National Forest Foundation

Escape Winter and Head to these Warmer National Forests



Category: Adventures
by Hannah Ettema

Not all National Forests turn into a white “winter wonderland” during the colder months. In fact, many National Forests are the perfect getaway to escape frigid temperatures if a snowy adventure isn’t your favorite.

Angeles National Forest, California

The Angeles National Forest covers 700,000 acres of Southern California and includes more than 500 miles of trails dozens of campgrounds. With elevations in the forest ranging from 1,200 up to more than 10,000 feet, there are still opportunities to see some snow! For a day-hike in both the sunshine and shade, hike to the popular Sturtevant Falls from the Chantry Flat Picnic Area.

Coronado National Forest, Arizona

Head down to southern Arizona for a desert experience on the Coronado National Forest just outside of Tucson. The forest features unique biodiversity of sky island ecosystems as well as incredible landscapes of the Sonoran Desert. Make plans to visit the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area for both short and long hikes as well as an informative visitor center.

Tonto National Forest, Arizona

South of Phoenix, Arizona, the Tonto National Forest covers nearly 3 million acres of the state, making it the fifth-largest National Forest in the country. During the winter, visit the Tonto for the canyons and Sonoran Desert landscapes across the lower elevations of the Forest. For a water adventure, visit Saguaro Lake surrounded by canyon walls and majestic Saguaro cacti.

Gila National Forest, New Mexico

New Mexico’s Gila National Forest includes the first designated Wilderness Area in the country, the Gila Wilderness. For a unique forest experience, visit the Catwalk Recreation Area to walk through the canyon above Whitewater Creek. If you’re up for an overnight trip, stay at the Cosmic Campground International Dark Sky Sanctuary, one of only four certified International Dark Sky Sanctuaries in North America.

Sam Houston National Forest, Texas

Take advantage of the mild southeast Texas climate and visit the Sam Houston National Forest, just 50 miles from Houston. Visitors flock to the 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail that winds through the forest. Enjoy some cooler weather camping at the Double Lake Recreation Area and explore a portion of the Lone Star Hiking Trail.

Photo by Sally Willms

National Forests of Mississippi

The six National Forests of Mississippi cover 1.2 million acres and provide fantastic opportunities for recreation. For some warmer “winter camping”, stay along the banks of the Big Biloxi River at the Big Biloxi Recreation Area. Bring your fishing gear as it’s an excellent place to fish.

Apalachicola National Forest, Florida

The largest National Forest in Florida, the Apalachicola offers both recreational and historical opportunities in the Panhandle. Take a drive on the Apalachee Savannahs Scenic Byway and see sub-tropical grasslands with longleaf pine trees.

Along the Apalachee Savannahs Scenic Byway, Apalachicola National Forest

Photo by: John Keatley /

Francis Marion National Forest, South Carolina

Unlike any other National Forest, the Francis Marion National Forest is home to towering bald cypress trees, four Wilderness Areas and incredible array of plants and wildlife. Walk along the I’on Swamp Interpretive Trail and take in the wetland where you might see, turtles, heron or even an alligator! Explore the short Sewwee Shell Ring Boardwalk, a landscape steeped in history as well as recovery from Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Seewee Shell Ring Boardwalk.

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