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Sculptured Rocks Natural Area

Dartmouth - Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire

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Sculptured Rocks Natural Area

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  • The trailhead sign points the way.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
  • While there's no fee to access the site, donations are suggested.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
  • Snowmobile trail leading to the bridge over the river.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
  • Wider section upstream just before entering the canyon.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
  • Flowing water through the canyon.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
  • Potholes carved out by the flowing water.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
  • The view upstream from the bridge.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
  • Looking down from the bridge.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
  • Rock formations below the bridge.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
  • An old foundation along the snowmobile trail.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
  • Heading back to the bridge on the snowmobile trail.- Sculptured Rocks Natural Area
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Large parking area. Very short walk. Interesting geology.
Cons: 
Popular in summer. Slippery rocks. Swimming is dangerous in high water.
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Region:
Dartmouth - Lake Sunapee, NH
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Sculptured Rocks Geologic Site is a spot worth visiting that’s only a few steps from the car. This natural area covers 272 acres along the Cockermouth River with interesting rock formations and potholes you’ll want to explore all afternoon. This geologic feature has been sculpted over the approximately 12,000 years since the last ice age ended by sediment in fast-flowing water.

You won’t see the river as you park your car, but you’ll probably hear it flowing just beyond the trees across from the lot. Be sure to park in the lot because there are many signs indicating roadside parking is prohibited. Cross the road and pick up a well-defined snowmobile trail that leads to a wooden bridge, where you’ll be mesmerized by moving water as you peer down into the canyon. A self-service fee station encourages a donation of $4 for adults and $2 for children to help maintain state park properties. There are faint paths in both directions to get you closer to the water and offer different perspectives for viewing the potholes. Be careful on the rocks, though, as they can be slippery!

Sculptured Rocks is open year round, and each season offers its own special beauty. Autumn leaves blanket the little canyon in oranges and yellows and snowmobiles travel through in the winter. During summer, it’s common to see people swimming in calm sections of the river or jumping into potholes with deeper pools. While the river offers a gorgeous place to cool off, be wary of the conditions. When water is high and fast, swimming becomes very dangerous.

If you’re looking for more of a walk, you can cross the bridge and hike along the trail, where you’ll see an old foundation on the right as you gradually head uphill. Go as far as you’d like and return the way you came, checking out the view from the bridge one last time on your way out.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(6 within a 30 mile radius)

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(33 within a 30 mile radius)

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