What Are National Forests?

Although America’s National Parks are more well known, the United Stated Forest Service actually manages significantly more acreage. But what is the actual difference between the two? What are national forests actually?

National forests are public land, meaning they are owned by and exist for the American public. They are large tracts of forests managed by the federal government, specifically, by the United States Forest Service.

Although management of the forests has evolved over the lifetime of the Forest Service, the forests are managed for many of the same things they were over 100 years ago. Here are some of the top management priorities for our forests:

  • Timber (for things like lumber and paper)
  • Water (national forests and grasslands provides about 20% of America’s clean water)
  • Wildlife (protecting and managing the ecosystem so plants and animals can thrive)
  • Recreation (fishing, hiking, camping etc.)

For most of the general public (us included), recreation is what draws them to the national forests. The Forest Service manages more than 190 million acres containing 400,000 lakes, 57,000 miles of streams, 9,100 miles of scenic byways 4,300 campgrounds and 158,000 miles of trails.

So what are the national forests? For many people, they’re heaven. From dispersed camping to blue ribbon trout streams, the peaceful getaway you’re looking for can be found in America’s national forests. So browse the blog, see our complete list of national forests or, better yet, go for a hike in one.

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