 12, 1934, a sustained wind speed of 231 miles per hour was recorded on Mt. Washington, and until recently, it was widely recognized as the faster ever recorded on the planet. But it has now come to light that Typhoon Olivia, which moved through Barrow Island off the coast of Australia in 1996, managed to generate winds of 253 miles per hour. The new record was confirmed last week by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a branch of the United Nations that studies global climate patterns and changing weather conditions. The Barrow Island record was uncovered largely by accident while examining data from the typhoon.

While the loss of the speed record may take a little of the luster off of the mountain, it will no doubt remain a major draw for hikers and climbers alike. Standing 6,288 feet in height, what Mt. Washington lacks in stature, it more than makes up in challenge. While the altitude and trails aren’t especially note worthy in and of themselves, that legendary weather is a constant shadow over any trek. Experienced climbers looking for the ultimate challenge should give it a go during the winter months in particular.