Thinking of new outdoor places to discover when life goes back to normal and social distancing isn’t a thing? Most likely, there is a national forest waiting to be explored not that far from you. In fact, there are 154 national forests in 41 states across the country, meaning seven in ten Americans live within a two-hour drive of these incredible public lands and resources.
For this week’s “10s on Tuesday”, here are 10 national forests to add to your outdoor mecca bucket list.
The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest's spectacular 6.3 million acres makes it the largest national forest in the lower 48 states. Located in Nevada and a small portion of eastern California, the forest offers year-round recreation of all types and manages 18 designated wilderness areas.
The Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF) are a set of three jointly administered national forests located mostly in the state of Idaho with small areas extending into eastern Washington and western Montana. Vast lakes and miles of rivers support a world-class fishery. Rich in wildlife, the forest is home to large game such as elk and deer, as well as species such as grizzly bears, wolves, and caribou.
Established in 1909, Superior National Forest is known for its boreal forest ecosystem, numerous clean lakes, and a colorful cultural history. The majority of the forest is multiple-use, including both logging and recreational activities such as camping, boating, and fishing. Slightly over a quarter of the forest (one million-acre) is set aside as a wilderness reserve known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area where canoers can travel along interconnected fresh waters.
Tongass National Forest is the nation’s largest national forest at 16.7 million acres and covers most of Southeast Alaska, surrounding the famous Inside Passage and offers unique chances to view eagles, bears, spawning salmon, and the breath-taking vistas of “wild” Alaska.
The Gila National Forest manages 3.3 million acres of forested hills, majestic mountains, and range land - making it the sixth largest National Forest in the continental United States. It is probably best known for its wilderness areas, in particular the Gila Wilderness - the first Congressionally designated wilderness in the United States.
The Salmon-Challis National Forest covers over 4.3 million acres in east-central Idaho. Included within the boundaries of the forest is 1.3 million acres of the Frank Church-- River of No Return Wilderness Area, the largest contiguous wilderness area in the Continental United States. Borah Peak, the tallest mountain in Idaho, is also found here.
Monongahela National Forest provides visitors with scenic vistas, country roads, flowing streams and abundant plant and animal life. It was established in 1920 and encompasses one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the United States. Recreation opportunities include day hikes, rock climbing, camping, hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
The Ocala National Forest, located north of Orlando, is the southernmost forest in the continental United States and protects the world's largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest. The forest has more than 600 lakes, rivers and springs, including three first-magnitude springs where visitors can swim, snorkel and dive in crystalline waters year round.
The Tonto National Forest, outside of Phoenix, AZ, embraces almost 3 million acres of spectacularly beautiful country, ranging from Saguaro cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains. This variety in vegetation and range in altitude offers recreational opportunities throughout the year, whether it's lake beaches or cool pine forest. As the fifth largest forest in the United States, Tonto is one of the most-visited “urban” forests in the U.S. (approximately 5.8 million visitors annually).
Named by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 but officially merged in 1996, this 3.3 million-acre forest hosts numerous ghost towns which serve as reminders of the region’s mining history. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and the Nez Perce National Historical Trail both pass through sections of the forest. In total, there are over 1,500 miles of hiking trails, 50 campgrounds, dozens of lake and river boating access points and even 250 miles of groomed snowmobile trails.
Photos all courtesy of the USDA Forest Service
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 27, 2020
Media Contact: Olwen Pongrace at email@example.com or 202.253.3190
NATIONAL PARK TRUST INTRODUCES SERIES OF ‘GRAB AND GO’ OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES
ROCKVILLE, MD –To help parents who are entertaining and schooling their children at home during this time of school closure and social distancing, National Park Trust has launched a “Grab and Go” series of at-home activities and distance learning opportunities that bring parks to kids.
Fun, educational activity sheets can be downloaded and completed without leaving your neighborhood or backyard.
Activities in the first volume of the series include making a nature collage, creating a leaf or bark rubbing, listening to nature, a backyard scavenger hunt, and becoming a scientist by discovering items from nature and taking a closer look. New activities will be released in the coming weeks and can be found on www.parktrust.org.
“We want to provide easy, fun and educational resources for parents who are searching for activities that bring parks to kids and educate them while practicing social distancing,” said Grace Lee, executive director, National Park Trust. “We hope this program will help kids stay connected with the outdoors as more and more learning is happening in front of a screen.”
For more information, please visit: www.parktrust.org
ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST
National Park Trust is a non-profit dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. The Park Trust is the only land trust with a comprehensive mission of protecting national parks through land acquisition and creating a pipeline of future park stewards by getting kids to parks. Since 1983, the Park Trust has completed 73 land projects in 31 states, one U.S. Territory, and Washington, D.C. This school year, the Park Trust will provide 20,000 children with park trips through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools in under-served communities. Find out more about Kids to Parks Day at kidstoparks.org.
As we all know, the COVID-19 virus has impacted everyone in our country and many more globally. It has also impacted the thousands of children, teachers, and families whom we support across the country as well as our beloved national parks.
As the executive director of National Park Trust and the spouse of a cardiologist, I’ve been uplifted by so many stories that exemplify the extraordinary compassion, dedication, and generosity of neighbors, friends, family, and colleagues.
To our many partners and donors, thank you for your wonderful support for our mission and programs. During these challenging times, please know that we are taking careful steps to ensure that your gifts are being spent wisely, where the need is greatest.
As we experience social isolation, there has been a heightened awareness of how much we value our precious parks and public lands and waters. We miss them too!
Our staff has been reaching out to our nearly 300 partner schools in under-served communities and reassuring them that we will fund their students’ trips to parks after the current situation improves.
Finally, because we know that parents are looking for ways to educate and entertain their children at home, we are now sending special editions of our monthly newsletter that will be full of free downloadable resources to help bring our parks to your kids. Feel free to share this information with others and encourage them to join our newsletter list.
Please stay connected with us during this challenging time. We hope you and your family stay healthy and well.
Thank you National Park Service for these important and relevant reminders on how to stay healthy in the coming weeks.