Franconia Notch State Park

Franconia Notch State Park is located right in the middle of the stunning White Mountains, just a short drive outside the city of Lincoln, New Hampshire.  This park is tucked into the mountain pass between the Kinsman and Franconia mountain ranges and offers an endless amount of beauty to its many visitors.  This state park easily became another one of our favorite places to visit!  This crew LOVES mountain views and waterfalls and this park has an endless number of both!  Below is a one-day itinerary to get your adventure started!  Please reach out if you have any questions!

Entrance Fee: FREE. 

Echo Lake Beach:  Parking reservations available- May through October. Reservations are not required but encouraged, as the lot fills up quickly.  Reservations can be made here, up to 30 days prior to arrival- Echo Lake Beach.

  • Adults: $4
  • Children 6-11: $2
  • Children 5 and under: FREE

Cannon Mountain Ariel Tramway: Requires a ticket/reservation.  These often sell out quickly, so purchase prior to arrival is recommended.   The Ariel Tramway is open daily, May 27-October 16, 9am- 5pm.  Tickets can be purchased beforehand here- Tramway Tickets.

  • Adults: $25 online, $28 at the ticket window
  • Children 6-11: $20 online, $23 at the ticket window
  • Children 5 and under: FREE

Flume Gorge: Requires a ticket and timed entry.  Again, these often fill up quickly, so purchase prior to arrival is recommended.  The Flume Gorge is open daily, 9am-4pm, May through October. Reservations are available here- The Flume Gorge tickets.

  • Adults: $18 online, $21 at the ticket window
  • Children 6-12: $16 online, $19 at the ticket window
  • Children 5 and under: FREE

Lodging: There is one campground and one RV park within the park.  The Lafayette Place Campground has 97 wooded tent sites and reservations can be made here- Campground Reservations.  The campground is fully open May 21-October 10.  After October 10th, it is primitive camping only.  The RV Park has 7 sites, with electric, water and sewer hookups, Late-May through Mid-October.  After Mid-October, water and sewer hookups are not available.  Reservations for the Cannon Mountain RV Park can be made here- RV Reservations.  If you do not plan on camping, I recommend checking out the lovely towns of Lincoln and Woodstock.  They are both within 15 minutes of the park.   

Dining:  There are many dining options just outside the park, but inside the park, drinks and snacks are available for purchase at most visitor centers and gift shops.  There is also a small café at the top of Cannon Mountain (Café 4080) and a cafeteria in the Flume Gorge Visitor Center. Both dining options have hours that vary seasonally. There are many wonderful dining options in Lincoln, NH and Woodstock, NH as well.  Some of our favorites include- The Common Man, Gordi’s Fish & Steak, Black Mtn. Burger Co., Gypsy Café, Enzo’s Pizzeria, and Woodstock Inn Brewery

Must Know Before You Go:

  1. I highly recommend purchasing Flume Gorge and Cannon Mountain Ariel Tramway tickets prior to arrival.  Both sell out quickly. 
  2. The weather can change quickly in the mountains, and it often has cooler temps.  I highly recommend bringing a change of clothes and rain gear with you.  Also, the trails can get very wet, muddy, and rocky, so I recommend sturdy footwear!
  3. If you plan on completing this entire itinerary, I would bring at least your lunch into the park with you.  Or if you are visiting during peak season, plan the Cannon Mountain Ariel Tramway around lunch time and grab food at the café while taking in the stunning views😊

Cell Service: No reliable service throughout most of the park. 

One Day Itinerary

*There is not much driving time between any of these locations, so while this itinerary has you traveling down I-93 in order, it would not be difficult to complete this itinerary out of order. 

Flume Gorge- This was our favorite trail of the day!  This trail takes you over 2 covered bridges, through a stunning 800 ft gorge, and past both a deep river basin and glacier boulders that formed during the Ice Age!   If you only have time to see one thing in this entire park- I would make it the Flume Gorge.  It should not be missed😊

The Flume Gorge opens at 9am and that is where I would recommend starting the day.  Being the first group on the trail, especially on a busy weekend, was wonderful!  To grab this time slot, I would recommend buying tickets online, a few weeks prior to your visit.  Also, the parking lot is a decent size but this is a very popular spot so you may have trouble finding a spot later in the day. 

We arrived a few minutes early to check out the Flume Gorge Visitor Center and use the restrooms before checking in at the trailhead.  This entire loop trail is moderate in difficulty, with some elevation changes and several sets of stairs. It is 2.2 miles round trip and well marked.

The Basin/Basin Cascade Trail- After the Flume Gorge, head 2 miles north on I-93.  The parking lot and restrooms for The Basin are located to the east (right) of the highway.  Once you are parked, follow signs to the path under the overpass to start the Basin Cascade Trail.  The Basin is a giant granite pool that has been smoothed over time by sand and stones carried by the Pemigewasset River.  This impressive sight is the first stop on the Basin Cascade Trail.  This trail is moderate in difficulty and 2.6 miles roundtrip.  It is an out-and-back trail and very scenic the entire way, so if you did not want to hike the full trail you could easily turn around at any point! 

Cannon Ariel Tramway- The Cannon Ariel Tramway is open every day from 9am-5pm, May through October.  Over 8 minutes, the passenger car heads up the mountain until it reaches the mountain top’s 4,000 ft.   The top of Cannon Mountain will give you stunning views of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, New York and even Canada and is a perfect adventure for your whole crew! There is also a small café at the top that does serve lunch items, between 9am and 4pm. 

Ski Museum- The Ski Museum is a great place to check out before or after your tram ride.  It is located right at the base of Cannon Mountain and immediately to the right of the tramway.  Our whole crew loves skiing, so they loved learning about the history of skiing, seeing how skis have changed over time, and checking out some of the Olympic medals and gear on display!  You can even step into one of the original tram cars!  The museum has free admission and is open daily from 10am-5pm.

Old Man in the Mountain Museum- This small museum is also located right next to the tramway.  I remember visiting when I was younger and seeing the Old Man of the Mountain’s 40 ft profile perched on the side of Cannon Mountain.   In 2003, the Old Man of the Mountain collapsed, but you can check out the museum’s informative exhibits to learn all about it.  You can also head over to the Profiler Plaza and Memorial and check out any of the seven “profilers” to see the Old Man of the Mountain as it once was! 

Artist Bluff/Bald Mountain/Echo Lake- After checking out the Old Man of the Mountain, head north on I-93 and use exit 34C for Echo Lake.  This was hands down the most congested area we visited all day, and you will need to pack a little extra patience for this part of the park.  However, there is a reason everyone is there….it is gorgeous!   We chose to eat lunch at Echo Lake, so that is where we headed first.  There are picnic tables and restrooms available right next to the stunning, picture-perfect lake.  During the summer months, fishing, boating, and swimming are also available- so bring your suits! 😊

After checking out the stunning lake, we headed up the mountain to check out Artist Bluff and Bald Mountain.  If you are visiting on a weekend, especially in the fall, expect this relatively short trail to take much longer than it should with all of the crowds.  This 1.5-mile loop trail is short but relatively strenuous with over 500 feet of elevation gain and quite a bit of scrambling.  The reward, however, is really lovely.  Both Artist Bluff and Bald Mountain provide stunning mountain and lake views that you will not want to miss. 😊 It’s also a great way to end your day at Franconia Notch State Park. 

*If you are sticking around for another day- I highly recommend checking out the Falling Waters Trail or Mt. Pemigewasset Trail. 

Hope you have a wonderful adventure!

family photo for Always Exploring

Meet the Johnsons

Welcome to Always Exploring! We are the Johnsons. We would love to have you follow along as we explore the world one adventure at a time! Here you will find itineraries to all of our explorations that will hopefully be helpful in your own adventure planning!

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