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Top 10 Forests in the United States of America You Must Explore

The United States is endowed with a wealth of natural beauties, and its woods are a stunning representation of the nation’s rich biodiversity and different geographies. These woods, which span the entire earth, provide recreation for tourists, a haven for wildlife, and essential ecosystems for the planet.

President Benjamin Harrison signed the Forest Reserve Act of 1891 into law after years of logging practices driven by exploitation had decimated the country’s once-vast eastern woods.

The statute established the procedures to preserve woody areas as “forest reserves” following two decades of discussion. For the first time, the federal government actively participated in designating certain woods off-limits to logging and other purposes. The Division of Forestry, the forerunner to the U.S. The Forest Service was established in 1881 to oversee the general health of the country’s forests. These reserves were subsequently called national forests after coming under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forestry in 1905.

List of the top 10 forests in the United States of America

  1. Tongass National Forest (17 million-acre)
  2. Gifford Pinchot National Forest (1.3 million acres)
  3. Coconino National Forest (1.8 million acres)
  4. Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests (1.1 million acres)
  5. White Mountain National Forest (800,000 acres) 
  6. Bridger-Teton National Forest (3.4 million acres)
  7. Superior National Forest (3.9 million acres)
  8. White River National Forest (2.3 million acres)
  9. Cibola National Forest (1.6 million acres)
  10. Sierra National Forest (1.3 million acres)

1. Tongass National Forest

The largest national forest in the United States is the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska. It was created in 1907, and its enormous territory includes a variety of habitats, including temperate rainforests, unspoiled coastal scenery, and harsh mountains. The Tongass is well known for its incredibly beautiful scenery, which includes spectacular fjords, crystal-clear rivers, towering Sitka spruce, and western red cedar.

This forest’s status as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is due in part to the fact that it provides essential habitat for a diverse range of animals, such as Pacific salmon, brown bears, and bald eagles. The indigenous Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples, who have inhabited these areas for thousands of years, also place a great deal of cultural significance on the Tongass.

Tongass visitors can engage in a variety of outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, kayaking, fishing, and animal watching, to experience the isolated nature of the area. Visitors may enjoy both adventure and seclusion on the vast network of paths and campgrounds within the forest, which lets them take in the untamed nature and unadulterated beauty of Alaska’s southern frontier.

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2. Gifford Pinchot National Forest

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest has more than 1.3 million acres of varied elevation, with both verdant forest and rough volcanic peaks situated in the southwest region of Washington State. This forest is named for Gifford Pinchot, a well-known conservationist and the first Chief of the US Forest Service. It provides a plethora of recreational activities and is a refuge for outdoor enthusiasts.

Magnificent old-growth woods, immaculate alpine lakes, and the recognizable volcanic summits of Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams define the forest’s terrain. The 1,500 miles of trails in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest provide chances for hiking, trekking, and wildlife viewing for visitors. The woodland becomes a snowy paradise in the winter and draws skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers to its paths and slopes.

Along with having a rich cultural past, the woodland has traces of Native American habitation dating back thousands of years. The forest’s natural beauty, plethora of animals, and recreational activities continue to draw in both locals and tourists today. The significance of conservation initiatives and the ongoing legacy of individuals who have fought to preserve America’s natural riches are demonstrated by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

3. Coconino National Forest

The Coconino National Forest spans more than 1.8 million acres and features an abundance of pine woods, red rock canyons, and majestic mountains located in the northern region of Arizona. Taking its name from the Coconino plateau, this varied forest provides a wealth of recreational activities and acts as a refuge for animals and outdoor lovers.

Red rock formations, such as the well-known Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Oak Creek Canyon, are among the most recognizable aspects of the Coconino National Forest. These formations draw tourists from all over the world for their potential for hiking, rock climbing, and photography. Along with the towering San Francisco Peaks, which reach heights of over 12,000 feet and provide year-round skiing, snowboarding, and hiking, the forest also has other natural features.

Numerous plant and animal species, including elk, deer, mountain lions, and bird species, may be found in the Coconino National Forest. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and peacefulness of this stunning area by exploring the vast network of trails, campsites, and scenic drives within the forest.

4. Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests 

Combined, the Pisgah and Nantahala National forests cover over 1.1 million acres and provide a wide variety of scenery, from lush forests to flowing waterfalls and rocky mountain peaks. They are located in the spectacular Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. These two nearby forests act as crucial refuges for the region’s biodiversity and provide unmatched chances for outdoor enjoyment.

The 1916-established Pisgah National Forest is well-known for its lofty peaks, which include Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River. Over 400 miles of trails are available for exploration, including parts of the well-known Appalachian Trail, and visitors may engage in outdoor pursuits including hiking, camping, fishing, and rock climbing. Beautiful sights like Looking Glass Falls and the Cradle of Forestry, where guests may discover the background of conservation in the US, are also located inside the forest.

The 1920-established Nantahala National Forest is distinguished by its unspoiled wilderness regions, picturesque vistas, and deep river gorges. The Nantahala and Chattooga Rivers provide excellent whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities, and the forest’s vast network of trails is a popular place for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian riding. Aside from fishing in the many lakes and streams, visitors may also just enjoy the breath-taking vistas from locations like Wayah Bald and Whiteside Mountain.

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5. White Mountain National Forest

One of the most popular recreational locations in the northeastern United States is White Mountain National Forest, which is located in the gorgeous states of New Hampshire and Maine. The forest spans over 800,000 acres of pure wilderness. This forest was created in 1918 and is well-known for its untamed alpine lakes, heavy trees, and craggy rocks.

The White Mountains, a subrange of the northern Appalachian Mountains and home to some of the tallest peaks in the northeastern United States, including the recognizable Mount Washington, serve as the focal point of the forest. There are more than 1,200 miles of hiking routes in the White Mountain National Forest, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous summit ascents. The woodland becomes a snow sports lover’s paradise in the winter, offering chances for ice climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

White Mountain National Forest offers a wealth of outdoor recreational possibilities in addition to being home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, such as moose, black bears, and the elusive Canada lynx. The forest’s terrain is dotted with relics from early villages, logging activities, and Native American occupation, adding to its rich historical background.

6. Bridger-Teton National Forest

The Bridger-Teton National Forest, situated in the western region of Wyoming, covers more than 3.4 million acres of pristine surroundings, positioning it among the biggest national forests in the country. This enormous, untamed area, named for Jim Bridger and the Teton Range, provides unmatched chances for outdoor exploration and adventure.

Towering mountain peaks, vast meadows, and pure alpine lakes, such as the well-known Grand Teton and Wind River ranges, are characteristics of the forest. Numerous outdoor pursuits are available to visitors to the Bridger-Teton National Forest, including hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, and animal viewing. From the deep wildness of the Gros Ventre wilderness to the dramatic gorges of the Snake River, the forest’s vast network of paths offers access to some of the most secluded and spectacular vistas in the American West.

A refuge for nature lovers and wildlife photographers, the Bridger-Teton National Forest is also home to a wide variety of species, such as wolves, elk, bald eagles, and grizzly bears. The forest is also rich in history, with traces of early settlers and fur trappers dispersed throughout its terrain and evidence of Native American occupancy extending back thousands of years.

7. Superior National Forest

The Superior National Forest is a massive, unspoiled wilderness area known for its varied ecosystems, stunning vistas, and abundance of recreational activities. It is located in northern Minnesota and spans over 3.9 million acres. This forest was created in 1909 and is named for the biggest freshwater lake in the United States, Lake Superior, which borders the forest on the north.

Thousands of glistening lakes, rivers, and streams are scattered throughout the dense pine, spruce, and birch woods that make up the forest’s scenery. Famous sites like the Boundary Waters Canoe Region Wilderness, a protected wilderness region well-known for its unmatched canoeing, kayaking, and camping experiences, may be found there. Immerse yourself in the peace and quiet of the Northwoods by camping under the starry sky, portaging between immaculate lakes, and kayaking across crystal-clear waterways.

Many year-round recreational activities are available in the Superior National Forest, including hiking, fishing, birding, and snowmobiling. The woodland turns into a wintry paradise in the winter, drawing ice anglers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers to its immaculate pathways and frozen lakes.

8. White River National Forest

One of the most popular national forests in the country, White River National Forest is a pristine wilderness covering 2.3 million acres and situated in the center of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. It was founded in 1891 and was given its name by the White River, which nourishes the surrounding terrain as it passes through its valleys.

The varied topography of the forest includes roaring rivers, lush woods, and alpine meadows with craggy peaks. Some of the most recognizable mountain ranges in Colorado may be found there, such as the Sawatch Range, the Gore Range, and the Elk Mountains, which are home to majestic peaks like Mount Elbert, the state’s highest point.

Animals such as elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and other bird species find refuge in the forest. Its immaculate lakes and rivers present fantastic fishing possibilities, while its picnic sites and campers offer a tranquil haven amidst the breathtaking Rockies. Inviting people to explore and take in the marvels of nature, White River National Forest is a priceless gem of the Colorado Rockies because of its breathtaking vistas, plethora of animals, and limitless recreational activities.

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9. Cibola National Forest

Central New Mexico’s Cibola National Forest spans more than 1.6 million acres and features a variety of geography, including untamed wilderness areas, wide meadows, and craggy mountains. This vast forest, which was created in 1905, bears the name of the Seven Cities of Cibola, a legendary place that was said to be rich in gold and treasure.

Four ranger districts—Sandia, Mount Taylor, Magdalena, and Mountainair—offer different landscapes and recreational activities inside the forest. Renowned for their breathtaking rock formations and picturesque hiking paths, such as the well-known Sandia Crest Trail, the Sandia Mountains provide a spectacular view of Albuquerque. With its alpine woods and meadows, Mount Taylor, a holy summit for multiple Native American tribes, provides hiking and camping experiences that are unmatched.

The Cibola National Forest offers hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and animal viewing, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore its many ecosystems, which are home to a wide range of plant and animal species, such as golden eagles, black bears, mule deer, and elk.

Apart from its breathtaking scenery, Cibola National Forest has a rich history. It has vestiges of early Spanish villages strewn over its terrain and traces of Native American occupation going back thousands of years. The stunning scenery and rich cultural legacy of Cibola National Forest are likely to enthrall tourists, whether they are looking for adventure or tranquility.

10. Sierra National Forest 

The Sierra National Forest is a treasured destination for both outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, encompassing more than 1.3 million acres of magnificent wilderness. It is situated deep inside the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. The high Sierra Nevada range that dominates its scenery inspired the name of this diversified forest, which was established in 1893.

There are many types of forest landscapes in the area: lush woods of pine, fir, and cedar; rough mountain summits; and deep river valleys. Here are some of the most famous natural sites in California, such as the imposing peaks of the Ansel Adams Wilderness, the crystal-clear waters of the Kings River, and the breathtaking Yosemite Valley.

Year-round outdoor activities are abundant in the Sierra National Forest. Its vast network of trails is open to visitors and is ideal for equestrian riding, hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking. In addition to offering great camping and picnic spots and chances for boating, fishing, and whitewater rafting, the forest’s many lakes and rivers also afford stunning views of the Sierra Nevada.

The forest is a refuge for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers since it is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, such as bald eagles, black bears, mule deer, and mountain lions. Visitors to the Sierra National Forest are bound to be enthralled by its enduring wilderness and natural beauty, regardless of their desire for adventure or quiet.

Also Read: Top 15 Things To Do In California

A Table Comparison of Forest in the United States

Forest NameAreaLocation
Tongass National Forest17 million-acreSoutheast Alaska
Gifford Pinchot National Forest1.3 million-acreWashington
Coconino National Forest1.8 million-acreArizona
Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests1.1 million-acreNorth Carolina
White Mountain National Forest800,000 acreNew Hampshire and Maine
Bridger-Teton National Forest3.4 million-acreWyoming
Superior National Forest3.9 million-acreMinnesota
White River National Forest 2.3 million-acreColorado
Cibola National Forest1.6 million-acreNew Mexico
Sierra National Forest1.3 million-acreCalifornia


The United States is home to an astounding variety of forests, each with its own distinct beauty and fascination, ranging from the old redwoods of California to the untamed mountains of Alaska. These top 10 woods provide countless possibilities to explore, discover, and re-establish a relationship with nature—whether your goal is adventure, solitude, or just a deeper connection with the natural world.


Which American Forests Are the Most Well-known?

The Olympic National Forest in Washington, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina, and the Redwood National and State Parks in California are a few of the most well-known woods in the country.

What Kinds of Wildlife Are There in the Forests of America?

Numerous animal species, such as black bears, deer, elk, wolves, eagles, owls, and several kinds of fish, may be found in American woods.

Which Outdoor Activities Are Offered in US Forests?

Numerous outdoor pursuits, including hiking, camping, fishing, birding, backpacking, skiing, snowboarding, and animal viewing, are available in the American woods.

Which Country Has the Most Forests in the World?

Russia has over 8 million km2 of forest, or about 50% of its total land area. This surpasses the combined land area of all other nations worldwide.

What Is the Largest Jungle in the World?

The largest and most well-known tropical rainforest in the world is the Amazon. The Amazon rainforest is over three times larger than the Congo Basin, which is the second biggest rainforest in the world, when it comes to primary forest extent.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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