I wasn't sure I would be posting here anymore, but I've been working on a project for the US Forest Service to rewrite campground and cabin descriptions for recreation.gov, and I'm learning a lot from it. For me, national forests were always places I drove through on my way to somewhere else. (This seems particularly true of our trip from Seattle to Travis Air Force Base in California last summer, when we were driving through national forests for nearly our entire time in Oregon.) Oh sure, we might have stopped at a scenic overlook here and there, but we never stayed.
This project opened my eyes and allowed me to see that they are worthy destinations in and of themselves.
I've written about campgrounds in Gifford Pinchot (Washington), Shasta-Trinity (California) and a variety of other places - mostly in the west. And now I'm working on cabins, fire lookouts and historic ranger and guard stations that have been converted into recreation rentals. Some of these places, while primitive, offer phenomenal views. Look up Girard Ridge Lookout in Shasta-Trinity or Deadwood Lookout in Boise National Forest, and you'll see what I mean. Who wouldn't want to wake up on top of the world? (Unless, of course, you're afraid of heights.)
I'm getting ideas for my own travels. Now that we're on the East Coast, we'd like to see the fall foliage in New England. I know that White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire is one of the best places in the US for that, specifically the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. I wrote about a rental cabin there.
And I've been researching some national forests a little closer to home. There are none in Maryland, sadly, but there's always Virginia.
Our national forests have a lot to offer in both beauty and recreation. National parks too, of course - recreation.gov covers more than just national forests.
If you're not already booking through recreation.gov, I highly encourage you to do so. Your accommodations can be as primitive or as modern as you want them to be. There is something for everyone.