by Philip Greenspun; revised February 2010
Kancamagus Highway (and Franconia Notch)
In Maine, they've got the ocean. In New Hampshire, they've got high mountains covered in pine trees. Pine trees do not change color in the winter time. It took me awhile to figure this out, but I'm pretty sure that it is true. In Vermont, they've got lower mountains covered in deciduous trees. Deciduous trees change color in the winter time.
Start with the Michelin Green Guide to New England. This book has excellent driving tours with all the important sights marked with stars. They have a particularly nice tour for the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Contact Robert Hitchman, author and publisher of Photograph America, and get the back issues on Autumn in Vermont (#2) and Acadia/Maine Coast (#13).
Finally, pick up the state tourist board maps as
you cross borders. These are useful for pinpointing covered bridges
and such. None of these maps show the tiny little roads that you'll be
on for the best photography. Even the GPS databases are not quite up
to the challenge of the rural road networks of these states and will
try to send you down roads that would be best described as "jeep
tracks". If you have a good sense of direction and don't mind being
mildly lost much of the time, enjoy your rambling. If you are overly
analytical and want to know where you are, then pick up the moby
Delorme atlases for Vermont,
You have to allow at least three or four days in each area. I'd say that you could productively stay in Woodstock, Vermont for a whole week, straying no farther than 50 miles from your hotel. The White Mountains deserve at least three or four days. Franconia Notch, north of Lincoln, tends to peak around October 1st so don't get there too late. If you like the fading grand resort idea, stay at the Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, which gave its name to the system of exchange rates that prevailed into the 1970s. It is a long 6-hour drive from Boston to Acadia National Park in Maine. Allow a week for the Maine Coast and Acadia or give up on the idea and come back another year.
My friend Bill grew up in Vermont and his favorite inn throughout the state is Ten Bends on the River (802-888-2827) in Hyde Park (NE of Burlington).
Here are some driving tours:
Here's in the order in which I would fill my camera bag:
The motto on New Hampshire license plates, "Live Free or Die", is reasonably photogenic, especially when one considers the motto's history of litigation. A woman sued because she wanted her car registered in New Hampshire but wanted a plate without the bellicose motto. The courts told her that she was out of luck. Perhaps she's moved to Boston where people save their bellicosity for the actual driving...
Anyway, my favorite New Hampshire picture is the side-by-side State Safety
Rest Area and State Liquor Store. New Hampshire used to be one of the few states
where you could legally drink a beer in your car, i.e., they had no "open
container law". Anyway, you don't need PhotoShop to create this absurd image.
Just pull over at the first stop off I-93N from Boston.
Or almost home. I snagged a fairly reasonable foliage picture just north of the Boston suburb of Ayer, Massachusetts.