The Flume Gorge is a popular tourist destination at Franconia Notch State Park, in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The gorge is a spectacular national chasm with a two-mile nature walk that includes views of covered bridges, waterfalls, and glacial pools — all in a beautiful mountain setting. The natural gorge extends 800 feet at the base of Mount Lliberty, with granite walls rising to a height of 70 to 90 feet.
FLUME COVERED BRIDGE
The Flume Covered Bridge was built in 1871, although its origin is unclear. Some say it was built elsewhere and later moved over the Pemigewasset River, while others believe that it was built on the present site.
In spite of its confused history, the little bridge remains one of the most popular covered bridges in New Hampshire. Its vibrant red facade is well known to the Flume visitors, especially in autumn when the bridge is framed by trees that sport yellow, orange, and red hues.
BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH
My favorite seasons to photograph the Flume Covered Bridge are in autumn during peak fall foliage and after fresh snowfall in winter. The best time of day depends on your preferred angle.
For a riverside perspective of the bridge, I prefer to photograph in the early morning hours, before the sun overexposes the scene. Note that the Flume Visitor Center only opens at 8:30am, so an early visit here requires skirting the usual gate in favor of using an employee-only staircase to the right of the building.
But if you wish to photograph the famous red facade of the bridge, you may want to arrive late-afternoon when its vibrant color is accentuated by the low afternoon sun. Note that if you come between 8:30am and 5pm in season, you will need to buy an entrance pass at the Visitor Center to reach the bridge.
The Flume is situated off Route 3 (aka Daniel Webster Highway) in Lincoln, New Hampshire. From I-93 in Franconia Notch State Park, take the exit marked for the Flume and park in the visitor parking lot. Once you’ve cleared the Visitor Center, follow the narrow paved road for a quarter mile (exclusively for shuttle buses). The Flume Covered Bridge will soon come into view as you walk down a hill parallel to the Pemigewasset River.
If you come in autumn during visitor hours, beware of tourists. It can be difficult to get a pristine photo of the covered bridge without shuttle buses and an abundance of tourists encircling the structure.
If you prefer to photograph the bridge from the Pemigewasset River, be sure to wear waterproof boots and watch out for slippery rocks on shore. I find that the easier access to the river is from the further side of the bridge. Keep walking over the bridge, and look to your right for a more gradual descent to the riverbank.