Top Ten National Forests in the United States

Tongass National Forest, Alaska
By Rene Vasicek

Ninety percent of southeast Alaska falls within the boundaries of the Tongass. The monster national forest is three times larger than the nation's second-largest forest, Alaska's Chugach National Forest. The Tongass is also vaster than any one of America's national parks. Stretching for 500 miles along the coast, the forest encompasses the beguiling karst region of Prince Wales Island, 700 square miles of limestone and marble caverns created by subterranean streams.

On a recent episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, a contestant was asked to identify the state in which the Tongass National Forest is located. He didn't know. It was for $32,000. Don't let this happen to you. Let GORP serve as your lifeline to outdoor adventure.

Just the Facts

Size: 17 million acres

Number of wilderness areas: 19

Length of the Mendenhall Glacier: 12 miles

Features: Watch Alaskan brown bears feed on salmon at the Pack Creek estuary on Admiralty Island. Spelunkers will not want to miss the El Capitan Cave Trail on Prince of Wales Island. Outside the town of Sitka, the waters of Peril Strait lure fishermen for its abundant varieties of salmon, including king, red, chum, silver, and pink. A good place to chill is the Mendenhall Glacier, a river of ice near Juneau that formed about 3,000 years ago.


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