America the Beautiful: 14 Spectacular National Forests

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Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah
©Intermountain Region USFS/Flickr, Creative Commons
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White River National Forest in Colorado
©USFS Rocky Mountains/Flickr
Colorado: White River National Forest

White River National Forest is the most visited national forest in the United States. Eight wilderness areas and 10 mountain peaks that are more than 14,000-feet-tall can be found within its 2.3 million acres.

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Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah
©Intermountain Region USFS/Flickr
Utah: Manti-La Sal National Forest

Home to three mountain ranges, Manti-La Sal has more than 5,000 known archaeological sites, including the discovery site of the famous "Huntington Mammoth." The forest provides 85 percent of Utah's coal. 

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Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho/Utah
©Intermountain Region USFS/Flickr
Idaho/Utah: Sawtooth National Forest

Considered the "crown jewel" of Idaho, Sawtooth National Forest has 400 alpine lakes that dot its rocky terrain. The wilderness area is characterized by high granite peaks and narrow glacial valleys. 

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White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire
©USDA Forest Service/Flickr
New Hampshire: White Mountain National Forest

White Mountain National Forest's scenery ranges from hardwood forests to alpine peaks. Historical remnants such as stone walls and cellar holes are evidence of early farmers who lived and worked in the forest.

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Tahoe National Forest in California
©USFS Region 5/Flickr
California: Tahoe National Forest

Scenic vistas, hidden waterfalls and wildflower-laden meadows are encompassed within Tahoe National Forest. Come winter, it's a playground with well-trod cross-country skiing and snowmobiling trails. 

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Tongass National Forest in Alaska
©USDA Forest Service Alaska Region 10/Flickr
Alaska: Tongass National Forest

Tongass is the nation's largest national forest, with almost six million acres of wilderness. Wildlife viewing is a given here—there are five designated bear viewing areas alone.

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Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon
©Forest Service Pacific Northwest/Flickr
Oregon: Siuslaw National Forest

Siuslaw National Forest stretches from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the coastal mountains' peaks. Discover extensive sand flats, three forests with differing tree life and the nation's first Scenic Research Area here.

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Superior National Forest in Minnesota
©Mr. Moment/Flickr, Creative Commons
Minnesota: Superior National Forest

Known for its clean lakes, Superior National Forest has 1,500 miles of canoe routes. Walleye, pike, trout and bass teem in the 445,000 acres of the forest's surface water.

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Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington
©Forest Service Pacific Northwest/Flickr
Washington: Gifford Pinchot National Forest

One of America's oldest national forests, Gifford Pinchot is rife with waterfalls, valleys, forests and mountains. It is also home to Mount Saint Helens

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Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming
©Intermountain Region USFS/Flickr
Wyoming: Bridger-Teton National Forest

Bridger-Teton is part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. It has thousands of miles of rivers and streams; the Upper Snake River is marked by crystal-clear waters, unique geology and its diverse varieties of wildlife. 

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Pisgah National Forest
©USDA Forest Service/Flickr
North Carolina: Pisgah National Forest

Full of scenic rivers and byways, the Pisgah National Forest is the birthplace of forestry in America. It is home to the first tract of land purchased under the Weeks Act, which led to the creation of national forests in the eastern United States. 

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Coconino National Forest in Arizona
©Southwestern Region, USDA Forest Service/Flickr
Arizona: Coconino National Forest

Coconino is one of the nation's most diverse national forests. Discover red rocks, Ponderosa pine forests, desert and alpine tundra here; the Peaks Loop takes you all the way around Arizona's highest mountain. 

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Custer Gallatin National Forest in Montana
©Forest Service Northern Region/Flickr
Montana: Custer Gallatin National Forest

Stretching across southeastern Montana and into northwestern South Dakota, Custer Gallatin National Forest's landscape is ecologically diverse. Its rugged Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness contains Montana's highest peak.

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Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho
©Intermountain Region USFS/Flickr
Idaho: Salmon-Challis National Forest

Salmon-Challis' Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area is the largest contiguous wilderness area in the continental U.S. The Salmon River, which flows through it, was one of the original eight designated as Wild and Scenic in 1968.

By Jennifer McKee

Whether comprised of alpine lakes, hardwood forests, desert fauna, waterfalls, sands flats—or more than one of the aforementioned—America's national forests are nothing short of stunning. Opportunities for wildlife viewing and recreation abound: get to know these forests like you've never seen them before.

Jennifer McKee
About the author

Jennifer is the Managing Editor of Morris Visitor Publications, where she has worked since 2005. She grew up in small...