Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5 mile drive Scenic Drive in Northern New Hampshire designated as a National Scenic Byway. It’s especially beautiful in the Fall!
Anyone visiting New Hampshire in the Fall just has to drive the Kancamagus Highway. It is truly worth the trip! From Boston Massachusetts, it takes about 2.5 hours to reach the Conway area and the start of the Kanc. It is about 1.5 hours Northeast of Portland, Maine.
For those not native to the area, the Kancamagus – meaning “fearless one” is often misspelled and mis-pronounced as “Kangamangus” or “Kancamangus.” However, the correct way pronunciation “Kank-ah-mah-gus.
Because of this, locals commonly refer to it simply as “The Kanc.” This scenic drive on NH Route 112 starts in Lincoln and runs to Conway. With the Swift River, numerous waterfalls and hiking trails, it’s one of the best and most popular places to view fall foliage in all of New England.
Kancamagus Scenic Byway
The Kanc, featured in Yankee Magazine and on the Travel Channel is famous for its Fall foliage. While the drive is stunning, there are some places you’ll want to stop off to really get a feel for the area.
Here are some of our favorite spots to visit along the Kancamagus Highway:
- Serene Rocky Gorge in Albany is a fabulous spot to get out and stretch your legs. You can opt to view the river from the stone bridge, or do the quick loop hike.
- Sabbaday Falls in Conway also offers a beautiful hike that’s family and pet friendly.
- The Albany Covered Bridge, built in 1858, is actually not right on the Kanc, but worth checking out. You’ll find it on the Passaconaway/Dugway Road near Conway.
White Mountain National Forest Highlights
We have traveled the Kancamagus Highway and other areas of the White Mountain National Forest quiet a bit over the years. Of course, with 800,000 acres in the WMNF, we still have plenty of places to explore!
Frequently Asked Questions
Beginning in September through the first two weeks of October, visitors will see the best fall foliage along the Kancamagus Highway.
Even if you don’t want to do any hiking or picnicking, allow about 3 hours to drive the Kanc. You’ll want plenty of time to check out the scenic overlooks and snap a few photos if nothing else.
At 2,860 feet, Kancamagus Pass is the highest point.
Most visitors start in Conway at the junction of routes 112 and16. Pick up a map at the Saco Ranger Station.
Alternatively, you can start in Lincoln and make your way East, stopping at the White Mountains Gateway Visitors Center for a map.
There is a $5 day pass fee paid on the honor system at the parking areas and trailheads along the Kanc unless you have a White Mountain National Forest annual pass.
However, if you drive the Kancamagus Highway without stopping, there are no tolls or fees – just breathtaking scenery!
There are no “modern conveniences” such as gas stations or restaurants and no homes or other businesses to spoil the natural beauty. Plan ahead and stop for bathroom breaks and food before you set off.
National Park Pass Info
Did you know that there are several ways to get yourself and/or your family a FREE National Park Pass?
Driving the Kancamagus Highway
Before setting off, we fill up with gas so we don’t have to worry about that along the way.
When we want amazing food and a great atmosphere, we stop at Woodstock Inn Brewery. My favorite dish is the pulled pork nachos!
If we’re in the mood for a picnic instead, there are loads of spots to stop with picnic tables and restrooms. Rocky Gorge is our favorite spot for picnicking.
This old-school map shows you not only the route for the Kanc, but also some of the great spots to check out along the way. I recommend stopping at the Saco Ranger Station, just west of Conway, to pick up a copy of the map.