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Conway scenic railroad

Houston
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Conway scenic railroad

We are thinking about making reservations on the RR for the Crawford Notch run (5hrs roundtrip) Can anyone give me an honest opinion as to whether this is a good way to see the fall color and scenery or would we be better served by just wandering the back roads?

Sedona, AZ
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1. Re: Conway scenic railroad

The railroad will take you along some of the back roads. The real scenery will be there for you when you get up to the notch. The downside is that when you ride the train, you do it at the train's speed. For some, that can be frustrating. The upside is that you'll be riding on an historic train. You have to decide.

Your other option is to get in your car and drive. That can mean slow traffic on busy fall weekends, but otherwise you can pretty much go at your own pace. If you're going to be in the Mt Washington Valley for a few days, why not do both? Or mix it up and do Crawford Notch on the train and Pinkham Notch by car.

Antrim, New...
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2. Re: Conway scenic railroad

I would agree with RedSox and tend to be a do it yourself kind of guy, myself. Depending on the amount of tie you will be in the area, five hours can be a lot of time to devote to a slow ride on a historic train or route. The colors are everywhere. In my opinion, there is no single sight or view that is so special or unique that it is necessary to pay for.

Get a good map or set of maps/guides. Definitely pick up the official NH road map at any NH tourism site. It will show more small roads than your typical Rand McNally. There is an excellent Trail Map and Guide to the White Mountains that includes descriptions of dozens of hikes, from the easiest to the most difficult. It also shows many small roads, including unpaved roads that are very accessible by car. Get off the main roadds and explore some of these roads, or head away from the main circuit and explore some of the outlying towns.

But the usual road circuit is beautiful, too. This would be any combination of I-93 through Franconia Notch, Rtes 3, 2 and 302 through and around Crawford Notch, Rte 16 from Gorham down through Pinkham Notch, and also down through Jackson, North Conway and Conway, and Rte 112 aka The Kancamagus Highway across to Lincoln and Woodstock. Explore the extensions of any of these roads beyond the circuit and you will not be disappointed.

Portsmouth, NH
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3. Re: Conway scenic railroad

I honestly thought the Conway scenic RR trip was a joke. I would take the Cog railrod over this, or do some driving on your own.

Antrim, New...
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4. Re: Conway scenic railroad

I haven't been on the Conway, but was on the Hobo in Lincoln and similarly felt underwhelmed. Haven't done the Cog railway, but the cost is discouraging. I would drive to the top of Mt Washington. I'd also recommend the Cannon Mtn Tram. Do both for half the cost of the Cog.

Sedona, AZ
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5. Re: Conway scenic railroad

Beckiet82, Since you mentioned the Cog railway, I'll add a comment. There is no way to compare the two! Both are historic, but the Cog Railroad is a unique train in a unique environment on Mt Washington. If you're looking for an amazing jounrney, the Cog is a way to do it. But don't fail to prepare and appreciate Mt Washington for what it is. Part of what makes the CR so amazing is where it goes. The weather at the summit of Mt Washington has been documented to be some of the harshest weather in the world, even in the summer. The highest winds ever recorded by man were recorded there at over 240 MPH. That's 3 1/2 times stronger than a hurricane. Winds at the summit on a nice day can and will exceed hurricane force of 75 MPH. So if you choose to ride the CR, check the weather forecast and take proper clothes. If you fail to do so, you will have a miserable trip. I guarranty it. But if you realize that this train was constructed almost 150 years ago, and that most people will never see the summit of Mt Washington at all, you will have an amazing and memorable trip.

Lincoln, NH
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6. Re: Conway scenic railroad

MeMe, five hours? Ugh. I'd do this trip only if you have little kids who would enjoy the train, and if you took the shorter (I'm sure there is one) trip.

But timing is everything with foliage. You did not mention the season. But peak colors move from north to south, from higher elevation to lower and from inland to the coast on a variable schedule. You may find everything green in N. Conway, and a trip farther north would yield great color. So, I vote "no" for the train and "yes" for getting a great map and driving the little roads of New Hampshire.

Cadiz, Kentucky
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7. Re: Conway scenic railroad

Redrox has been a wealth of information to me on previous trip - so looks like I need his help again! Since we'll be in that area in 3 weeks, do those winds on Mt. Washington also effect driving??

Sedona, AZ
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8. Re: Conway scenic railroad

cjnky,

So nice to see you here. Sorry I'll miss you in NH. I'll be there in 5 weeks.

But yes, those winds will affect driving on the auto road if you choose to do it. If going to the summit is in your plans, I'd advise you to have a flexible itinerary for your time in the area. Watch the weather forecasts and pick the best day. We had a couple of good clear sky days last Sept when I was there. We drove up to Pinkham Notch on the first good looking day. I was going to drive the auto road. I've done it before one time. There was a caution sign at the auto road entrance due to high winds. We chose not to go. Instead we rode the gondolas up Wildcat and got good views of the summit from there. Then on the following day we went up Crawford Notch and rode the Cog Railroad. The winds on the summit that day were approaching 80mph. I've been there before in even higher winds, so I was prepared, but others on the train were not, and they were having a rough time dealing with it. And I spoke to a couple of drivers who drive the coaches. They told me that they were feeling the effects in a big way as they came around by the Great Gulf. After that they were OK, but those guys are the pros. If there is a caution sign or any other warnings, heed them. BTW, the skys on both days were clear and we could see all the way to the ocean.

And remember, the weather down below can be clear and calm, but the weather on the summit, can be a whole other world. But with a weather station up there, you can get good timely accurate reports on the current and forecast conditions. Again, these guys are pros, so pay attention to what they tell you.

Cadiz, Kentucky
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9. Re: Conway scenic railroad

Thanks! (And ONE of these days we're actually going to manage to be at the same place at the same time! LOL!)

Houston
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10. Re: Conway scenic railroad

Everyone, thanks for your replies. Sorry I have been slow to reply; we are cleaning up after hurricane IKE and still do not have our electric power restored.

Think we will pass on the RR this time and stick to wandering the back roads. Thanks!