Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington

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Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Reshaped by Mount St. Helens’ dramatic 1980s volcanic activity, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest—one of the U.S.’s oldest National Forests—retains the historical and natural charm that attracts millions of global travelers each year.

  • Gigantic Gifford Pinchot National Forest covers more than 1.3 million acres in southwestern Washington State.
  • Access the national forest via Highway 14 on the north bank of the Columbia.
  • The Mount St. Helens Volcanic Monument forms one of the area highlights.

Overview

Covering more than 1.3 million acres in southwestern Washington State, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest was one of the first to receive National Forest designation (1908). This huge forest region is home to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument named in 1982. That volcano’s eruption in 1980 changed Northwestern history and altered the landscape for a 100-mile radius. Today, the monument hosts millions of visitors hungry for a taste of the area’s geologic, archeological, natural, and recreational wonders.

The vast Gifford Pinchot National Forest (named for the first Chief of the Forest Service) has much to offer: wild and scenic rivers, panoramic views, wildlife (including many rare and threatened species), camping, fishing, and game hunting abound in this Washington region.

Location & Information

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest covers more than 1.3 million acres stretching across southwestern Washington. The forest area can be reached easily via Highway 14 (the Lewis and Clark Highway) which runs along the Columbia River Gorge’s northern bank.

Contact the Gifford Pinchot National Forest Service at (360) 891-5000.

Activities

  • Dark Divide Roadless Area, comprising amazing geologic formations and native mountain plant life, provides fantastic vistas.
  • 4,390-foot Silver Star Mountain can be climbed via the Bluff Mountain Trail.
  • Take the Trail of Two Forests, ¼ mile through a Mount St. Helens lava tree cast area.
  • Visit the Mount St. Helens Volcanic Monument for a variety of tours, hikes, museums, and points of interest.
  • Ape Cave, the longest known lava tube in the contiguous U.S.
  • Sample the many edible wild berries scattered in patches around the National Forest meadows.

Fun Facts

The history of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is being investigated ongoing by archeologists, whose digs in the area constantly turn up new information about the lives of the early Native Americans who lived there.