January 18, 2021

Mount Washington Ends “Motorcycles Only” Days

GORHAM, NH – After approximately 15 years of setting aside days during Laconia Motorcycle Week solely for motorcycles, the Mount Washington Auto Road won’t be continuing the tradition this June.

Dramatically declining participation by riders has prompted a decision to end the practice. “We’ve been talking about it the last two summers,” said Howie Wemyss, who is general manager of the attraction.

With ridership on those “motorcycles only” days – June 10 and June 13 last year – dropping below 1,000 riders from a high of more than 3,000 motorcyclists a day, the decision to discontinue “motorcycles only” days just made sense.

“For the first few years, there was significant growth as the word got around,” said Wemyss in a phone interview this afternoon. “But in recent years it has been steadily dropping off.”

Motorcyclists will still be able to ride up the mountain, weather-permitting; they will just have to share the road with four-wheeled vehicles. Wemyss said a lot of riders don’t really care if they have to share the road or not.

One benefit to the end of “motorcycles only” days for the attraction is that drivers on four wheels who arrive unaware of that fact won’t have to be turned away. “That didn’t go over well. They arrive here and they’re not happy,” Wemyss said.

For riders concerned about sharing the road, Wemyss offered some advice. “Get here early – the first hour of operation. You’ve got the road to yourself,” he said.

The Mount Washington Auto Road is a 7.6-mile road – both paved and gravel – to the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington. The average grade is 12%. It routinely take 30 minutes for vehicle to drive up and 30 to 45 minutes to come down, according to the Mount Washington Auto Road’s website.

Admission for a motorcycle with operator is $20, plus $10 for a passenger.

The Mount Washington Auto Road has been open since Aug. 8, 1861. More than 45,000 vehicles drive the road each year.

(Photos courtesy of the Mount Washington Auto Road)

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Since 2010, RIDE-CT & RIDE-NewEngland has been reporting about motorcycling in New England and portions of New York.


  1. I’m with Adam – we share the road everyday. Riding here in the Phoenix area is hella lot scarier than any mountain.

    I could be wrong, don’t I know of any other rallies that shut roads down – South Dakota doesn’t have any MC only days, and when riding Needles one year, I encountered a guy pulling a 6-horse trailer, which was pulling a car hauler…on a switchback. Also came close to getting hit by another MC as he came around a corner in my lane. Nothing more disappointing than seeing a fellow biker being stupid.

    Regardless, when the tourists see the line of bikes, they will probably keep going…

  2. If you see a decline in the past I’m fairly certain you will see a much bigger decline in visitors in the future. Also in the past there were vendors in that large tent at the base of the Mt. They no longer exist! Maybe in stead, try to find ways to attract more bikers for the event. In the past there was always only one day, Thursday, then they added Monday which perhaps is one of the issues not to mention the weather always plays a factor.

  3. I understand we all can’t control our weather the last 2 yrs the weather hasn’t been the greatest but I strongly suggest there should’ve been more advertising about the event and even go as far as just one day with a chance for a bad weather day there is plenty of ways to let 4 wheelers know about the motorcycle only day I really hope you all rethink the whole situation and try different approaches to advertise to both the motorcycles and 4 wheelers even 1 day with a rain date. I mean 17000 dollars on a bad day that’s pretty good turnout I been riding for years and this is one of my favorite getaways the last 3 yrs I have introduced this day to many new riders please reconsider this and try and come up with a plan that works for everybody I hope all my brothers on bikes leave a comment and keep this awesome tradition alive

  4. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about honestly. We all ride everyday with cars and trucks on the road. Even up into you actually get to the strip during bike week cars and trucks everywhere on the road. So I personally see no problem with this if you’re that uncomfortable riding with cars on the road maybe you shouldn’t ride. And traditions don’t always stay be happy that they still have bike week because that’s gotten weak if you ask me. Same merchandise in almost every spot you turn. It’s great at night time at the bars but they really need to change things up in my opinion

  5. I rode up both of the last two years, weather was not as bad as forecast, but i did note that those forecasts kept a lot of bikes away…
    I’ll try it this year with the four wheelers… but i dont like riding the auto road nor the Kanc when there’s just too many cars involved…
    Aaaaah well, theres always Hurricane Mtn Rd and ME 112…

    Sad to see a cool tradition lost without much input from riders…

  6. I went up in 2019 and the weather was almost perfect. Enjoyed the ride as there was plenty of room with no nervous 4-wheelers staying in the middle of the road.

  7. I counted the bikes on the picture taking site and the road made $17,000 the first day last year. Yes, participation is going to be low if the weather is bad.

  8. I haven’t had the chance and this year I finally do and I see this I have been to both summer and the new fall one and a lot of people I have talked to never knew about the only bike days all you need to do is a lot more advertising

  9. The weather has not been good the last 2yrs, duh! How bout making it just one day and see what that does for overall turnout. I’m not sure exactly how many bikes you expect but we’ve been doing the Ride to the Sky for the past 8yrs and except for the past 2yrs of bad weather it sure seemed pretty busy to us. We hope you reconsider your decision and give the bikes at least one day to keep the tradition going.

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