Free parking: Are drivers allowed to park on highways in the White Mountains?

  • Parked cars creep beyond the parking lot just outside the Lafayette Place Campground and Lonesome Lake Trailhead in Franconia Notch State Park in Franconia on Saturday, July 8, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Orange cones mark no parking areas near Lafayette Place Campground on Saturday. National forest officials have stated if an area is unmarked, no fine will be administered. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • A near-full parking lot at The Basin is seen in Franconia Notch State Park in Lincoln on Saturday, July 8, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

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    "No Parking" signs are seen along the Kancamagus Highway at the entrance to the Lincoln Woods Trailhead in Lincoln on Saturday, July 8, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

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    "No Parking" signs are seen along the Kancamagus Highway at the entrance to the Lincoln Woods Trailhead in Lincoln on Saturday, July 8, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

Monitor staff
Published: 7/8/2017 11:37:07 PM

If you’ve ever parked on the side of a state highway in the White Mountains – as so many drivers do – and worried that you might get a ticket, it probably wasn’t worth worrying about.

Take this example: At the gateway to the Pemigawasset Wilderness is a parking lot that serves as a launching point for some of the state’s most popular multi-day hikes.

Outside that Lincoln Woods lot, parking is prohibited a few hundred feet in either direction along the Kancamagus Highway.

Outside that zone, on a summertime weekend, cars will frequently line either side of the road to form a makeshift, overflow parking lot – one that doesn’t charge the $5 a day for the official parking space provided by the national forest.

This arrangement, which isn’t unique to Lincoln Woods, largely goes unpoliced.

Lincoln police Chief Ted Smith said his officers won’t ticket cars unless they’re in a space that’s specifically marked “no parking.”

But with the amount of areas that remain unmarked, Smith notes that his department “can’t get any headway,” in spite of the meetings it’s had with the Department of Transportation to request more signs. “There’s really not much you can do.” Smith said.

Smith said there’s a similar situation on Interstate 93 in Lincoln, where cars park along the shoulder to access Franconia Notch State Park.

Law enforcement for the national forest can issue tickets both inside and outside its official parking lot “in signed no parking areas – such as the area just outside of Lincoln Woods – on state highways adjacent to NFS lands,” said forest service spokeswoman Tiffany Benna.

Benna’s statement doesn’t address the area just beyond the signage, where cars begin to line the sides of the road, however.

So, according to officials’ statements, if there’s no sign, there’s no enforcement.




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