Geography of Strafford County, New Hampshire

by | March 15, 2024

Geography of Strafford County, New Hampshire

Strafford County, located in the southeastern part of the state of New Hampshire, USA, is a region known for its diverse geography, historic towns, and natural beauty. Encompassing an area of approximately 369 square miles, the county offers a mix of rural landscapes, rolling hills, rivers, and lakes. In this comprehensive overview, we will explore the geography, climate, rivers, lakes, and other notable features that define Strafford County. Check acronymmonster to learn more about the state of New Hampshire.


Strafford County is bordered by the counties of Rockingham to the southeast, Carroll to the northwest, and Merrimack to the southwest. The county seat and largest city is Dover, while other significant towns include Rochester, Somersworth, and Durham.

The topography of Strafford County varies from low-lying coastal areas along the Atlantic Ocean to hilly terrain further inland. The eastern part of the county features salt marshes, tidal estuaries, and sandy beaches along the coast, while the western part is characterized by forested uplands and rolling hills.

Major transportation routes in Strafford County include the Spaulding Turnpike (NH Route 16), which connects Dover and Rochester with Portsmouth and points north, and US Route 4, which runs east-west through the central part of the county.


Strafford County experiences a humid continental climate, with warm summers, cold winters, and moderate precipitation throughout the year. The region’s climate is influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the prevailing weather patterns of the northeastern United States.

Summer temperatures in Strafford County typically range from the 70s to 80s°F (21-27°C), with occasional heatwaves bringing temperatures into the 90s°F (32-35°C). Humidity levels can be high during the summer months, but cooling sea breezes provide relief along the coast.

Winters in Strafford County are cold, with average temperatures ranging from the 20s to 30s°F (-6 to -1°C). Snowfall is common, especially in the inland areas, with an average annual snowfall of around 50 inches. Coastal areas may receive less snowfall but can experience significant winter storms known as nor’easters.

Spring and fall are transitional seasons in Strafford County, with mild temperatures and changing foliage. Spring brings blooming flowers and budding trees, while fall offers colorful foliage and harvest festivals.

Rivers and Lakes:

Strafford County is intersected by several rivers, streams, and lakes, which play important roles in the region’s ecology, economy, and recreational activities.

The Cocheco River is one of the major rivers in Strafford County, flowing through the cities of Dover and Rochester before emptying into the Piscataqua River. The Cocheco River provides opportunities for fishing, boating, and kayaking, as well as scenic views along its banks.

The Salmon Falls River forms part of the border between New Hampshire and Maine, running along the southwestern edge of Strafford County. The river offers opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and wildlife viewing, with several conservation areas and parks located along its banks.

Strafford County is also home to numerous lakes and ponds, including Bow Lake, Milton Three Ponds, and Willand Pond. These bodies of water provide opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating, as well as picnicking and camping in designated areas.

Natural Features:

In addition to its rivers and lakes, Strafford County is known for its natural features, including forests, wetlands, and wildlife habitats.

The Great Bay Estuary is a significant natural feature in Strafford County, encompassing tidal marshes, mudflats, and eelgrass beds along the coast. The estuary provides critical habitat for migratory birds, fish, and other wildlife, as well as opportunities for birdwatching, kayaking, and nature photography.

The Bellamy River Conservation Area and the Pawtuckaway State Park are popular destinations for outdoor recreation in Strafford County, offering hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and opportunities for wildlife viewing.


Strafford County, New Hampshire, offers a diverse and scenic landscape characterized by coastal marshes, rolling hills, and freshwater lakes. From its historic towns and cultural attractions to its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities, the county has much to offer residents and visitors alike. As stewards of this remarkable landscape, residents and local organizations are committed to preserving and protecting Strafford County for future generations to enjoy. Through conservation efforts, sustainable development, and responsible stewardship of natural resources, Strafford County will continue to thrive as a vibrant and cherished part of New Hampshire’s Seacoast region.