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Fall Foliage Road Trip

New Hampshire's Top Spots for Seeing Fall Colors

This fall, travel photographer Kelsey Johnson (heykelseyj) explored across New Hampshire chasing and photographing brilliant fall colors! She’s compiled all of her favorite leaf-peeping spots around the state into one ultimate road trip itinerary.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know in order to plan your own New Hampshire autumn adventure!

How to Get There

Fly into either Manchester-Boston Regional Airport - your closest option - or Boston Logan International Airport, which is less than an hour away from the New Hampshire border. Rent a car for your trip as many leaf-peeping locations are fairly rural.

Book your accommodations as early as possible before prices start to go up. However, you can also car camp, which is a great option if you're ok with some chilly nights (temps can drop down into the 30's). There are quite a few campgrounds around the state parks, and you can also find free campsites online, using sites like Free Campsites or iOverlander.

When it comes to chasing fall colors, timing is everything. Exactly when fall colors "peak" (aka are at their most colorful) changes a bit each year, but the approximate time frame for New Hampshire is almost always early to mid October. Be sure to keep checking Visit New Hampshire's Foliage Tracker and Foliage Reports to estimate when the colors will be at their best!

One Week Trip Itinerary

I arranged this itinerary based on where fall colors usually peak first up north, then eventually heading down south where they peak later on. This itinerary packs a ton of locations and activities into a short amount of time, so I highly recommend completing this route over the course of 10 days to two weeks in order to get the most out of your trip!
Day 1
Fly into Boston or Manchester, and rent a car, then kick off your trip with a four-hour drive! Make your way to the northernmost part of New Hampshire: The Great North Woods.
Head to Dixville Notch State Park for some ultimate early season leaf-peeping. I recommend hiking Table Rock Trail to get the best view, but be mindful of the steep drop offs at the top!
Day 2
As the leaves change, book it down to the White Mountains. I recommend spending the most time in this area as it is my absolute favorite place in the world for seeing fall colors! Arrive in Franconia Notch State Park and do a quick hike for sunset. There are tons of hikes in the area depending on your skill level, but Mount Pemigewasset is a great one to get an amazing view!  FYI Littleton is a town nearby that's a good stop off to get WiFi and a bite to eat.
Day 3
Catch sunrise at a classic spot, Artist's Bluff, for a great view of Echo Lake. Then head over to Flume Gorge for an easy walk through some gorgeous fall colors (get there early to beat the rush).  If you aren't too tired yet, go hike Falling Waters Trail in the afternoon, and see not one, but three gorgeous waterfalls!
Day 4
Give your legs a rest day today and go for a scenic drive instead! Cut through the White Mountains and drive the gorgeous Kancamagus Highway. Be sure to leave plenty of time for all the scenic stop-offs along the way.  After the drive, you'll arrive in the adorable mountain town of North Conway. Explore around town for the afternoon, or you can also rent canoes and kayaks nearby if you want to get out on the water!
Day 5
Head up to Crawford Notch State Park for another incredibly scenic drive and some great hikes! Once again, take your time driving through the park to explore backroads and pull over at all the scenic spots. My favorite hike in the area is Mount Willard, which provides an amazing vista over the valley.
Day 6
Head south down to Lake Winnipesaukee. This lake is absolutely massive and is a great area for exploring and leaf-peeping! Spend the afternoon strolling around the charming town of Meredith, then stay overnight in a cabin on the lake for a relaxing New England experience.
Day 7
Drive around the lake in the AM for some final scenic views, then head back to the airport and make your way home after seeing some incredible New Hampshire fall foliage!

More Info

For more detailed information to help plan your autumn trip, check out the rest of the fall planning section. There is a lot of helpful info including more trip ideas, things to do, where to stay, and how to navigate this beautiful state!