Even if you’ve never been to New Hampshire, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a part of the Granite State in person. Tons of rocks extracted from the state’s largest quarry, Swenson Granite Works, were used to construct the Library of Congress, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Pentagon. New Hampshire’s profusion of sturdy granite lines up nicely with its reputation for toughness. After all, this was the first of the 13 colonies to declare its independence—a trait proudly proclaimed on license plates that bear the state’s motto: “Live Free or Die.”
Another common phrase found on local vehicles is one that reads, “This Car Climbed Mount Washington.” The crown jewel of the White Mountain National Forest, Mount Washington rises 6,288 feet to make it the highest peak east of the Rockies. Encircled by an auto road that drivers can scale during non-winter months, the mountain becomes home to some of the country’s best skiing and snowmobiling once the first snow falls.
Cutting through New Hampshire’s mountains of granite are nearly 40,000 miles of rivers and streams. Hundreds of lakes also dot the landscape. Many of these serve as idyllic summer getaways; one, Squam Lake in Holderness, was immortalized as such in the Oscar-winning film On Golden Pond. Though generally serene, the lakes aren’t always so. At Weirs Beach in Laconia, thousands of rowdy bikers congregate for the annual Motorcycle Week festival in June.
Dense forests surround many of the lakes, and in the fall the trees transform into a rich palette of yellows, oranges, and reds. For an up-close look at the changing colors, hike the trail around the Robert Frost Farm in Derry. Some of the country’s most well kept highways snake through the forests all the way south to seaside spots such as Hampton Beach, where fishermen unload their daily catch to sell at local markets.