9 Most Beautiful Rainforests In The USA You Just Can't Miss

Last Updated on July 19, 2023 by Nikki Jain

One of the true joys of living in the United States is the sheer number of ecosystems our country boasts.

We have looming snow-capped mountains, deserts, plains, fast-flowing rivers, and even rainforests. It is the last one that not many people pay attention to. 

Many Americans (and foreign tourists) aren’t even aware that US rainforests exist. Although, we suppose that is because most people's first thought when they think of rainforests is the likes of the Amazon or the Congo.

However, if you're looking for an awesome trip through a rainforest, you'll find some right here on your doorstep.

On this page, we want to introduce you to some of the most beautiful rainforests in the USA. We have nine of them. All stunning places to walk, explore, or feel at one with nature.

Beautiful Rainforests In The United States

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1: Hoh Rainforest - Olympic National Park, Washington

Hoh Rainforest - Olympic National Park, Washington

The Hoh Rainforest is the largest of the temperate rainforests in the USA, covering a sprawling 24 miles. Sadly, the rainforest used to be so much bigger.

However, commercial exploitation during the late 19th and early 20th century resulted in many of the stunning trees being torn down.

Although thankfully, the area is now legally protected. It will never be as beautiful as it once was, but it is still a stunning location.

Running alongside the Hoh River, the Hoh Rainforest receives over 120 inches of rain annually. This rain gives life to the temperate rainforest, with the Hoh having a large biodiversity.

The most dominant of the trees is the Sitka spruce, although trees such as the big leaf maple, western red cedar, and red alder also contribute to the beauty of the region. You’ll also find plenty of broadleaf plants closer to the ground. 

Animals include the Pacific tree frog, Roosevelt elk, bobcat, cougars, and owls. If you're lucky, you may spot a banana slug.

The Hoh rainforest is one of the only places in the US where it can be found, although, unfortunately, it is in danger of going extinct due to competition with other slugs.

As you can imagine, there are many trails throughout the area. This includes short trails for those that want to explore the rainforest for a day or so, with guided hikes for the more adventurous.

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Also Read: Best Things To Do in Olympic National Park

2: Quinault Rainforest - Olympic National Park, Washington

Quinault Rainforest - Olympic National Park, Washington

Just a short distance from the Hoh Rainforest is the Quinault Rainforest. It sits close to the Quinault River and Lake. It is a considerably smaller rainforest than the Hoh but offers an entirely different experience.

Quinault is home to some of the largest trees in the United States. 16 of the largest tree specimens in the country can be found within the Quinault, which isn’t too bad for a small location.

The large number of ‘tall’ trees has earned Quinault Rainforest the nickname ‘Valley of the Rainforest Giants’.

Quinault gets a lot of rain. It is one of the rainiest US rainforests, with an average of 200 inches of rain falling each year. This isn’t a surprise. Those massive trees need a lot of water to quench their thirst!

Animal species are varied. While animals are broadly the same as those found in the Hoh, this American rainforest also adds bears into the mix.

Quinault Rainforest is easily one of our favorite rainforests to take a trip to. You’ll find multiple lodges around the area, giving you fantastic access to one of the most beautiful rainforests in the USA.

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Also Read: Most Beautiful National Parks in the USA

3: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park - Hawaii

All of the US rainforests in the continental United States are temperate rainforests. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a little different.

It has a tropical rainforest. So, the rainforest found in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is much hotter and more humid than any other rainforest on this list. It is one of the only jungles in USA territory.

As the name suggests, the rainforest can be found close to two volcanoes in Hawaii; Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.

These are both active volcanoes that played an active role in the formation of Hawaii millions and millions of years ago. Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano on the planet (don't worry, you're safe when you are near it!)

The rainforest sees around 100 inches of rainfall per year. One of the wonderful things about any place in Hawaii is its rich biodiversity.

As the Hawaiian Islands are very small, and there are not many routes off of them, there are species of plant and animal here that can't be found anywhere else in the world. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is studied by biologists interested in evolution.

Native species include numerous birds, snails, and fungi. You’ll see chameleons, the Hoary Bat, and maybe even the odd mongoose. The plants are just as varied, with stunning vines, looming native trees, and more.

This park doesn't just offer rainforest, though. There is plenty to explore on a trip. You have your volcanoes and even desert plains, woods, and more.

Any nature lover needs to take a trip to Hawaii at least once. You'll be in awe everywhere you walk in this tropical rainforest in the United States.

Also Read: Best Tropical Destinations in the US

4: Chugach National Forest - Alaska

Chugach National Forest - Alaska

If you head north of the United States, you'll find the Chugach National Forest. It covers a whopping 17,000 miles squared, although only a small strip of that is actual rainforest. The rest is a mixture of glaciers, rivers, and forests.

One of the beautiful things about Chugach National Forest is that the entire area is relatively untouched, although that isn't through a lack of trying.

The area is just far too remote for any commercial activities, so it has never been actively logged, nor are there any roads. It makes it difficult to access, but it is one of the only unspoiled rainforests in the USA.

As you can imagine, the Chugach National Forest gets incredibly cold, so it is no wonder it has been given the nickname ‘sub-polar rainforest’. Not a lot of animals or plants can survive up here.

On the plant front, the Sitka spruce and a couple of hemlock species dominate the skyline. Animals include the wolf, bears, bald eagles, and moose.

The main highlight, however, is the Dall sheep. This is one of the only places in the US where you can easily see them.

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Also Read: Top Alaska Attractions & Things To Do

5: Redwood National Park - California

Redwood National Park - California
Dreamstime/Ethan Daniels

The Redwood National Park is a vast expanse of land, with the rainforest only taking up a small proportion of that. However, Redwood National Park may offer the most famous rainforest of the Americas.

In the heart of the Redwood National Park rainforests, you have the stunning Fern Canyon Loop. It is a very short loop, no more than a mile long. However, the entire route is surrounded by gorgeous, leafy walls.

If you have seen Jurassic Park: The Lost World or Fern Gully (an animated movie), this loop features in the film, hence the fame. Plus, the short route means that it is perfect for a quick day trip.

As you can imagine, most of the rainforest in Redwood National Park is dominated by towering Redwood trees. Although, you’ll also wander through fern-covered canyons every so often.

Along the way, you’ll view stunning streams, wandering elk, and even more beautiful creatures. Redwood National Park is one of the more ‘developed’ rainforests on this page, with multiple ranger huts, bridges, etc. But it never feels anything less than tranquil.

The nearby Pacific Ocean greatly benefits Redwood National Park. The temperature remains fairly consistent throughout the year (between 40F and 60F, with a mild temperature rise in the summer), and over 70" of rain falls on the forest yearly.

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6: Tongass National Forest - Alaska

Tongass National Forest - Alaska
Dreamstime/Jerry Murphy

Tongass National Forest is not only one of the most beautiful rainforests in the USA, but it is the largest and remains mostly untouched, thanks to its remote location.

Tongass National Forest covers an astonishing 26,000 square miles of land; almost all of it is temperate rainforest. This is actually the largest temperate rainforest on the planet.

Since this is in Alaska, not a lot of plants found further south are capable of surviving here. The main trees are the Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and western red cedar.

Although, the remoteness of the Tongass National Forest has ensured that native species, unheard of elsewhere in the US, are able to thrive.

So, if you wander through the area, take a chance to look down at the forest floor. There are some stunning plants.

It isn't just native plants that have thrived in Tongass. You'll also find multiple species of animals, including bears, goats, deer, and wolves. Countless species of fish, including 5 species of salmon, meander through the fast-flowing streams.

While the Tongass National Forest is barely touched by commercial logging operations, it is very touristy. Over 1,000,000 people travel to Tongass each year, so it is quite a tourist hotspot, although many tourists tend to stick to the coast rather than head deep into the forests.

Although, anybody planning on taking a trip here should have no issues finding camping opportunities. You probably won’t want to head here during the winter months.

7: Mount Hood Wilderness - Oregon

Mount Hood Wilderness - Oregon
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

At the base of Mount Hood in Oregon, you’ll find temperate rainforests. If you’re ever planning to traverse Mount Hood, as many people do each year, you’ll find yourself traversing through these rainforests to get to the summit.

Mount Hood Wilderness forests are a right of passage for many multi-week hikers.

The Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) passes right through the area, so in the height of the summer months, you’ll likely find countless people wandering the trails. Most are respectful of the area.

Mount Hood Wilderness is a fairly developed region with multiple manmade trails, ranger stations, and wildlife viewing areas.

A trip to Mount Hood Wilderness will allow you to feast your eyes on salamanders, frogs, toads, chipmunks, bears, mountain lions, foxes, weasels, and more. It offers one of the most biodiverse wildernesses in the US!

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Also Read: Most Beautiful Waterfalls in the USA

8: El Yunque National Forest - Puerto Rico

El Yunque National Forest - Puerto Rico
Dreamstime/Dennis Van De Water

We’re back to the tropical rainforests for this one. The El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest under the United States National Forest system.

The El Yunque National Forest is surrounded by the tree-lined steep slopes of the Sierra de Luqillo mountain range.

El Yunque National Forest is a proper jungle. Over 240 inches of rain falls on the forest each year. This has resulted in lush, dense vegetation, fast-flowing streams, rainforests, and more.

However, a lot of people come here not to experience the natural beauty but to see the remnants of old civilization. Centuries and centuries ago, the forest was the home to the Taino.

They believed this forest was the home of their God, Yucahu. There are various cave paintings depicting him throughout the area, and artifacts are regularly unearthed.

The rainforest is home to hundreds of species of animals and plants. However, the most famous is the Puerto Rico Amazon.

Unfortunately, under 60 of these live in the wild. This means that you’ll rarely see it flying around the area. However, you may see countless other parrots.

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9: North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains - North Carolina

North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains - North Carolina

The Appalachian Mountains are full of rainforests, with the Appalachian Temperature Rainforest sitting in the state of North Carolina.

The climate of this rainforest is very cool, with it rarely breaking 60F, with between 70 and 90 inches of rain falling on the forest throughout the year.

Sitting in the higher parts of the rainforest, you have the Fraser fir and Red spruce, with lower areas adding mountain ash and yellow birch to the mix.

You’ll also find plenty of fruit bushes, including the blackberry and raspberry. It is believed that there are over 2,000 distinct plants in the area, although much of it is undocumented.

On the animal front, amphibians are the main highlight. Although, there are also squirrels (including the flying squirrel), bears, hogs, and deer. 

As the Appalachian Mountains are up there with the most-visited natural locations in the US, there are a lot of tourist activities around the rainforests here, including countless trails, campsites, and more.

FAQs about the US Rainforests

Are there any rainforests in the US?

Yes. There are many rainforests in the United States. You’ll find temperate rainforests in the continental US, with tropical rainforests in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

What is the prettiest rainforest in America?

All of the rainforests in the USA are beautiful, but most recommend the Tongass National Forest in Alaska as it remains relatively unspoiled. 

What is the largest rainforest in North America?

The Tongass National Forest is the largest rainforest in North America.

Why are rainforests so wet and hot?

Not all rainforests are hot. Many temperate rainforests have quite a mild climate. However, they are always wet. Rainforests have heavy vegetation, trapping heat and moisture. It also blocks any breeze or wind, creating a hot, sticky, humid environment.

Wrapping up - Beautiful US Rainforests

If you're looking for stunning rainforests in the USA, any one of the 9 that we included on this list is a great place to start. Not only will these American rainforest options boast plenty of unique plants and wildlife, but they are also accessible. Many have hiking trails (for beginners and experts) and campsites. So, why not take a trip a bit different from usual? Visit a rainforest in the USA!

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