mwv insider Blog

Educational Family Vacations


There are many winter vacation destinations throughout New England that offer skiing, skating, sledding, and snow sports, but there are no other destinations that offer some of the unique educational and recreational programs you'll find in Mt. Washington Valley, NH.

From renowned ice festivals to above tree line winter sightseeing, and snowshoeing with well known naturalists by moonlight you can spend weeks in Mt. Washington Valley seeking unique experiences, and find another each day here. We like to call it “Edutainment”, and we’ve perfected the art of education concealed inside of wonderful indoor and outdoor entertainment.

Learn From a Naturalist

Guided evening snowshoe tour at Great Glen Trails: Led by an Appalachian Mountain Club Naturalist, you'll learn to navigate by using your senses, learn new animal sounds and calls, and test your  night vision. There is a minimum age of 8 years old to participate, and Great Glen Trails offer snowshoes for rent. The program lasts 90-minutes, and you'll finish the tour having learned something new. Once you're done, make the trek across the street to The Glen House Hotel for dinner, and piping hot cup of hot cocoa.

Photo c/o Wiseguy Creative Photography

Take in Nature with a Guided Snowshoe Tour - and Even Practice Some Yoga

Purity Spring Resort and Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring Foundation also offer guided snowshoe tours.

While snowshoeing at Purity Spring Resort, you'll enjoy an approximate 1-1.5 hour guided snowshoe tour (moonlit tours are a bit longer) of the NH Audubon's Hoyt Wildlife Sanctuary Loop. Tours leave from the The Mill at Purity Spring Resort (less than a quarter mile from King Pine base lodge south on Route 153) and group will meet outside, under cover near the main door to the Purity Spring Resort guest check-in office. Equipment rentals are available, and must be made in advance. Click here to learn more, and see which dates are available for guided tours.

Mt. Washington Ski Touring Foundation hosts regular guided snowshoe tours that depart every Saturday from its Touring Center at Ragged Mountain. Tours start at 1:00 pm, and are ideal for first-timers and novices interested in learning basic techniques.

The guided snowshoe walk takes you along the East Branch and Saco rivers. Tours last between 1.5 - 2 hours covering a distance of less than 2 miles at an easy pace. This activity is suitable for all ages and abilities. Learn about the trees and wildlife and search for animal tracks while learning basic snowshoeing technique and bushwacking skills. Click the link to learn more.

Guided Snowshoe Yoga tours are an added twist that you can tack onto your day of outdoor fun. Mt. Washington Ski Touring Foundation also hosts regular snowshoe tours that end with a calming yoga flow by the river. The tour begins with some warm up stretches, preparing for a beautiful snowshoe walk in the woods. Taking the trail at an easy pace, you'll follow the teacher to an open spot to pause for some simple poses that are accessible to all levels of yogis. The snowshoe walk will end with a few easy stretches.

Learn How to Track Out in the Field

"Expect the Unexpected" is a Tracking Field program presented by Tin Mountain Conservation Center: "Snow provides us a yearly opportunity to learn more about our animal neighbors. The track patterns left behind will be our window into figuring out: Who left those tracks?  What were they doing? Were they in a hurry?

Dr. Rick Van de Poll will help explore these snowy riddles. Families of all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. Dress warm and bring snowshoes or borrow ours.

Tin Mountain regularly puts on ecological programming like this, and this is one of many in-person and virtual educational events it offers at a very affordable rate. Click here to learn more, and to register.

Photo c/o Wiseguy Creative Photography

Become a Mountaineer

Take a course with a seasoned guide! Learn how to ice climb, or how to approach a winter hike. Learn how to read a map, tie many kinds of knots, and follow a compass. Many guiding and climbing schools put together outdoor adventure programs that are rooted both in fun, and education.

There are so many benefits when it comes to working with a guiding school for your outdoor adventure. The guides of Mt. Washington Valley have years of market research and hands-on training when it comes to troubleshooting weather, mapping trails, equipment, and more. They’ve seen and done it all in the White Mountains, and know how to address any situation once you’re out on the trail.

Plus, you'll have so much fun! You’ll see the White Mountains through a whole new set of eyes. Tap into the years of experience that many of these guides have. They’ll share their favorite hiking stories, historical anecdotes of the trails, and maybe even impart some of their tried-and-true hiking tips with you.

Redline Guiding offers customized adventures and educational experiences. Choose from backpacking adventures to nature tours to hiking adventures. The guides can personalize each adventure based on the type of challenge you’re looking for. They also offer winter mountaineering adventures that range from beginner ice climbing trips to summiting Mount Washington.

AMC Highland Center and Joe Dodge Lodge are two adventure centers overseen by the Appalachian Mountain Club. The Highland Center is located in Crawford Notch, off of route 302, and the Joe Dodge Lodge is in Pinkham Notch off of route 16. Both offer overnight accommodations and guided adventures for individuals and groups. Staff-led trips are customized for adults, children, teens and groups.

Wander the Whites: Enjoy relaxed outings for all abilities, with a customized "Two Hour Tour" to start. Or you have the option of signing up for a more challenging half or full-day trip. These options are great for folks that are learning to get used to their equipment or just want to get to know the White Mountain National Forest. When you connect with a Wander the Whites Local Guide - you will experience "Life like a Local" and go home with a sense of awe and care for our Mountains and living life here.

Fish Nerds Guide Service: is excited to bring you on an Ice fishing adventure! It specializes in new fishers, families and group outings. Learn the technical aspects of ice fishing, and take on some ecological knowledge as well, when it comes to the best places to fish in the White Mountains, and how to use the resources sustainably so you can fish for years to come.

International Mountain Climbing School: for over 45 years IMCS has been guiding folks and teaching them the skills to be safe and proficient in the mountains. Mount Washington is its training ground, home of the ‘World’s Worst Weather’. And with world class climbing locations such as Cathedral Ledge, Whitehorse Ledge, Frankenstein Cliffs, and Cannon Cliff, the guides of IMCS can teach you the skills you need to enjoy the mountains for years to come whether you’re a raw beginner or seasoned expert. It offers programming such as ice climbing, backcountry skiing, mountaineering skills, winter camping, and more.

Eastern Mountain Sports: offers pre-scheduled group lessons and guided adventures, as well as customized private lessons and tours for individuals as well as families.  Be sure to ask them about their adaptive programs. The guides at EMS specialize in climbing, hiking, and skiing programs, with a focus on helping people try new things, learn new skills, and have more fun outside.

Photo c/o Wiseguy Creative Photography of the Mt. Washington Auto Road SnowCoach!

Extreme Weather Education

Mount Washington Observatory is one of the few institutes in the world that mans a year-round, full-time weather station atop a mountain. It's survived some of the world's worst weather, and regularly conduct experiments for gear companies and the US Military. You can participate in its virtual classroom with weekly, regularly scheduled programming.

Connect live via Zoom to the highest peak in the Northeastern US, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, as Weather Observers and Education Specialists at the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory present a virtual program called “Home of the World’s Worst Weather Live.” Taking place each Tuesday, programs focus on a particular topic in weather and climate such as air masses or fronts, or how extreme winds are measured. MWO's summit scientists will take roughly 20 minutes to share their knowledge in addition to the latest conditions  from high above tree line, followed by a Q&A session. Click this link to learn more and register.

Once you learn about the history of the Mount Washington Observatory and all it can share with you on extreme weather and climate, see it for yourself, and pair it with a ride up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The country's first man-made attraction; an 8-plus mile paved road leading up to Mount Washington; will take you just above tree-line on New England's highest peak. You'll ride in a specially prepared, 12 passenger van, called The SnowCoach! You can experience winter from atop Mt. Washington accessed from the comfort of a heated van, and learn all about the unique eco systems of this spectacular mountain on the ride up and down. The view is spectacular and you can see for miles and miles, and what's more, each snow coach ticket includes an all-day trail pass for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing and access to Great Glen's snow tubing hill.

For complete trip planning resources and information, explore this site,, or call 800-367-3364 (800-DO-SEE-NH) to talk to a Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce rep.  To learn more about New Hampshire vacations, go to

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