White Mountains, mountains belonging to the Appalachian system of the United States. They occupy the north-central part of New Hampshire and cross the state in a northeasterly direction. Overrun and scoured by glaciers thousands of years ago, they are relatively low, rounded, and smooth-surfaced. Only the U-shaped valleys left by mountain glaciers are steep sided. Except in the highest areas, which are rocky and bare, the mountains are covered by vast forests of evergreen and deciduous trees.
The White Mountains have two main ranges—the Presidential Range in the east and the Franconia Mountains in the west. The Presidential Range, the higher of the two, is so called because many of its summits are named for Presidents of the United States. Of these, Mounts Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, and Washington exceed 5,000 feet (1,500 m) elevation. Mount Washington (6,288 feet [1,917 m]) is the highest in the White Mountains. A highway through Crawford Notch, a mountain pass in the Presidential Range, provides one of the most scenic routes through the mountains.
In the Franconia Mountains, Mount Lafayette is the highest peak—5,249 feet (1,600 m). Others, such as Liberty, Lincoln, Kinsman, and Profile, vary between about 4,000 and 5,000 feet (1,200 and 1,500 m). One of the principal points of interest in the Franconia Mountains is the Profile, or the Old Man of the Mountains, a rocky outline of a man's face high on Profile Mountain.
Other Franconia points of interest include the Flume, a deep canyon with vertical granite walls; the Lost River Reservation, with magnificent mountain scenery and many caverns; and Echo Lake—so enclosed by hills that sounds are repeated four times.
The White Mountains have long been one of New England's year-round vacation and resort areas. The wooded hills, towering granite peaks, placid mountain lakes, and sparkling streams, rapids, and waterfalls attract visitors from all over the country.