State officials share update on multi-agency effort to address safety and parking on I-93 in Franconia Notch State Park

Heading into the busy summer hiking season, state officials issue reminders of efforts underway to ensure safety for people visiting Franconia Notch State Park (FNSP). The shuttle service that started up again in May is already making a positive impact on parking issues along Interstate 93, which runs through the Park. State officials held an event in FNSP to spread awareness for the expanded shuttle service and to provide an update on ridership this summer travel season. To date, 1,930 park visitors have utilized the shuttle since service began on May 18.

“Franconia Notch State Park and the entire White Mountain National Forest are treasures, drawing visitors from all over the country and the world,” said Department of Business and Economic Affairs (BEA) Commissioner Taylor Caswell “We are pleased to see our hiking community utilizing this new shuttle service, which provides a safe and legal alternative for visitors. Moreover, this initiative is a prime example of multiple agencies and stakeholders coming together to develop a positive solution—with minimal impact on the visitor experience.”

With increasing visitation to the White Mountains region, the parking situation at the Falling Waters/Old Bridle Path Trailheads in FNSP had become an issue of visitor safety and environmental protection in recent years, due to visitors parking vehicles outside of designated lots along the shoulder of Interstate 93. In addition to the shuttle service, which is operated by the New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR), visitors will see a comprehensive effort this summer to eliminate parking along Interstate 93, including physical barriers and an increased state police presence.

For the past two years, BEA, DOS, DOT, DNCR, the White Mountain National Forest, Appalachian Mountain Club and other industry partners have been working to explore alternatives to parking on the highway. From August through October 2018, the New Hampshire DNCR operated a pilot program to test the viability of the shuttle service concept.

“The Franconia Notch State Park Shuttle provides a valuable service and a safe alternative for hikers using the state park,” said Sarah Stewart, commissioner, NH Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “We are pleased to provide this service to accommodate the increasing number of people hiking the popular trails adjacent to Lafayette Place Campground.”

The shuttle provides access to the popular trailhead in the notch. The service runs on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The cost to ride is $5 per person round-trip (cash only) between Peabody Big Lot at Exit 34-C, Lafayette Place Campground, Falling Waters trailhead and back to Peabody Big Lot. The shuttle service will run through Columbus Day weekend. For more information on the shuttle service and parking in Franconia Notch State Park, visit www.franconianotchstatepark.com.

“There’s ample parking and the shuttles are running smoothly," said DOT Commissioner Victoria Sheehan. “It’s one less thing to worry about.”

For more information on available hiker parking, parking lot capacity, and accessible trails from these locations, go to franconianotchstatepark.com. More information on trails can be found on visitnh.gov/hiking.