The crowning glory of the White Mountains , the Presidential Range are spectacular natural monuments—rugged white granite cliffs, the most notable of which are named for past American presidents or prominent Americans of the 18th and 19th centuries. So while Mount Washington, the range’s central summit (and, at 6,288 feet, the highest in the Northeast), may be its best-known and most touristed, there are certainly others well worth exploring—including Mount Webster (after Daniel Webster), Mount Eisenhower, Mount Franklin (after Benjamin), Mount Jefferson, Mount Samuel Adams, and Mount Madison.
Visiting the summit of Mount Washington  has become a rite of passage for many New England families—thus the prevalence of bumper stickers stating “This Car Climbed Mount Washington,” sold on the mountain. Indeed, the chilly peak is more like a touristy town than a barren wasteland: It’s home to a restaurant, museum, souvenir shop, weather station, and even a train station.
Not so the other mountains’ summits, which remain undeveloped (if not uncrowded in the peak tourist season). The mountains on the high ridge leading north from Mount Washington (Mounts Madison, Adams, and Jefferson) are considered some of the most excellent hikes  and climbs  in New England.
The lure of all this mountaineering has made the area around the mountains a bustle of activity—from serious climbers and explorers to cliff-gawkers, day-trippers, and vacationing families. Because this section of the White Mountains  was developed earlier than the western peaks, however, it is scattered with mementoes of the golden age of railroad cars, steamer trunks, and grand hotels.
There is no direct way to the Presidential Range area from the center of the state. From Concord , your best bet is to take I-93 north to exit 23, then cut across Routes 104 and 113 west and Route 16 north to Conway  (80 mi., 2 hrs.). You can also get to Conway from Portsmouth  by taking Route 16 north the entire way (80 mi., 2 hr.). From Conway, continue up route U.S. Route 302 north to North Conway, Glen , and Bretton Woods (35 mi., 1 hr.).
Concord Coach Lines (800/639-3317, www.concordtrailways.com ) runs a daily bus from Boston  through the White Mountains, stopping at Conway (First Stop Market & Deli, 13 West Main St.), North Conway (Eastern Slope Inn, 2760 Main St./Rte. 16), Jackson  (Covered Bridge, Rte. 16), and Pinkham Notch  (AMC Visitors Center, Rte. 16, Gorham). Greyhound (800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com ) also runs buses to Conway (First Stop Market & Deli, 13 Main St.), North Conway (Eastern Slope Inn, 2760 Main St./Rte. 16).