New Hampshire Geography

"New Hampshire … Come for the geography!" That's not the most enticing marketing slogan, but when you step back and consider what makes New Hampshire so appealing, you realize something: The Granite State owes an incredible debt to the forces of nature that have sculpted the mountains that so many natives and visitors love to ski; our lakes, tailor-made for recreation; and the rivers that define our boundaries and provide us with an enviable port on the Atlantic Ocean.

New Hampshire sits right in the heart of the New England region, and it has all of the geographic features associated with the U.S. Northeast: sandy and rocky shorelines, meandering rivers and trout-filled streams, fertile farmlands, old-growth forests, lakes in every shape and size, rounded hills and jagged peaks. To the north and northwest, we share a border with Quebec, Canada. Maine is our eastern neighbor, Massachusetts is south, and Vermont lies to the west. Just 13 miles of the New Hampshire mainland adjoins the Atlantic in the state's southeastern Seacoast Region.

New Hampshire can even take credit for giving a name to a mountain type that’s distinctive in its geography. A "monadnock" is an isolated rocky hill that rises high above the eroded terrain that surrounds it. The term comes from our Mount Monadnock—America’s most-often-hiked mountain—in the southwestern part of the state. The native Abenaki people supplied this word for "the mountain that stands alone."

The White Mountains are New Hampshire's most dramatic geographic feature. A gift bestowed by receding Ice Age glaciers, this range spans the north-central portion of the state. At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the tallest mountain not only in New Hampshire but in the entire Northeast. Other notable peaks in the Presidential Range include Mount Adams (5,793 feet) and Mount Jefferson (5,712 feet). One of the most challenging stretches of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which begins in Georgia and ends in Maine, cuts through the White Mountains.

The headwaters of New England's longest waterway, the Connecticut River, are in New Hampshire. The Connecticut River defines the boundary line between New Hampshire and Vermont, but here's a quirky fact: The state border isn’t in the center of the river, as is usually the case. Because it traces the low-water mark on the Vermont side, the river technically belongs to New Hampshire!

New Hampshire Geography by the Numbers

Total Area: 9,282.10 square miles

Size Compared with Other States: 46th largest

Highest Elevation: Mount Washington (6,288 feet)

Lowest Elevation: Atlantic Ocean (sea level)

Number of Mountains Higher Than 4,000 Feet: 48

Largest Lake: Winnipesaukee (72 square miles)

Major Rivers: Connecticut River, Merrimack River, Androscoggin River, Saco River, Piscataqua River

Largest Federal Land Holding: White Mountain National Forest (751,000 acres)

Number of State Forests: 117

Number of State Parks: 41