The greatest national forests of America

By Stef Zisovska
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National forests provide a healthy ecosystem for humans and wildlife. Therefore, they play a valuable role in the world. Within the territory of the US there are countless national forests worth visiting and exploring. These public forest lands are actually the lungs of the country, and all of us should be proud to have them. The national forests in America are gifts of nature that we need to protect and treat with respect.


Here are some of the greatest forests in the country that you should know about.

Tongass National Forest, Alaska

Mendenhall Glacier in Tongass National Forest near Juneau, Alaska – Author: Richard Martin – CC BY 2.0
Mendenhall Glacier in Tongass National Forest near Juneau, Alaska – Author: Richard Martin – CC BY 2.0

Tongass National Forest is bigger than half of North Carolina. Its 16.5 million acres are home to Sitka spruce, cedar, and western hemlock, as well as majestic glaciers and ice fields. Its diversity is hard to believe, but on the other hand, it’s completely understandable if you think of the size of the forest. The trees are famous because of their size, as well as their longevity. Some prime examples are over 800 years old. More than two-thirds of the Tongass forest is designated as a federal wilderness where many wild animals including brown and black bears, mountain goats, black-tailed deer, wolverines, river otters, harbor seals and bald eagles find their home.


Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington

High Lakes Area, Gifford Pinchot NF, WA – Author: AdorableFluttershy – CC BY-SA 3.0
High Lakes Area, Gifford Pinchot NF, WA – Author: AdorableFluttershy – CC BY-SA 3.0

Gifford Pinchot National Forest is known for its unusual landscape, highlighted by Mount St. Helens National Monument. The landscape of the forest includes tunnels and caverns that were formed eons ago by cooling lava flows. The most popular features in the forest are the Ape Cave, which is 2.5 miles long, and part of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Many outdoors enthusiasts come to spend a day hiking in Gifford Pinchot National Forest hoping to see some of its popular wildlife which includes elk, black bear, mountain goats, and bobcats. The forest is abundant in rivers, streams, and lakes where a variety of fish such as chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead trout, cutthroat trout, and rainbow trout live.

Coconino National Forest, Arizona

Coconino National Forest, Arizona.
Coconino National Forest, Arizona.

When you think of Arizona, a forest is probably not the first thing that pops into you your mind. Don’t let your mind fool you, though, because Arizona is not just about deserts full of cactus. Coconino National Forest is a mixture of different environments, and that’s what makes it special. Here you can find red rock formations and alpine tundra. The forest is a popular destination for hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and camping enthusiasts. The wildlife in Coconino includes elk, javelinas, black bears, rattlesnakes and more. Nevertheless, the most popular feature of Coconino National Forest is the archeological site atop the remains of the ancient Sinagua village.

Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, North Carolina

Linville Gorge Wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest
Linville Gorge Wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests in western North Carolina are what makes this state such a desirable destination during the fall, where people flock to admire the forest’s amazing autumnal colors. There is probably no better place in the country for a fall road trip than this part of NC. You can visit the forests in fall to see the yellow, brown, red, and orange colors of the leaves, but the off-season is also amazing. The stretches of oak, hemlock, tulip poplar, pine, sycamore, and dogwood are always attracting people to do some hiking, fishing or partake in many other outdoor activities. The Pisgah and Nantahala contain over 200 miles of the Appalachian Trail which is one more reason to visit the region if you are passionate about hiking.

The States are full of natural beauties, and national forests are definitely some of the greatest treasures this country have. What we need to be more aware of is the uncontrolled deforestation that’s endangering large parts of these forests. Protect your environment and make sure you always act responsibly when visiting nature.

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