Your guide to travel in Mt Washington Valley, NH – FAQs about limitations, protocols & restrictions
North Conway, NH – This is the summer of questions as travelers seek to slowly venture out of their homes. Mt Washington Valley, NH makes the ideal driving destination from all points in New England and the mid-Atlantic states for those who enjoy outdoor recreation, family attractions, golf, restaurants, tax-free shopping, and everything from camping to resort accommodations. Yet, with travel restrictions that vary greatly from state-to-state, it’s no wonder that travelers have many questions about what to expect and how to prepare for visiting Mt Washington Valley. Here, we seek to clarify some of the most frequently asked questions in the Mt Washington Valley Chamber office.
▪ Note: Guidelines and restrictions are subject to change. Information is accurate as of mid-August, 2020. Be sure to call ahead to confirm that guidelines have not changed.
What do I need to do/know in order to visit New Hampshire this summer?
In his July 2 press conference, Gov. Chris Sununu announced that residents from the New England states may stay at New Hampshire hotels and lodgings without a 14-day quarantine requirement. However, the quarantine requirement is still in effect for residents from states outside of New England. Those visitors coming from outside the New England states checking in at hotels and other lodging must “self-attest” that they’ve quarantined at home and taken steps to prevent potential transmission, including social distancing and wearing masks. Please read the "Safer at Home" guidance for hotels here and note the definition of quarantining at home.
What are the universal precautions all businesses are taking in Mt Washington Valley?
Mt Washington Valley businesses are committed to providing a safe environment for visitors and for their employees alike. Both employees and visitors may be screened daily for symptoms of Coronavirus. Additionally, increased sanitization and cleaning protocols have been put into place in businesses across the community. Hand sanitizer has been added to many businesses and public places throughout the Valley and visitors are encouraged to use it. Finally, masks and social distancing are required by businesses in the Valley. The Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce has placed signs throughout the community reminding visitors to respect the new rules. For complete guidance to the Universal Guidelines for business operation in New Hampshire, click here.
Are the family attractions open?
Nearly all of the larger family attractions/amusement parks in Mt Washington Valley are open with the exception of Living Shores, the new Aquarium next to Story Land, which remains temporarily closed until further notice (although the restaurant and retail store are open). Starting June 29, 2020 amusement parks were allowed to reopen for daily operations but with a limit of 25% capacity. To enforce the capacity requirement, guests are required to pre-register or pre-purchase admission tickets prior to arriving at the park. In some cases, admission may be limited to certain time periods to ensure social distancing. Thus, when assigned a time to arrive, please arrive a few minutes early to take full advantage of your time in the park. This varies from business to business, so be sure to check with your favorite amusement park or attraction prior to coming and make reservations before you arrive. Customers are encouraged to limit the number of personal items taken into the facility. Additional details on guidance for amusement parks and larger attractions are located here.
A different set of guidelines apply to outdoor activities located in recreational or natural settings where groups of ten or less people recreate together or individually. This applies to biking centers, canoe and kayak rentals, mini-golf, outdoor driving ranges, outdoor shooting ranges, small fishing charters, paint ball, and outdoor guiding services (fishing, hunting, and hiking). Click here for operational guidelines for more individualized outdoor attractions.
Can we visit museums?
New Hampshire’s museums have been given the green light to re-open. However, a number of the museums in Mt Washington Valley, including the MWV Children’s Museum and the MWV Observatory’s Weather Discovery Center are both temporarily closed. The New England Ski Museum is scheduled to re-open weekends only (Sat/Sun) in North Conway on August 15, 2020 with a maximum capacity of 12 visitors. Places like Tin Mountain Conservation Center, the Remick Country Doctor Museum and Castle in the Clouds are all open and operating according to guidelines.
What about golf courses? Are they open and what can we expect?
Public and private golf courses in Mt Washington Valley and throughout New Hampshire were among the first to re-open in late spring. All are now presently open to the public. All golfers should be prepared to bring their own clubs, and not allow anyone else to handle them. Guests should also be prepared to wear a mask or cloth face covering when around others in settings where social distancing may be difficult. All facilities are following new business processes and guidelines to protect their employees and consumers detailed here. These include such stipulations as tee times being spaced at least 10 minutes apart and sharing carts with family members only OR wearing masks and maintaining a six-foot distance with non-family members.
What if we want to hike on the trails or visit waterfalls? Can we?
The answer to this question is “yes, but….”. The White Mountain National Park trails are nearly all open, but parking is limited. Sadly, those seeking to spend time in the outdoors have overcrowded many of the areas like Diana’s Baths, First Bridge and the more popular hiking spots. Cars have been parked and sometimes double parked for miles on the roads near trail heads, causing traffic back ups for miles. Trash and even human waste have been left behind more and more this summer by visitors who do not respect the “carry out what you carry in” rule. If you want to enjoy the outdoors and Mt Washington Valley’s extensive trails, swimming holes and outdoor offerings, the Mt Washington Valley Chamber simply asks visitors to show respect, follow the rules and mind their manners. If there is no parking left, find another place to go. If there are no trash bins available, take your trash home. Click here do read more about this situation and what is expected.
Are there any special restrictions in place for lodging properties?
Hotels and resorts, motels, B&B’s, Inns, cabin/condo communities and similar accommodations, including short-term rentals are now open and accepting overnight reservations from New England residents or out of state visitors who have met the 14 day quarantine requirement and are willing to attest to it. Lodging properties are responsible for distribution and collection of the forms required from all out-of-state guests. Expect to complete and return the form to your lodging property and answer all questions lodging properties are expected to ask regarding any COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, etc. All lodging properties are required to follow the guidelines to protect employees and consumers outlined here. Guests should be prepared to wear a mask or cloth face covering when moving within the facility if social distancing is not possible. For example, during check-in or check-out, and when going to or from a guest room. In addition, lodging properties serving food are expected to comply with restaurant guidance too.
Do we need to make a reservation at restaurants?
The food service/restaurant industry is allowed to offer outdoor dining throughout the state and indoor seating in the following counties: Belknap, Coos, Carroll (i.e. Mt Washington Valley), Cheshire, Grafton and Sullivan. Seating in dining areas are limited in capacity to allow tables to be socially distanced. Indoor seating is also allowed again in Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham and Strafford Counties, with a 50% capacity occupancy. Customers are required to wear a cloth face covering when entering and exiting a facility and when walking to/from their tables to protect other patrons and employees. Face coverings may be removed when a customer is seated and dining outdoors. The guidance outlining restaurants are detailed here.
Due to limited seating, many restaurants ask that you make a reservation, although some are on a first come/first serve basis. If you make a reservation, we ask that you arrive on time to allow plenty of time for dining. If you are unable to make it for your reservation, call ahead so others who may be waiting can be seated in a timelier manner. Remember, the restaurants are struggling under diminished capacity, and if visitors don’t show and don’t call, the restaurant loses even more money.
Are masks required in Mt Washington Valley?
New Hampshire is the only state in the region without a universal statewide mask mandate in place. Governor Sununu did recently announce that masks are required at events of more than 100 people. However, Mt Washington Valley businesses ask both employees and visitors to wear masks while visiting – especially in shared spaces. Additionally, all visitors are expected to observe social distancing and to keep at least a six-foot distance between them and other customers and employees. The entire Mt Washington Valley community has been careful to follow a phased opening to help combat transmission of the virus. The business community is committed to providing a safe environment for residents and visitors alike but can only do so if everyone is careful. This includes social distancing and wearing masks willingly.
All stores throughout the Valley are requiring masks to be worn in order to enter, and social distancing requires limiting customers depending upon the square footage of the store.
Mt Washington Valley welcomes visitors who understand and commit to efforts to keep everyone safe. No one wants to become sick, and by observing guidelines, state protocols and basic rules of respect for one another, Valley businesses can play their part to keep you safe. For more information on visiting Mt Washington Valley, including updated info on what businesses are open and Covid-19 updates, please go to www.MtWashingtonValley.org. For more information on visiting New Hampshire, go to www.VisitNH.gov.