"Class I Areas" were specifically identified by Congress in the federal Clean Air Act as worthy of extra protection. These areas have unique visual, ecological, or social values, or are particularly sensitive to the effects of air pollution.
Mt. Washington is actually centered between two distinct Class I areas: the Great Gulf Wilderness Area and the Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness Area. The Great Gulf Wilderness is located in a unique mountain valley surrounded by the Presidential Mountain Range. The valley has steep walls rising from 1,100 feet to 1,600 feet above the valley floor. The area includes many rivulets that drain eastward to the West Fork of the Peabody River. For visitors, the Great Gulf offers 21.3 miles of marked trails, which offer some of the best views of the ridges and summits of the Presidential Range – including Mt. Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast. Great Gulf averages 20,000 visitors annually. The area is open for camping below the tree line most of the year; however, camping is prohibited during the winter when weather conditions make camping unsafe.
The Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness is a rugged expanse of mountains and valleys located south of Mt. Washington and other peaks in the Presidential Range, including Mt. Eisenhower and Mt. Monroe. The wilderness extends over and beyond the central valley of the Dry River to the Saco River, encompassing numerous brooks and smaller, heavily forested mountains. As the name suggests, the Dry River is almost without water by late summer but swells quickly during heavy rains. There are ten trails in the wilderness area totaling 46.1 miles in length. This area receives fewer visitors than Great Gulf (about 7,000 annually), mostly due to its more remote location and very steep and rugged terrain. However, it offers a rare degree of solitude.
Clean and Clear
Moderately Polluted and Hazy
Very Polluted and Hazy
For current visibility conditions, see the Mt. Washington, New Hampshire Live Camera.