Top Ten Alternative National and State Parks
|Towering pines in the Tongass National Forest (Karen Chen)|
4. Tongass National Forest, Alaska
(Instead of Olympic National Park, Washington)
The lush, spectacular environs of Olympic National Park are simply dwarfed by Tongass National Forest, which covers nearly 17 million acres of Alaska's panhandle in the southeast. The towering forest encompasses a fertile 500-mile coastal strip and more than a thousand islands from north of Juneau to south of Ketchikan. The towering stands of cedar, evergreen, hemlock, and spruce make up roughly one-third of the old-growth temperate rainforest remaining on earth. Hiking in Tongass feels like wandering in an alternate world where oversized ferns blanket the ground, lichen drape the trees, and wildflowers carpet valleys with color. Deer and black, brown, and grizzly bears snack from prodigious blueberry and huckleberry shrubs. Wolves, moose, and mountain goats roam river valleys, muskeg bogs, and glacial plains. Kayaking in Tongass means paddling among spectacular wildlife: Dall sheep and harbor porpoises; humpback, sei, minke, and Pacific killer whales; sea otters; and migrating fur seals.
GORP's Tongass National Forest Guide
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication