Why the Kancamagus Scenic Byway Is Our Favorite

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View of kancamagus highway near the scenic byway

Utah’s Highway 12, California’s Pacific Coast Highway, Acadia’s Park Loop Road, and Glacier’s Going-To-The-Sun Road are some of the most popular scenic drives in the country.

Each highway is unique and offers spectacular landscape views, from crashing waves and red arches to towering mountain peaks. Perhaps a lesser-known roadway is the Kancamagus Scenic Byway in New Hampshire.

This hidden gem is in the White Mountains and should be on everyone’s travel itinerary at some point! Let’s discover why the Kancamagus Scenic Byway is our favorite!

What Is the Kancamagus Scenic Byway?

As an American Scenic Byway, people know the Kancamagus Scenic Byway for its history, beauty, and culture. Resting in New Hampshire, the byway stretches 34.5 miles along Route 112.

It connects the cities of Lincoln and Conway with a stunning west-east drive. At its highest point along the Kancamagus Pass, the Kancamagus Scenic Byway rises almost 3,000 feet above sea level.

Where Does the Kancamagus Highway Begin and End?

You can hop on the Kancamagus Scenic Byway at the White Mountains Visitor Center in Woodstock, New Hampshire, outside Lincoln. Exit Interstate 93 and turn left onto the byway to start your drive east. 

Once you turn onto Route 112, you’ll see restaurants, hotels, and attractions for a few miles before they disappear, and it’s only you and the natural beauty of the White Mountains.

Trailheads, overlooks, and campgrounds are along the scenic byway but no gas stations or other businesses. They’re only at the two ends in Lincoln and Conway.

Once the Kancamagus Scenic Byway enters Albany, New Hampshire, you’ll start to see businesses pop up again. Route 112 ends at a T-intersection with Route 113 in Conway, also Main Street.

View of kancamagus scenic byway in the fall

How Long Does It Take to Do the Kancamagus Scenic Byway?

The length of time you spend on the byway is up to you.

You could stop at every overlook, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy eating at a recreational site, or take a hike to make a day out of your visit along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. If you drive 34.5 miles without stopping, it will take you over an hour.

Reasons to Love the Kancamagus Scenic Byway

The drive along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway isn’t only beautiful. There are other reasons to love this stretch of highway in New Hampshire.

From rustic camping options to numerous hiking trails, you could spend a day or several days exploring this area.

View of kancamagus highway near the scenic byway

Rustic Camping Experiences

If you’re looking for a place to get away and unplug, there are several rustic camping experiences along the byway.

Six White Mountain National Forest campgrounds are off the scenic drive, easily accessible for anyone making the journey.

Jigger Johnson Campground is the only campground with showers. Covered Bridge Campground is the only campground taking reservations. None of the six campgrounds have hook-ups, but they offer picnic tables, access to drinking water, and bathrooms.

Keep in Mind: Before you hit the road this fall, take a look at our Ultimate Fall Camping Packing List!

Incredible Fall Foliage Views

Because the Kancamagus Scenic Byway runs through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, one of the best times to make the drive is during October.

The fall foliage views are stunning. The mix of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens surrounds you at every turn, offering breathtaking scenery at each overlook. Even if you don’t get out of the car, it’s a beautiful time to enjoy this part of New Hampshire.

Plenty of Places to Stay

Although the rustic campgrounds are the only available places to stay along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, there are many locations at the two ends. Hotels, bed and breakfast inns, resorts, and more offer comfortable and luxurious stays for travelers.

It’s all a matter of preference as to which accommodation you choose. For example, the Kancamagus Lodge is near famous ski slopes, while the Kancamagus Swift River Inn offers a continental breakfast and proximity to hiking trails.

View of kancamagus scenic byway in the fall

Copious Places to Explore

Along the drive, it’s hard to remain inside the car because of the ample opportunities to explore. Four trendy waterfalls along the byway include Sabbaday Falls, Rocky Gorge, Lower Falls, and Champney Falls.

Lower Falls is a fun swimming hole during the summer months. In winter, there are three cross-country skiing trails. The Nanamocomuck Trail is the most family-friendly option.

Moose, bears, and deer are also commonly seen along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. So be alert as you enjoy the scenery!

Hiking Options Galore

There are always risks when hiking, so stay updated with current weather conditions before venturing out. Proper footwear is essential, and always pack water, a first aid kit, a whistle, a pocket knife, extra food, and other crucial items before hitting the trails.

Along the byway, there are numerous options for trails. There are over 20 trailheads, including Moat Mountain Trail, Boulder Loop Trail, Rail and River Trail, Champney Brook Trail, and Bolles Trail. The Lincoln Woods Trail leads to more than thirteen other trail connections.

For families, the Discovery Trail is a fun, educational nature walk. The Sabbaday Brook Trail is one of the busiest because it leads to the popular Sabbaday Falls. Hikers can also continue past the waterfall and summit Mt. Tripyramid, 4,110 feet above sea level.

Keep in Mind: Next time you’re in New England, you need to do at least one of these 10 Fall Hikes You Have to See to Believe

View of kancamagus scenic byway

Is the Kancamagus Scenic Byway Worth It?

Traveling through the Northeast, especially during peak leaf season, is one of the best vacations you’ll ever take.

The views are stunning, and the fall foliage is breathtaking. It would be best if you didn’t overlook the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. It may be the highlight of your trip to New Hampshire!

Plan a couple of days or even a week exploring the White Mountains. If you can travel in October, it’s an excellent time to visit. Even if it’s summertime, you’ll enjoy the swimming hole at Lower Falls and the greenery of the landscape.

When will you take a drive along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway?

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