Where is Crawford Notch State Park?
- 1464 US Route 302, Harts Location, NH 03812
Crawford Notch State Park lies in the northeastern region of the United States, in the eastern half of New Hampshire. The park is approximately one-hour east of the New Hampshire-Maine border and just over an hour and a half south of the Canadian border. Carroll, a town just a few miles west of the park, is home to the popular ski area, Bretton Woods. The closest town east of Crawford Notch US State Park is Bartlett, with a population of under 3,000 residents. The park is part of the White Mountain National Forest.
How Big is Crawford Notch State Park?
This park is fairly large, covering a total area of 5,775 acres, which averages around nine square miles. Within its borders, the park encompasses waterfalls, multiple trails for hiking, and over three dozen campsites. The elevation of the park rises to 1,532 feet in some areas, as the park is located among several mountains, and is even named after a major pass through the White Mountains.
Crawford Notch State Park Weather
The weather in the park is like that of much of New England, experiencing cold winters and relatively mild summers. During the winter months, temperatures frequently average in the low teens, with January tending to be the coldest month with a mean low of 12 degrees and an average high of below freezing, just 29 degrees. Winter typically brings an abundance of snowfall, around 311 inches (nearly 26 feet) of snow each year in the White Mountains.
Temperatures remain below 50 for much of the year and only typically remain above 50 degrees from May through October. The warmest month of the year in Crawford Notch State Park tends to be July, which sees a normal high of 71 degrees and a low of 60 degrees.
When Did Crawford Notch Become a State Park?
Crawford Notch State Park came into existence in 1913, when the state of New Hampshire purchased much of the area for $62,000 in an attempt to save it from being destroyed by the timber industry. Log buildings and spruce trees were gradually added to appeal to visitors and various other amenities were gradually added. Crawford Notch itself is named for a hunter from Lancaster who came across the gap while tracking an animal in 1771, although it was previously known to Native Americans inhabiting the region.
Things to Do in Crawford Notch State Park
There are many things to do in this state park, especially if you are a fan of exploring the outdoors. Summer and winter nature explorers alike will have no problems staying entertained during their time at Crawford Notch. Below is an outline of activities our State Park Visitors Guide has created for you.
Willey House Gift Shop and Visitor Center
Bring back a memento from your trip to the park. The gift shop and visitor center are open 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM most days. Call ahead to verify the current times as their schedule can change.
Cross-country skiing is a popular activity in the area. Hart’s Location is a heavily frequented area for skiers visiting the park.
The park is dog-friendly, which means you can take your pet out for a walk as long as you keep him or her on a leash. Remember to clean up after your dog and to bring plenty of food and water for your pet.
For visitors who enjoy snowshoeing, the winter season’s snowfall makes for the perfect opportunity to explore some of the trails the campground offers. Mount Willard Trail is a 3.2-mile trail that is popular with snowshoers.
The rugged landscape makes for scenic mountain biking. Check trail conditions before venturing out to ensure they are in condition for your mountain bike.
Picnic areas are sprinkled throughout the park and are a great way to enjoy a good meal and the outdoors. Remember to bring an extra bag for packing out any trash.
Dry River Campground
For visitors wishing to spend the night at Crawford Notch, 36 campsites are available for reservations full-time from June through October. During the off-season months, visitors will want to check the state park website for the most up-to-date hours.
Ripley Falls are over 100 feet high and are formed from Avalanche Brook. Ripley Falls Trail will take you straight to the falls and is just over a mile long each way.
Saco River Trail
The Saco River Trail is 1.5 miles long one way, totaling a distance of three miles if you hike it out and back. This trail is good choice for beginning hikers, as it only gains an elevation of 39 feet.
These waterfalls are the highest in New Hampshire and reach up to 200 feet tall. Hiking the full loop of the falls traces a distance of approximately four miles, or you can also choose to hike 1.4 miles to the falls and back (total of 2.8 miles).
When to Go to Crawford Notch State Park
Deciding when to go to Crawford Notch State Park depends on what your preferred activities are. For more athletic visitors who enjoy the snow, winter months are great for sports like snowshoeing and skiing. These months bring lots of visitors however, so you will want to keep that in mind when planning your vacation. Lodging price scan sometimes go up in the busier times of years.
For visitors who prefer a warmer visit, the late spring or summer months offer opportunities for birdwatching and the possibility of moose sightings as well. Hiking is possible year-round, but visitors should check the status of trails before venturing out to ensure they are in adequate condition if used in the winter months.
Must-Have Things to Bring to Crawford Notch State Park
Don’t forget to bundle up with warm clothing, especially for winter visitors. Even spring and summer mountain weather can turn cold quickly when conditions are right, so remember to dress in layers.
Winter activities like skiing can expend a lot of energy in a short period of time. Remember to stay hydrated by bringing a water bottle with you whenever you are out on a trail, whether is for skiing or just hiking. List of Parks advises bringing an extra bottle of water to stay hydrated.
If you haven’t tried this winter sport yet, the park presents the perfect opportunity. Some of the waterfall trails are good ones for beginner snowshoers, and you won’t want to miss your chance to give snowshoes a try.
Bringing along a printable map of the park is always a good idea. Don’t depend on having cell service or a full cell phone battery. Play it safe and take a back-up paper copy while you are out exploring for the day.
Whether you are bringing picnic food, snacks, or extra clothing, you won’t want to forget to bring a lightweight day pack that you can throw a few spare items into.
While this item may seem strange, bringing an extra pair of dry socks can help keep you warm if your other pair gets wet from the snow. Walking around in wet socks is a recipe for disaster, so pack an extra pair, just in case.
Don’t forget to bring your (charged) cell phone. A phone is an emergency preparedness necessity and is also great for taking pictures and remembering your visit to the park.
Why not bring along a notebook to journal some of your experiences in? Whether you take field notes on the moose you saw or sketch a quick picture of the mountain ridge, journaling your experiences can help you remember the visit for years to come.
It is never a bad idea to bring a friend on your trip with you, especially when you are planning to explore some of the trails. Having someone to share the experience with can give you a new perspective on your trip.
Bring along a tent and reserve a spot in the campground. You can extend your stay this way and make the most out of your visit to Crawford Notch State Park.
Where to Stay in Crawford Notch State Park
Hotels, mountain resorts, and inns are plentiful around the area. The towns of Bartlett and Redstone have dozens to choose from, and a quick drive on Highway 302 will take you by many more. Keep in mind that peak season times often correlates to higher hotel rates, so make sure to plan ahead of the winter ski rush.
Food Nearby Crawford Notch State Park
Restaurants in the area tend to serve traditional diner food and hearty meals like steaks and burgers. Heading north towards the town of Carroll will take you to restaurants such as Stickney’s (standard steakhouse options) and Fabyan’s Station, a lounge serving pub food from a former train depot
Airports Near Crawford Notch State Park
The closest international airport to the park is Boston International. This airport is around 2.5 hours south of the park (about 160 miles) and will have a larger selection than any of the regional airports. Portland International Jetport is just under two hours southeast of the park.