The United States Congress designated the Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness (map
) in 1975 and it now has a total of 27,605 acres
All of this wilderness is located in New Hampshire
and is managed by the Forest Service.
South of Mount Washington, at 6288 feet the highest in the northeast, the large glacial cirque known as Oakes Gulf lies at the headwaters of the Dry River. This river - and just to the east the Rocky Branch - carve sharply down through the heart of this Wilderness and offer contrast to the surrounding long, high ridgelines of the Southern Presidentials and Montalban Ridge. The Dry River is something of a misnomer, as anyone who has tried to cross it after a period of even moderate rain can attest. This, and the many other streams in this Wilderness are flashy and swift, and run cold and clear from snow that melts well into the summer.
The area is characterized by mostly spruce-fir vegetation that runs from river bottoms onto the steep slopes of the high ridgelines. Changes in this pattern are found at the southern end of the Wilderness where northern hardwood forests - spectacular in their autumn foliage - dominate, and in the northernmost section where the weather and soils dictate that only alpine-adapted plants will survive. Visitors may encounter deer, moose, black bear, or any of several other species of wildlife while traversing the area along approximately 43 miles of available hiking trails.