Forests are the quintessential wild lands. Animals, insects and plants of all kinds live in forested habitats, and some of the most magnificent views in the nation can be found within the pines and leafy trees of our public lands. Among our plentiful National Forests and Grasslands there are a few that stand out as titans. The largest national forests in the U.S. are spread out all along the western half of the country, north to Alaska, and south to Arizona. Diverse populations of animals—including endangered species—live, play and depend on these lands. We invite you to visit the mammoth tracts of land. After all, you’re a co-owner. It’s all yours.
The largest National Forest in the nation and a humongous land area, the Tongass surrounds the Inside Passage. As you explore Southeast Alaska you can see remnants of the vast glaciers that formed much of the North American landscape. At more than 17 million acres, the Tongass is an incredible testament to conservation and nature.
Just outside of Anchorage, the Chugach National Forest is a gem within the National Forest System. At more than 5 million acres, the Chugach would take a lifetime to fully explore! Glacier Ranger District holds the remains of the ice masses that shaped the topography of the North American continent and boasts abundant wildlife—even killer whales! Crow Pass Trail Thru-Hike, Flattop Mountain, Williwaw Lakes and Mount Elliot are among the incredible outdoor opportunities in this region; plus, Prince William Sound backs right up to the Chugach Mountains, making for some epic glacier-hunting and water exploration.
A large swath of land in Nevada and California belongs to the public in the form Humboldt-Toiyabe’s 6.3 million acres. Rest your head on one of the many wonderful campgrounds. Mostly in Nevada, the Humboldt-Toiyabe covers a significant amount of land, and all of it belongs to you! Experience the area overnight with Chris Flat, Buckeye, Mount Rose, and Kit Carson campgrounds in convenient locations to adventure, go for a hike at Hunter Creek, or even spend a day skiing Dunderberg Peak - the tallest point in this massive forest. All the while, keep an eye out for the estimated 80,000 to 100,000 prehistoric and archeological sites!
One of the highlights of the Salmon-Challis is the iconic River of No Return Area-Frank Church Wilderness —the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48! At more than 4.2 million acres in the Salmon-Challis forest alone, you won’t be lacking for places to discover the forest. Looking for adventure ideas in this region? Check out Sunbeam Hot Springs or hike the Middle Fork of the Salmon River Trail to get you going in the right direction.
If you like seeing North American wildlife, camping, and hiking, then look no further than Bridger-Teton. The Bridger-Teton is home to three Wilderness areas (Bridger Wilderness, the Gros Ventre Wilderness and the Teton Wilderness) not to mention 3.4 million miles of national forest. Make sure to bring appropriate gear, and watch out—bears and elk should not be approached!
Looking for escape from the stressors of the modern world? Your troubles won’t follow you to the 3.3 million acres of remote prairies and forested land of Beaverhead-Deerlodge. Hiking is a popular activity because the famous Nez Perce Historic Trail and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail go right through the forest. Make sure to enjoy the fishing at the high-mountain lakes—or a more established one, like Wade Lake.
West of San Carlos and north of Phoenix, the Tonto features some of the most rugged and inherently beautiful land in the country. With nearly 3 million acres of recreational, natural, public land there is always something to do here. Sonoran Desert cacti and flat lands slowly give way to the highlands of the Mogollon Rim, peaking at 7,400 feet! Explore the Tonto by hiking the Black Cross Butte or swimming and cliff-jumping around Bartlett Lake.
Want to learn more about our National Forests? The National Forest Foundation promotes the enhancement and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System. By directly engaging Americans and leveraging private and public funding, the NFF improves forest health and Americans’ outdoor experiences. The NFF’s programs inform millions of Americans about the importance of these treasured landscapes. Each year, the NFF restores fish and wildlife habitat, plants trees in areas affected by fires, insects and disease, improves recreational opportunities, and enables communities to steward their National Forests and Grasslands. Learn more at www.nationalforests.org