Hiker Friendly Lodging in the White Mountains

Colonial Motel - North Conway

The Colonial Motel, North Conway

I don’t like paying for a motel room when I drive up to the Whites for backpacking, but it can be a real convenience to spend the night before or after a big trip in a heated room with a shower.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve found some smaller motels that I keep coming back to before or after backpacking trips, and that I thought I’d recommend. These motels aren’t part of the large chains, but are family owned. I’ve found the owners to be extremely helpful and kind, the lodging is comfortable and clean, and the price is right.

The Colonial Motel in North Conway

I learned about The Colonial a few years ago from a guide at International Mountain Equipment. It’s right in downtown North Conway (the small town part with sidewalks and a park) on Rt 16.¬† It’s quiet, there’s free coffee, hot water, and a microwave in the office, and the hot water in the showers is sizzling hot.

The rooms have refrigerators in them and TVs, along with sitting chairs and good lighting. There’s baseboard heat which you can crank up in the winter and a pool around back for the warmer months. I think there is free wireless too.

The Colonial has 15 rooms with parking spaces in front. It’s popular on weekends, so call early for a reservation. You can book a room online, but it’s a few bucks cheaper if you call them directly by phone.

They also have a phenomenal cancellation policy that’s worth noting. If you cancel your room less than 7 days before your arrival date and they can’t rent it, you can bank it for a return visit in the future. That’s just awesome.

Boulder Court Motel in Twin Mountain

The Boulder Motor Court in Twin Mountain

The Boulder Motor Court in Twin Mountain

The Boulder Motor Court is also an affordable and friendly place to stay at if you want to be on the northern side of the White Mountains, closer to Crawford Notch and the Northern Presidentials. This is also a favorite of my hiking partner, Naturegirl, pictured above, when we were nearly stranded  there for days after a huge snowstorm shut down New England.

The lodging at Boulder Court is in the style of small multi-room cabins that have efficiency kitchens in them. The minimum stay is two nights and the cabins come with multiple beds and sleeper sofas, so you can shack up with a lot of friends. Most of the cabins also have fireplaces, which is great in winter.

Located in a small town called Twin Mountain at the intersection of Routes 3 and 302, the Boulder Court overlooks one of the most notorious speed traps in the region. Don’t speed here. The cops are hyper-vigilant about it.

There are also there convenience stores in town that sell beer and a limited supply of groceries, a decent coffee shop, and two small restaurants with good food.

The cost of a cabin ranges from $50-$65/night depending on the size of the cabin and occupancy. They also have weekly rates, making this a very affordable place to stay, if you plan on skiing for a week or taking advantage of the abundance of outdoor recreational activities in the area.

These are some of my favorite places to stay in the area. Do you have any you can recommend?

Written 2010. Updated 2015.


  1. Useful post! I definitely like the look of the cabins at Boulder Motor Court — would be a great base for exploring the area. The AMC lodges are also nice, but a bit more expensive if you want a private room.

  2. Private room pricing at the AMC Highland Lodge is 240+ for two AMC members, including breakfast and dinner. Still that's completely outrageous when you can get motel lodging in the area for 1/4 or 1/3 of the price. Bunk room pricing is $83/night. Still insanely expensive. I know all this because I priced it recently for my wife and myself. We decided to house sit for relatives instead.

  3. Very useful post. N.Conway,and vicinity,can be very pricey for a poor hiker used to basic accommodations/conditions.

  4. Yikes, that's steep! Last time I visited was in the 90s and I slept in a bunk, but don't recall it being so expensive. I expect them to carry me up Mt. Washington at those prices, or at least a free beer and foot massage afterward!

  5. There's a hostel in Conway, also, which is very nice from what I've seen, and definitely cheap. I was with one big group at one point that stayed at the Profile Deluxe Motel in Twin Mountain, which I also remember being pretty cheap (and we had five or six people in one room). As for AMC lodging, that's so far out of my price range that I don't even bother looking anymore. Too bad, too. I think that's one of the things that give them the bad rep a lot of the time.

    I like this post. I was just thinking of places to stay in Northern Maine, too, since that's even further away from everything than the Whites.

  6. I almost hate to tell others about it, but Pinestead Farm Lodge in Franconia is my lodging of choice up there. There are 4 suites, 3 with a kitchen/living room and 3 bedrooms, 1 that has one bedroom/kitchen/bath. I stayed this summer and was lucky to have a suite all to myself for 4 days. Other times I've gone with family and we've taken one as a group.

    It's on a beautiful farm, at the base of Cannon (the backside) with the Kinsman trailhead a mile or so down the road.

    I think it's about $60/night.

    In the summer they have a farm stand so you can come back from a hike and pick up some veggies for dinner. There are no phones or TVs or things like that. Very basic, very homey, with a rooster to gently wake you up.

    It's my happy place. So please don't fill it up when I want to be there. : )

  7. Franconia is a nice little town. I've always wanted to go sit at the airport for a day and watch the gliders take off and land. Good tip, thanks. Perfect for multiple forays on Franconia Ridge and the Kinsmans in winter.

  8. Guthook – post your spots in northern Maine if you want. I'm up for a road trip! Personally, I like to do what I can for the little guys who can't afford to advertise.

  9. Actually, I don't know too many. Just from my time on the AT I can recommend Gull Pond Lodge in Rangeley, Stratton Motel & Hostel in Stratton, Shaw's in Monson, and the AT Lodge in Millinocket. All nice places (if you like the hostel atmosphere) with very knowledgeable and entertaining owners. Bob at Gull Pond Lodge is especially a great character.

    I'd like to get further off the beaten track at some point, so I may be looking in Jackman, Kingfield, and Greenville later on. I can only assume that with the snowmobilers and skiers in those areas in the winter, and campers in the summer, they must have some hiker-friendly accommodations.

  10. Very timely info! I am booking a room tomorrow for when I attend my Winter Mountaineering 101 course with EMS Climbing School. Thanks Phil! :)

  11. You bet. I'm sure you'll enjoy that class. Go to The Moat for dinner and micro-brewed beer.

  12. I stayed at the Schoolhouse Motel in North Conway the last time I went to MT Washington. The room was very nice, if a little dated. The owners were wonderful and very helpful with directions and suggestions. The price was very reasonable as well.

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