Did you know that our national forests and grasslands span more than 193 million acres? National forests are one of America’s richest natural resources. With more than 150,000 miles of hiking trails and hundreds of untouched lakes, most national forests are free to access and located near much busier national parks.
If you’re wondering where to travel this summer, we bet a national forest or grassland isn’t far! To make your forest and grassland tour even better, we’re headlining some popular destinations as breathtaking as any national park.
Sierra National Forest (California)
Located near Yosemite National Park, Sierra National Forest is home to five wilderness areas, multiple rivers, and dozens of hiking trails against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Willow Creek Trail is a popular summertime hike through mixed woodlands along the water while the Mono Hot Springs hike is ideal during the cooler months.
Whether you want to spend a day relaxing on the water or you’re ready to plan a technical hike up a mountainside, Sierra National Forest is an incredible way to take in the diverse California landscape without the busy national park crowds.
Superior National Forest (Minnesota)
Spanning three million acres, Superior National Forest is one of the country’s largest national forests. Filled with hiking trails, campsites, and even skiing in the wintertime, Superior is a year-round destination that’s not nearly as busy as nearby national parks.
It’s also home to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that spans 150 miles along the U.S.-Canada border. These glacier-carved waterways are an incredible place to canoe, kayak, and fish. To plan your trip, check out Friends of the Boundary Waters or this USFS Trip Planning Guide.
Pisgah National Forest (North Carolina)
This dense hardwood forest near Great Smoky Mountains National Park led to the creation of the national forests in the eastern United States. Pisgah National Forest was the first tract of land purchased under the Weeks Act of 1911 and has remained a protected public land and historic site ever since. It’s also free to access and open every day of the year.
When you go, we recommend hiking to one of the forest’s 250 natural waterfalls. Summey Cove Trail is an easy 0.3-mile hike to the stunning Courthouse Falls. With a 45-foot drop, these impressive falls fill a picturesque pool that’s popular for summertime swimming.
Thunder Basin National Grassland (Wyoming)
Escape to wide-open spaces at Thunder Basin. This vast grassland seems to stretch into a never-ending open horizon. Located in northeastern Wyoming between the Big Horn Mountains and the Black Forest, Thunder Basin is a beautiful area to hike and animal watch. Visitors commonly see pronghorn antelope, deer, hawks, and eagles.
Thunder Basin is also a great area to camp. Even though there aren’t developed campgrounds, there are designated camping areas. These areas are a serene getaway for those who enjoy quieter campsites.
Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest (Colorado)
If you want to experience the Rockies, visit Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. The forest surrounds popular Rocky Mountain National Park on four sides and gives incredible views of Mount Evans. You can hike the famous 14’er or drive the highest paved road in North America to the top of Mount Evans for some of the best views of the Rockies and nearby Boulder Canyon.
Engage Forest Mode
This summer, we’re in “Forest Mode”! We’re celebrating all 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands with our limited edition NFF x Landmark tee. For every t-shirt sold, 20% of the profit benefits the National Forest Foundation and supports their ongoing conservation efforts.
So grab a tee and hit the road! After all, 7 in 10 Americans live within 100 miles of a national forest. We’re ready to tour the country, snap some photos, and make some memories at our national forests and grasslands.