Mount Washington Observatory Summit Day Trips (Winter 2021 dates to be announced later this summer)
IMPORTANT: Please read all background information and requirements for Mount Washington Observatory winter summit adventures, including required back-up dates. Click through each drop-down menu below to find out more information about dates, topics, cancellation policies and more.
A True Alpine Adventure
Summit a snow-covered peak in a day? With Mount Washington Observatory Day Trips, you can!
You'll enjoy a thrilling snowcat ride to the top of the tallest peak in the Northeast and spend a day reveling in the mountain's legendary weather and scenery. A highlight of your visit will be a guided tour of the Mount Washington Observatory's famous mountaintop weather station and the opportunity to meet the scientists living and working in this remote outpost. Then, after a hearty, homemade lunch, you'll head back down the mountain before nightfall.
If you're looking a true alpine adventure in a succinct, affordable format, this is the trip for you.
- Round-trip transportation to and from the base in our deluxe snowcat
- A dedicated Observatory trip leader
- Beverages and snacks upon arrival and lunch before you leave
- An exclusive tour of our weather station
- The opportunity to experience Mount Washington's famous winter extremes
Want something longer? Check out our overnights.
Your adventure will begin at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, where you'll meet your trip leaders and load the snowcat. As you ascend the 8-mile road, you'll take in the incredible scenery of Pinkham Notch and the Presidential Range while marveling at the power of a two-ton tracked vehicle plowing through massive snowdrifts.
When you reach the top you will have gained over 4,500 feet of elevation, traveling from the temperate forest, through tree line, and into the alpine zone–a rugged, otherworldly landscape of earth and sky. After unloading the snowcat you'll head inside the weather station and warm up with a hot beverage and snack.
The rest of your day will be planned around the mountain's incredible weather, but will include:
- Ample opportunity to experience subarctic-like conditions, which often include winds at, or above, hurricane force, remarkable icing, freezing temperatures, blowing snow, and more
- A behind-the-scenes tour of the Mount Washington Observatory's famous mountaintop weather station, where you'll learn about the institution's work and see the instruments used by Observatory scientists
- A trip to the top of the instrument tower for a birds-eye view of the summit from the highest point on the mountain
- A delicious, homemade lunch
Trips meet at 8:30am and generally arrive back at the base around 4:00pm. Please note that the exact timing of your ascent and return will be determined by the weather, so participants should be prepared for schedule changes. The changes could be as minor as an earlier departure to avoid an approaching storm, or as major as having to spend the night on the summit in the event of an extremely severe, unanticipated weather event. Safety trumps all other concerns, so please bring your sense of adventure and a willingness to go with the flow.
- January: 6, 20, 24 (Backup date 1/31*)
- February: 3, 14, 24 (February backup date 2/28*)
- March: 2, 6 (March backup date 3/23*)
*When selecting a day trip date, you are required to attend that month's backup date in the event of a postponement or cancellation. Please read below for further information regarding Mount Washington Observatory's cancellation policies.
$429 per person for supporting members of the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory.
$499 per non-member. Not a member? Join now to save money and enjoy a number of valuable, exclusive benefits, including advance notice for upcoming trips and registration.
* Program rates do not include an additional administrative processing fee charged by our online booking service. This service reduces administrative time and helps Observatory educators, educate!
**Tips for your trip leader and/or instructor are not expected, though if you wish to provide one, they are appreciated.
Reservations may be made through this website or by phone at (603) 356-2137, ext. 211. Trips are limited to a maximum of nine participants, and we maintain waiting lists for trips that are full.
Health & Safety Requirements
Observatory trips grant access to Mount Washington's alpine zone, but not everyone is suited for this environment. Please read our full health and safety requirements to make sure you are eligible for a Mount Washington Observatory winter trip.
For the safety of all our staff and guests, Mount Washington Observatory does not permit the consumption of alcohol or controlled substances in or around our summit weather station or in any of our facilities. Alcohol is not available on the summit, nor should it be brought to the summit by staff, visitors or guests.
Cell Phone Use: Mount Washington Observatory cannot guarantee cell coverage during your visit. We recommend turning your cell phone to airplane mode for the duration of your adventure. A laptop computer with internet access is available at the Observatory for urgent use but unfortunately there will be no wireless network access available at the Observatory.
The minimum age for a winter trip is 16. Minors must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or qualified adult leader, and must meet all health and safety requirements
For your health and safety, and for the health and safety of your fellow trip mates, you will be required to come prepared with attire and gear to protect you from Mount Washington's extreme conditions. View the full list on our required winter gear list.
If you have any questions about any of this gear, don't hesitate to contact us. We will help you find what you need to enjoy the trip of a lifetime!
Trips depart from and return to the parking lot at the northeast corner of the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The parking lot is located on Route 16 directly across the road from the main entrance to the Mount Washington Auto Road. Once we are assembled we will do introductions, load our gear into an Observatory vehicle and walk across the street to the Observatory's garage for a brief safety orientation and then head up the mountain. Note: please park together with the other cars against the forest, so plow trucks can move easily through the lot.
Extreme weather may occur at any time, and may delay a trip's descent. For this reason, we recommend that you remain flexible with your travel plans for the day or two after your trip. At least once per winter season, a trip must remain on the summit for one or even two additional days due to severe weather. Please be prepared for this possibility—it's part of the adventure!
Participant Cancellation: Trip fees will be refunded for cancellations made at least 30 days before the trip date, less a $50 administrative fee. Cancellations less than 30 days but more than 14 days before the departure date will be credited at 50%. Cancellations made within 14 days of the trip date will result in forfeiture of the entire trip fee.
Observatory Cancellation: A minimum of six participants is required for a trip to run. If we do not reach that minimum by one week before the trip, the trip may be cancelled. All registrants will be offered the option of a refund or a re-booking on another available trip that same season.
The safety of our guests and employees is of utmost importance, so trips may be cancelled due to extremely inclement weather. We will do our best to notify all participants of the cancellation in advance, but mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable, so we cannot guarantee advance notice. The decision to cancel a trip could be made on the morning of the trip, or even during the ascent. Please be prepared to have alternate overnight accommodations. In the event of a cancellation, a backup date for each trip has been provided. You are required to attend this backup date if your trip is cancelled or postponed. Due to limited resources and the associated costs of providing transportation to the summit of Mount Washington in winter, Mount Washington Observatory is unable to provide refunds or re-bookings for participants that cannot participate in the backup date provided.