From July 13 through July 19, America is celebrating National Forest Week, from the Chugach National Forest in Alaska to De Soto National Forest in Mississippi. Although the forest is a perfect place to practice social distancing, this year celebrations will also be held in the virtual world.
Celebrations kicked off on Monday and will end on Sunday.
On Wednesday, Forest Supervisor Keenan Adams of Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest will share information about the only tropical rainforest included in the National Forest System. Throughout the rest of the week, there will also be live forest meditations, happy hours, s’mores cook-alongs, and even a chat with Chuck Leavell, a musician who has played with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and the Allman Brothers Band, and an avid forester. Check out the National Forests website for more information on times for each event.
Photographers can also send in submissions for the annual National Forest Week Photo Contest with the theme "Discover Unforgettable Experiences” for a chance to win prizes like an America the Beautiful public lands pass or a gift card to REI. Submissions are open until July 19.
But one of the best ways to celebrate the week is to experience the glory of the U.S. forests in person.
Data from VacationRenter shared with Travel + Leisure shows that rentals near many major forests have seen major increases in the past month, largely due to how coronavirus has led to more local, outdoor vacations. From May to June, bookings near Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee increased 200 percent. Other major forests with booking surges larger than 100 percent included Eldorado National Forest in California, Stanislaus National Forest in California, Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota, and Arapaho National Forest in Colorado.
If you aren’t able to pack up and get to a national forest this week, there’s a digital alternative. Travelers stuck at home can tour some of the most beautiful forests in the U.S. with a new online series from the National Forest Foundation and the PBS travel series Travels with Darley.