- Category: Top Picks
Top Forest Destinations
Whether you’re looking for lush coastal evergreens, spicey-sweet pine forests, or deciduous woods that burst with color in the fall, you’ll find the perfect destination on this list. All of these forests offer quiet and tranquility, excellent wildlife viewing, and the special coziness that comes from being in the woods. From coast to coast, here are some of our nation’s best:
These towering, ancient trees grow naturally in circles, creating magical groves throughout their woods. Head to the California redwoods and get to know this unique coastal ecosystem, from the Chinook salmon in the streams to the Roosevelt elk that graze in the meadows. While you’re here, watch for gray whales on the coast, black bears in the forests, and endangered marbled murrelets on the beach.
The Rainforests of the Olympic National Park, Washington
The lush forests in the Quinault, Queets, Hoh, and Bogachiel valleys are some of the most spectacular examples of primeval temperate rain forest in the lower 48 states. These rain forests once stretched from southern Oregon to southeast Alaska, but little remains outside of protected areas. You’ll find Sitka spruce and lacey hemlocks, plus pine and Western red cedar trees, many of which are hundreds of years old.
Aspen Groves in Georgetown and Guanella Pass, Colorado
Long considered to be “talking trees” because of the way their leaves shimmer when the air is still, aspens are some of the prettiest trees in the world. To get a full dose of aspens in their golden fall glory, head to Georgetown, west of Denver on Interstate 7. If you like take a train ride through the mountains, or take a backroad to admire the trees and watch for bighorn sheep. The best fall viewing is at the end of September and beginning of October.
Black Hills, South Dakota
For rolling hills covered with sweet-smelling Ponderosa pines, head to the Black Hills in western South Dakota. Named for the Lakota phrase “paha sapa,” which means “hills that are black,” these pine-covered hills really do appear black with trees from a distance. The Black Hills are famous for their peaceful quality, which as been noted by many visitors, including General George Custer who said a person could find their “soul’s delight” here.
This sprawling coniferous forest spreads from East Texas into Arkansas, western Louisiana, and southern Oklahoma. The woods are filled with a variety of pine species such as the Longleaf Pine, Shortleaf Pine, and Loblolly Pine, plus hardwoods like Hickory and Oak. This forest has been named by the The World Wide Fund for Nature as a critically endangered American ecoregion. In the spring, you’ll see flowering dogwood and redbud trees.