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What to Expect at the Summit

The Summit of Mount Washington is a New Hampshire State Park. It is also a spot that has seen various types of construction and assorted commercial activities for well over 100 years. In addition to the uphill termini of the Auto Road (and its Stage Office) and Cog Railway, there are several other landmarks: fuel tanks for the summit facilities, FM radio transmitters for WHOM and WPKQ; the Yankee Building, which houses various radio equipment, the small WHOM transmitter building; an assortment of microwave dishes; and the remains of the WMTW buildings, destroyed by fire in 2003.

The two principal public buildings on the summit are the TipTop House and the Sherman Adams Summit Building, both of which are owned by the State of New Hampshire and operated by Mount Washington State Park.

The stone-walled Tip Top House is the oldest building on Mount Washington, erected in 1853 – though a few were built earlier, none of those have survived. It originally served as a simple overnight hostel for summit visitors. It was refurbished about 25 years ago and is currently maintained as an historic attraction (day-use only), and demonstrates the type of simple accommodations enjoyed by mountain-top visitors a century and a half ago. For further information, visit the State Park's website or call the Park at (603) 466-3347.

The Sherman Adams Summit Building serves as the headquarters of Mount Washington State Park. It is a large, reinforced concrete building, built into the summit's north slope. On a clear day, its windows give a fine view toward the Northern Presidentials. It was opened in 1980.

The Building features a State Park-operated cafeteria and gift shop. There is also a desk where Park Rangers can assist with inquiries. There are public restrooms, and also a Post Office (limited season and hours) which is operated by the staff of the Cog Railway. The Park Rangers also have a first aid room in the building. The lower level of the building features a "hiker's pack room" where hikers can haul in their heavy packs and take a long break before continuing on their treks, away from the general hub-bub of the main floor. (Note: use of stoves is NOT allowed anywhere in the building.) There is NO provision for public overnight accommodations in the building (though there are some overnight programs, which require advance reservations, run by the Observatory), and camping is NOT allowed anywhere in the 59-acre Mount Washington Park.

The Sherman Adams State Building also is the site of the Mount Washington Observatory. The Observatory is a private, non-profit, member-supported organization, which is involved in environmental monitoring (including weather observation), scientific research and testing, and education. The Observatory has "occupied" the summit year-round since 1932, and moved into the Sherman Adams Building in 1980. The Observatory leases space in the Building from the State Park. The Observatory area includes a work area including its "weather room" and related offices, basic living quarters (a small pantry, kitchen, dining area, living room, and spartan bunkrooms), and the attached instrument tower. Tours of the Observatory can be arranged by advance reservation, for educational groups, for a small fee. Tours are also available for Observatory members (summit visitors can become Observatory members during their summit trip – ask at the Museum). Elsewhere in the building (on the lower level) the Observatory maintains the Mount Washington Museum, which features exhibits on the environment and history of the mountain, plus a museum shop with books, mountain mementoes, and other items of interest.

The seasonal schedule and specific hours of the Sherman Adams Building and its amenities can vary through the late spring, summer and early fall, and depending on the weather and other factors. Dates and hours of operation are weather permitting depending on Cog Railway and Auto Road Access. State Park lands are always open for recreation, please be reminded that comfort stations might not always be available.

The Observatory's Summit Museum is typically open from about 9 AM to 6 PM, from mid- to late-May until mid-October. Hours can vary through the season, with the possibility of slightly longer hours in mid-summer and shorter hours early and late in the season.

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