The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) announced plans today build an underground parking garage at The Highland Center, its conference center hotel in the Crawford Notch, at the foot of the Presidential Mountain Range near Mt Washington in New Hampshire. The new garage will have space for 415 cars and service Highland Center guests as well as walk-in hikers and backpackers.
“The lack of parking for hikers has become a critical safety issue in Crawford Notch,” explained John Judge, the CEO of the AMC. “Every weekend there’s an unsightly line of illegally parked vehicles a mile long on both sides of the road in front of the Highland Center that obscures the view of the famous mountain pass.”
“We’ve tried to educate hikers about the pedestrian safety issues of parking along the side of the road in Crawford Notch and how cars interfere with road clearing operations,” said NHDOT Spokesperson Sandy Ahearn, “but it’s been a losing battle. A portion of the garage’s future proceeds will help fund NHDOT operations and illegally parked cars in the notch will be towed at the owner’s expense.”
In addition to parking, the garage will have a bookstore where hikers can purchase maps, a cafeteria, and coin-operated showers much like the facilities at the AMC’s Joe Dodge Center at the base of Mt Washington in Pinkham Notch. While parking will be free to Highland Center Guests, a fee will be charged for day visitors, although AMC members will receive a discount rate.
The garage will be buried under the large alpine meadow in front of the Highland Center. Construction is expected to take two years to complete since winter weather makes excavation difficult. Local environmental and community groups have raised concerns about erosion and construction impacts to nearby Saco Lake and the headwaters of the Saco River, which originate across Rt 302 from the Highland Center. Judge acknowledges these, but explains, “Conservation is our business. You can trust us to protect the fragile mountain and river ecology, since it’s in our mutual interest to protect the natural and historic legacy of Crawford Notch for future generations.”
About the Appalachian Mountain Club
Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of America’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. We believe these resources have intrinsic worth and provide recreational opportunities, spiritual renewal, and ecological and economic health for the region. Because successful conservation depends on active engagement with the outdoors, we encourage people to experience, learn about, and appreciate the natural world.
Click for reservations at the Highland Center and the AMC’s other Camps and Lodges. Group rates are available.
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