When most people think travel, they envision what city they’ll visit next. But if you’re the outdoorsy and adventurous type, you probably picture new trails to backpack, national parks to camp within and forests to admire. Here are four North American forests to add to your bucket list.
California: Redwood National and State Parks
Crucial gear item: comfortable and supportive hiking boots
In Northern California, just below the Oregon border, national and state parks are home to the tallest trees in the world, Redwoods. In addition to these behemoth creatures, which exceed 350 feet, the parks house a diverse group of wildlife and expose you to an integral part of the northern California culture. Being right next to the Pacific Ocean means winters are mild and summers are cool, so in theory, the Redwood forests are open to visitation any time of the year. The parks offer guided nature hikes through the redwoods, as well as the tidepools, which are located on the coast. In addition, visitor centers introduce history, ecology and culture of the parks.
Washington: North Cascades National Park
Crucial gear item: quality, durable pair of waterproof and windproof rain gear
If you’re looking for a forest that offers a variety of outdoor activities surrounded by over 300 glaciers, home to 200 bird and 75 mammal species, the North Cascades is the place for you. There are miles of hiking trails that vary in length and difficulty with opportunities for bird and wildlife viewing — you may even be lucky enough to spot a wolverine. With the numerous lakes and cascading waters, visitors can enjoy fishing or get wild rafting down a river.
Minnesota: Superior National Forest
Crucial gear item: layers to keep you warm during winter visits
A great spot in summer months, Minnesota’s Superior National Forest is home to the 1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This boreal forest ecosystem gives you a glimpse of Canadian landscapes while witnessing the transition between pine hardwoods and boreal forests among scattered pristine lakes. In the summer, the forest is great for hiking, camping, fishing and hunting, where you’ll find waterfowl, white-tailed deer, moose and black bears. In the winter, the forest offers snowmobiling routes, cross country skiing and ice fishing.
Florida: Big Cypress National Preserve
Crucial gear item: waders for trekking through high waters
Explore closer to the equator with one of the first national preserves in the United States National Park System, the subtropical forests of the Big Cypress National Preserve. Part of the terrestrial Everglades, the forest is overflowing with unique and exotic flora and fauna alike. This is a great place for reptile enthusiasts, with numerous venomous snakes to be on the lookout for, including the cottonmouth and eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, not to mention larger reptiles like alligators. Spot out the elusive Florida panther or black bear, or even a sighting of the endangered West Indian manatee. With 12 campgrounds that cater specifically to motor vehicles, Big Cypress is great for RVs and car camping. Unlike forests up north, Big Cypress offers ideal hiking conditions and opportunities during winter months, but prepare to get your feet wet as you may have to wade through certain areas of the park.