If you’re from New Hampshire, you may know that we live alongside the black bear. About 5,700 to be exact. Living in a more rural area, I’ve had many bears over the years cross right through my back yard. It’s definitely a sight to behold, having such a large, wild animal literally right in your neck of the woods.
Clark’s Trading Post has been training black bears for show work since they obtained their first bear back in 1931. Initially, the roadside attraction, located off Exit 33 on Interstate 93 in the north country of NH, featured purebred Eskimo sled dogs and paraphernalia from the far North.
You’ll still find many buildings worth of museum quality items on the property, from antique cars and gas station memorabilia, to early electrical household items such as telephones and sewing machines, to old horse drawn fire engines.
Not only that, but over the years the Clark family added a variety of other popular crowd drawing attractions and shows which draw many visitors to their unique piece of the woods in northern New Hampshire.
General admission for ages 4-64 is $20. This price includes all rides and shows. Some people I’ve found think that $20 for a 5 year old is pretty steep, so you may want to consider that before you go. However, if it’s a nice day out, you’ll easily spend an afternoon there, and in my opinion, get your money’s worth.
One thing I’d like to point out, I’ve never been to a CLEANER small theme park. The landscape is lush and well manicured, the buildings and rides are well maintained, and they do a fantastic job keeping any litter picked up. I mentioned to my husband several times as we walked around how well kept everything was.
The biggest draw to Clark’s Trading post is certainly the trained bear show. Currently, Maureen and Murray Clark work with the trained bears. The 1/2 hour show begins with some basic education about native NH black bears. The Clark family wants not only to entertain you, but to teach you about the animals that they clearly love so much.
On the day that I visited, Tula and Echo were the two bear performers. Ringside seats are filled with many families, often those with younger children. Squeals of laughter can be heard as the bears perform such tricks as swinging in a chair, balancing on a barrel, dunking a basketball into a net, and climbing into a “bear carriage” to be wheeled like a child around the ring. I’ve seen this show several times over the years, and it doesn’t seem to change all that much, but it still holds great appeal to people of all ages.
Another favorite show at Clark’s is the Yandong Chinese Acrobatic Troupe. They’ll truly astound you with the various acts of extreme balance, flexibility, and concentration. We saw parts of two different shows. Several young women sat high on top of unicycles and often while moving, threw and caught numerous bowls on top of their heads. The show wasn’t perfect, and occasionally they dropped some of the bowls, but I’d like to see you try doing it successfully 100% of the time. I know that I couldn’t!
Another female acrobat performed an amazing act of balance and concentration, by balancing many trays filled with candles and glasses on the bridge of her nose. Not only that, but she was climbing up on moving objects and ladders while doing so. She didn’t drop a thing or miss a step. You don’t see performances like that very often. There was also fire involved, which is always a huge show stopper!
Additionally around the park, you can enjoy a theatrical 2 1/2 mile train ride in which a “Wolfman” emerges from the woods on his rusty go-cart contraption, shooting off a fake gun, and yelling for you to get off of his property with raised fists. Some people find this a bit over the top, and although many kids enjoy the “show”, many are frightened by it as well. You definitely need to consider the personality of your own child and whether this ride is appropriate for them. On the day I was there, I didn’t see any teary, fearful children.
Two vertigo inspiring attractions, Merlin’s Mystical Mansion and Tuttle’s Rustic House, are also worth checking out. Merlin’s Mansion features a brief seated experience where you literally feel like the room is spinning around and you’re upside down. The effects are quite unique, but certainly could leave you feeling dizzy.
Tuttle’s Rustic House is an amusing 15 minute tour where you learn about the local Tuttle family. Son Ezra Tuttle had a unique perspective and his contraptions were often whimsical and certainly one of a kind. The foundation has settled, and as a result, you’ll be exploring this attraction standing at an angle.
Clark’s Trading Post has something for everyone. I found my husband, the history enthusiast, really enjoyed spending time in the museums. My 13 year old son liked the Water Blaster Boats the best. He got SOAKED. Not only are you squirted with water by fellow boaters, but spectators can insert change into a coin operated water cannon to shoot unsuspecting ride goers. My 15 year old daughter enjoyed the Chinese acrobat shows.
I liked the fact that for a reasonable price, my entire family could spend the day together in the beautiful backdrop of the White Mountains. If you’re a parent, you will find as the kids get older, spending time together as a family can get a bit challenging. I embraced that day at Clark’s Trading Post, and felt truly grateful for it.
My family and I visited Clark’s Trading Post on our own. We paid for our admission to the park, as well as any food and souvenirs. I’m sharing our experience to the park with you so that you can make up your own mind as to whether Clark’s is right for your family.