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Jonathan Stull | 07.24.2017

In 1891, Congress passed into law the Forest Reserve Act, which allowed the president to withdraw land from the public domain into the protection of the developing and nearly formed Forest Service. Today, more than 188 million acres of the nation’s forests are held in the public trust for, as expressed in the words of Gifford Pinchot, “the art of producing from the forest whatever it can yield for the service of man.”

For this installment of the #52WeekAdventureChallenge, we bring to you our celebration of the nation’s forests. For us, these places of pine and oak are far more than federally managed reserves of timber and resources. They are the biggest resource for recreation that we have.

Enclosed by our national forests are many of the greatest natural spectacles on the North American continent: Yosemite, Tahoe, and the entire Sierra Nevada; Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, the Enchantments, and the Cascade Range from north to south; the Sawtooths, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, the Colorado Front Range, and much of the Rocky Mountains; the Wasatch Front, and much of Utah’s “Big Five” national parks; the Appalachian Mountains and the Ozarks. The Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Continental Divide all pass through vast tracts of national forest land.

There is a national forest in all but 10 states, and a total of 154 protected areas. These places are special because they offer the outdoor recreationist a wide-open expanse to call their own—often without significant regulation or cost. Visitors are free to camp wherever they like on national forest land with few exceptions, as long as they follow the principles of Leave No Trace. Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, and more can be enjoyed on national forest land at little to no cost.

Cost-free to explore, our national forests demonstrate a great diversity of federal land from the dry, desert juniper forests of the Southwest to the dense, temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula and the broadleaf forests of maple and oak that sheathe the Appalachians in a coat of vibrant colors each fall. This week, find your place in one of our national forests.

Read more about our national forests:

Tonto and Kaibab national forests

Sierra, Inyo, Plumas, and Stanislaus national forests

Willamette and Mount Hood national forests

Gifford Pinchot, Okanogan-Wenatchee and Olympic national forests

Sawtooth National Forest

Flathead National Forest

Bridger-Teton National Forest

Arapaho, Roosevelt, Pike, San Isabel, San Juan, and Gunnison national forests

White Mountain National Forest

Nantahala, Pisgah, and Cherokee national forests

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