The Piscataqua River

The Piscataqua River (pɪs’kæt.ə.kwə), which determines part of the boundary between the states of New Hampshire and Maine and empties into the Atlantic Ocean east of Portsmouth, is a 12-mile (19 km) long tidal estuary formed by the confluence of the Salmon Falls and Cocheco rivers. The last six miles before the sea form Portsmouth Harbor, one of the finest harbors in the northeastern United States, despite a tidal current rated as one of the fastest in North America.

Named by the area’s original Abenaki inhabitants, Piscataqua is believed to be a combination of peske (branch) with tegwe (a river with a strong current, possibly tidal). The first known European to explore the river was Martin Pring in 1603. Captain John Smith placed a spelling similar to “Piscataqua” for the region on his map of 1614. The river was the site of the first sawmill in the colonies in 1623, the same year the contemporary spelling “Piscataqua” was first recorded.

The historic working port of Portsmouth continues to contribute significantly to the economy of Portsmouth and the towns of New Castle and Newington in NH and Kittery and Eliot in ME.

Three bridges span the Piscatqua River, connecting Portsmouth NH and Kittery ME. 
  • The Memorial Bridge connects Route 1 between Portsmouth downtown and Badgers Island in Kittery and is the eastern-most span over the River.  The original Memorial Bridge was built in 1922 and replaced in 2014.  Read about the Memorial Bridge Project and learn about the bridge dismantling and award-winning new construction design.  From the Badgers Island Marina you can watch the time lapse video that captures the Memorial Bridge raising and lowering to accommodate river traffic.
  • The Sarah Long Bridge, often called the “middle” bridge, connects the Route 1 Bypass between Portsmouth and Kittery.  A new Sarah Long Bridge is currently under construction to replace the aging original structure.  Watch the cranes working on the new bridge behind the current structure, as seen from the busy restaurant decks along Bow Street in Portsmouth.  You can also watch live video of the famous Moran Tugboats that assist ships navigating the Piscataqua’s strong tidal currents as they come in and out of port.
  • Interstate 95 runs from Canada to Key West, Florida.  The I95 bridge is the western-most span over the Piscataqua River connecting Portsmouth and Kittery.

 

Visit New Hampshire Beaches & Parks

Bellamy River Park

Seventeen acres protecting shore
birds, waterfowls, animals.
Dover, NH
(603)743-6084

Fort Constitution

National Historic Landmark; formerly Fort William and Mary.
New Castle, NH

Fort Stark

Spectacular ocean views
and remains of
early harbor defenses.
New Castle, NH

Foss Beach

Rye, NH

Four Tree Island

Picnic, fishing.
Portsmouth, NH
(603)431-8748

Fox Head Point
Fuller Gardens

10 Willow Ave
North Hampton, NH
(603)964-5414

Great Island Common

Beach, picnic, restrooms,
parking, admission fee.
New Castle, NH

Hampton State Beach

Two beach facilities, swimming,
picnic, band shell, information
services, comfort station, first aid.
Hampton, NH

Hilton Park

Dover, NH
(603)742-2887

Jenness State Beach

Ocean swimming, parking,
bathhouse, lifeguards.
Rye, NH

Little Boar’s Head

North Hampton, NH

North Beach

Ocean swimming, parking,
bathhouse, lifeguards.
Hampton, NH

North Hampton State Beach

Ocean swimming, parking,
bathhouse, lifeguards.
North Hampton, NH

Odiorne Point State Park

Seacoast Science Center,
educational programs, picnic,
tide pools, admission fee,
historic & nature walks.
Rye, NH

Pierce Island

Picnic tables, restrooms, parking,
fishing, boat ramp, public pool.
Portsmouth, NH

Prescott Park

Gardens, site of summer
festival series.
Portsmouth, NH

Rye Harbor State Park

Picnic tables, boating, salt water,
fishing, parking, public dock,
boat ramp and commercial wharf,
admission fee.
Rye, NH

Urban Forestry Center

Nature trails, arboretum,
garden, historic house,
parking.
Portsmouth, NH
(603)431-6774

Wallis Sands State Park

Sandy beach, restrooms, eatery,
bathhouse, parking, admission fee.
Rye, NH

Winnicut River

18 acres above River Dam,
aquatic species supported.
Greenland, NH

Visit Maine Beaches & Parks

Cape Neddick Lighthouse & Recreation Area

Cape Neddick
15 miles of hiking
trails, picnic area.

Crescent Beach

Sandy beaches, limited parking,
no facilities, bird-watching.
Kittery Point, ME

Fort Foster

Picnic, parking.
Kittery Point, ME
(207) 439-2182

Fort McClary State Park

Picnic, parking.
Kittery Point, ME
(207)384-5160

John Paul Jones Park

Kittery Point, ME

Long Beach

Sandy beach, limited parking.
York, ME

Mount Agamenticus

Panoramic view at summit.
York, ME

Piscataqua River Boat Basin

Eliot, ME

Seapoint Beach

Sandy beach, limited parking,
no facilities, bird-watching.
Kittery Point, ME

Short Sands

Sandy beach, limited
parking, facilities nearby.
York, ME

Sohier Park

Cape Neddick
Igneous rock, bird-watching,
famous Nubble Lighthouse.

Spring Hill Recreation Area

Beach, picnic.
South Berwick, ME
(207)384-2693

Vaughn Woods Memorial

Old Indian Trail,
nature trails, picnic.
South Berwick, ME
(207)384-5160