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Leaf Peepers Flock to MWV for Columbus Day Weekend

North Conway, NH - The first weekend of October is known as one of the busiest periods for tourists in Mt. Washington Valley, and this year was no exception. Visitors flocked to the North Conway area for fairs, festivals and foliage, despite a rainy Saturday. Many area businesses reported being sold out with strong business for the long weekend. Hotels, attractions, restaurants and retailers enjoyed welcoming visitors from around the world, here to view the region’s renowned fall display of colors. 

MWVCC Executive Director Michelle Cruz stated, “Columbus Day Weekend is often the peak of visitation in our region thanks to our world-famous foliage display. The Mt. Washington Valley and the White Mountains are a huge draw for leaf peepers. Our members reported strong numbers for the long holiday weekend. Despite the rain on Saturday, people came out in droves and frequented our many attractions and activities. We believe it’s a good harbinger for the winter tourism season in our region.”

Foliage is just starting to turn in the Mt. Washington Valley. Saco River in the foreground, Cathedral and Humphries Ledges in the background, above the Schartner Strawberry Farm and Lucy Farm.  Shot Sunday, 10/8/23 by

According to a survey by the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce (MWVCC), over 81% of businesses responding stated they were “extremely busy” for Columbus Day Weekend. 100% of those surveyed reported “strong sales” for the period. Rob Arey, Marketing Director from The Mount Washington Cog Railway, stated they have been sold out since the beginning of last week and continuing at least through next weekend. Conway Scenic Railroad had similar results, stating they were effectively sold out from Thursday through Monday (October 4 to 9), with extremely heavy bookings for the following week. The Mt. Washington Auto Road shared that their retail sales and “Drive Yourself” sales were strong for October, but that weather played a big part in the amount of business they had this weekend. 

The Fryeburg Fair reported that Saturday’s wet weather dampened attendance for their typical biggest day, but Sunday was a blockbuster. The Fair’s Superintendent of Publicity & Advertising Rachel Andrews Damon, stated, “We are somewhat weather influenced, but at the same time, our fairgoers are hearty, and dress accordingly.  We have so many inside options - our livestock barns, our exhibition buildings, museums and our grandstand.  So we're good to go!”  Their weekend business was down year over year but up over 11% for the entire week. 

Some restaurants benefitted from Saturday’s rain. Bill Frittenburg, GM at Black Cap Grille, said that they had a big day because of the rainy weather. The Red Parka reported that dinner sales were soft on Saturday night as many went to lunch late. 

Lodging accommodations including the Eagle Mountain House and the White Mountain Hotel both reported being sold out for the weekend. Berry Companies, owners of the Eastern Slope Inn and Attitash Mountain Village, saw increased revenue compared to last year for the period. Joel Bourassa, GM of the Eagle Mountain House, shared, “The buzz from the full house was palpable here. People were happy to be here at the hotel and excited about sightseeing in the Valley.

While most visitors to the area were from Massachusetts (69.23% of respondents reported visitors from the state), many also traveled further including Rhode Island and Connecticut (53.85%); New York and New Jersey (46.15%); or taking a flight to get here (46.15%).  Member businesses reported seeing international visitors from England, France, Indiaand Japan. 

For more information about the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce and its member businesses, visit them online at

The Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit organization, dependent on membership to deliver valuable services, providing resources and events to support our membership and local community at large, and marketing the Mt. Washington Valley as a premier and vibrant New England vacation destination. This cultivates a business climate promoting growth, collaboration, and innovation supporting the opportunity to live, work, play, and stay in the Mt. Washington Valley.

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