There is a misconception that rainforests are always tropical and far away. There are actually many right here in the U.S. and they make excellent camping destinations. You can find rainforest camping destinations in the U.S. They are all temperate rainforests, rather than tropical rainforests, to be specific.
Temperate rainforests don’t have the intense heat like a tropical rainforest, but they are just as beautiful. You will encounter a different array of flora and fauna, and can expect milder temperatures. What both climates do share are lush green environments with plenty of water and wildlife, making for excellent scenery on any outing into the wild.
5 Unbeatable American Rainforest Camping Destinations
1. Tongass National Forest, AK
Not only is Tongass National Forest the largest rainforest in the US, it’s the largest national forest in the U.S., and the largest contiguous temperate rainforest in the world. The forest itself is made up of hemlock, Sitka spruce, and cedar trees. There are 13 campgrounds and 450 miles of trail crisscrossing the wilderness, making it an ideal rainforest camping destination.
Try Polk Camp for a private cabin experience on Prince of Wales Island, or make a booking at the Mendenhall Lake campground to check out the wildlife. This campground also offers an ideal locale, where you can try to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
2. Chugach National Forest, AK
Chugach National Forest is another temperate rainforest in Alaska. It is located about 100 miles south of Anchorage. This is the northernmost forest in the United States, where you’ll find streams rushing with trout and salmon, thick foliage, and diverse plant life. If you love fishing and hiking, this is an ideal area to do some rainforest camping.
Camp at Quartz Creek, a first-come, first-serve campground that is only open during the summer months. Beautiful views of the lake and a clean campground make this an appealing option.
3. Hoh Rainforest, WA
Hoh Rainforest gets a whopping 12 to 14 feet of precipitation each year. So, don’t forget to pack a waterproof jacket and boots. Seriously. Green is an understatement in this part of the Pacific Northwest, and that is thanks to all of the rain. Prepare to be blown away by these trees, which can reach heights of 250 feet.
Hoh is part of Olympic National Park, so there are several campgrounds to choose from. Try Hoh Rainforest campground, in the heart of the region where you can soak up that rainforest atmosphere (but hopefully not get soaking wet in the process).
4. Redwood Forest, CA
Famous for the worlds tallest trees, the redwoods, rainforest camping, doesn’t get much better. The famous Redwood Forest is part of the PNW’s old-growth temperate rainforest.
Immerse yourself in the backcountry at Flint Ridge, a free designated campground run by the NPS. There’s a toilet, picnic tables, and bear lockers, but you will need to get a permit from the visitor’s center before visiting. You could also camp at Elk Prairie for access to both the forest and the ocean. Keep an eye out for elk and prepare for your tent to get damp overnight.
5. Appalachian Temperate Rainforest
The Appalachian Temperate Rainforest covers the southern portion of the Appalachian Mountain range, moving through northern Georgia to western North Carolina, and over to the edge of Virginia. The climate in this rainforest camping locale is cool and mild, and the ensuing mist gives it an otherworldly feel. Look out for fir trees and spruce trees as you go up in elevation.
In North Carolina, camp in Gorges State Park and hike up to the waterfalls and scenic overlooks to get views of the rainforest from above. Or go further north to Virginia’s clean and peaceful Gatewood Park or the secluded Boley Field Group Campground at the base of Brush Mountain.
- Lake Catherine State Park, Hot Springs, AR