Geography of Strafford County, New Hampshire

Strafford County, situated in the southeastern part of New Hampshire, is a region characterized by its diverse geography, historical significance, and vibrant communities. From its rolling hills and fertile valleys to its winding rivers and serene lakes, the county’s geography plays a significant role in shaping its economy, culture, and way of life. In this comprehensive overview, we’ll explore the geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other notable features of Strafford County.


According to Thedresswizard, Strafford County covers an area of approximately 369 square miles in southeastern New Hampshire. It is bordered by Carroll County to the northwest, York County in Maine to the northeast, Rockingham County to the southeast, and Merrimack County to the southwest. The county seat is Dover, while other significant communities include Rochester, Somersworth, and Durham.

The landscape of Strafford County is diverse, encompassing rolling hills, fertile valleys, and dense forests. The county lies within the New England Upland region, which features a mix of hardwood and coniferous forests, agricultural land, and urban areas. The region’s geography has been shaped by geological processes such as glaciation, erosion, and sedimentation.


Strafford County experiences a humid continental climate, with cold, snowy winters and warm, humid summers. The region’s climate is influenced by its inland location, its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, and its location within the northeastern United States.

Winters in Strafford County are cold and snowy, with average high temperatures ranging from the 20s to 30s Fahrenheit (around -6 to -1°C). Snowfall is common, particularly in December and January, with average annual snowfall ranging from 40 to 60 inches (about 100-150 cm). The region can also experience occasional winter storms and nor’easters, bringing heavy snowfall and strong winds.

Summers in Strafford County are warm and humid, with average high temperatures ranging from the 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (around 21-28°C). High humidity levels can make the temperature feel even warmer, particularly during heatwaves in July and August. Thunderstorms are common during the summer months, bringing heavy rainfall and occasional severe weather.

Spring and fall are transitional seasons, with gradually changing temperatures and blooming vegetation. These seasons bring mild, pleasant weather, making them ideal times to explore Strafford County’s outdoor attractions and cultural events.

Rivers and Lakes

Strafford County is home to several rivers, creeks, and lakes, which play important roles in both the region’s ecology and human activities such as recreation, fishing, and agriculture.

The Cocheco River, one of the major rivers in southeastern New Hampshire, flows through the central part of Strafford County, providing habitat for diverse wildlife and supporting recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and kayaking. The river is known for its scenic beauty, clear waters, and important role in the region’s history.

Other significant rivers in Strafford County include the Salmon Falls River, which forms part of the county’s eastern border, and the Bellamy River, which flows through the southern part of the county. These rivers and their tributaries provide habitat for various species of fish, birds, and other wildlife, as well as opportunities for outdoor recreation and scenic beauty.

Strafford County also contains several lakes and ponds, including Bow Lake and Milton Three Ponds, which offer opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming. These waterways provide additional recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike, as well as important habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife.

Natural Attractions

In addition to its rivers and lakes, Strafford County boasts several natural attractions that showcase the region’s beauty and biodiversity.

The White Mountains, located in the northern part of Strafford County, are home to some of the highest peaks in the northeastern United States, including Mount Washington. The mountains offer opportunities for hiking, camping, and skiing, as well as scenic drives along the Kancamagus Highway and the Mount Washington Auto Road.

The Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, located near Durham, is a protected area that encompasses over 1,000 acres of salt marshes, tidal flats, and upland forests. The refuge provides habitat for diverse wildlife, including migratory birds, fish, and mammals, as well as opportunities for birdwatching, hiking, and environmental education.


Strafford County, New Hampshire, offers a diverse array of geographical features, including rivers, lakes, forests, and mountains. The region’s humid continental climate, natural beauty, and outdoor recreational opportunities make it a desirable destination for residents and visitors alike. Whether it’s exploring the Cocheco River, hiking in the White Mountains, or birdwatching in the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Strafford County invites visitors to experience the best that southeastern New Hampshire has to offer.