|Rhododendron State Park|
|New Hampshire State Park|
|- elevation||1,191 ft (363 m) |
|Area||2,723 acres (1,102.0 ha)|
|Website: Rhododendron State Park|
Rhododendron State Park in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, United States, is a 2,723-acre (11.02 km2) state park located on and around Little Monadnock Mountain, containing a 16-acre (65,000 m2) stand of native Rhododendron maximum, the largest of nineteen similar stands in central and northern New England, the northern limit of their growing range.
The rhododendrons bloom in mid-July, and were designated a National Natural Landmark in 1982. The park also includes wild blueberries, cranberries, mountain laurel, heathers, mayflower, and wintergreen.
The park is open to hiking and picnicking. Leashed pets are permitted in the park with the exception of the Laurel Trail. A short loop trail navigates the stand of rhododendron, and the 110-mile (180 km) Metacomet-Monadnock Trail passes over the summit of Little Monadnock Mountain in the center of the park.
In 1901-1902 Mary Lee Ware played a pivotal role in the creation of the park. In 1901, landowner Levi Fuller planned to "lumber off" the property and would have if not for Mary, who bought it in 1902. Giving it to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) a year later, she signed the deal on the condition that the woodland "...be held as a reservation properly protected and open to the public..." The contract barred cutting down any trees or picking any rhododendron, a promise that has been broken only once due to the 1938 hurricane.
The donated land is called "Old Patch Place," remodeled by the AMC as a hostel/clubhouse but has since 1946 come under the protection of the N.H. Division of Parks and Recreation -- the system's only designated botanical park. The "Old Patch Place" cottage near the park entrance was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
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