Looking for a Mother’s Day Gift? Take Her into the Woods

Robert Westover
Office of Communication, U.S. Forest Service
May 8th, 2013 at 4:15PM

Mt. Saint Helen Mother’s Day is just around the corner and most of us have yet to find that “perfect” gift for mom. But don’t panic. Let the U.S. Forest Service help out.

You read that right. The Forest Service wants you to give mom the gift of nature in all its innate perfection. And all you need to do is take her to your nearest national forest or grasslands.

For instance, if you live in Washington State, the Olympic National Forest, with its dramatic mountain range, conjures up images of the European Alps. The beauty doesn’t end there, though. The Olympics’ varied landscape includes lush rain forests, deep canyons, high mountain ridges and ocean beaches. Taking mom on a drive through this incomparable backdrop would be a scenic tour to brighten her day.

Just south of the Olympic National Forest is the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (named for the founder of the Forest Service). Within the forest is one of the most famous volcanos in the world, Mount St. Helens. A visit to the Forest Service-managed Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument is well worth the trip and will make for a Mother’s Day to remember.

Not all forests are full of trees, though. Some Forest Service land is filled with millions of cacti. So, if you happen to be in Arizona, take mom to the awe inspiring Sabino Canyon on the Coronado National Forest just north of Tucson, Ariz.  (Some of the trail is handicapped accessible.) You’ll want to hike the wonders of the Seven Falls, but mom will have to be a sturdy hiker because the trail is about 8 miles round trip and you’ll have to cross a stream a dozen times as you zigzag through the valley to and from the falls.

But the views are well worth it. Like a giant rock-ribbed cathedral rising up from the valley floor, the canyon suddenly opens up to the vista of the Seven Falls splashing down a natural staircase feature that climbs over a thousand feet directly in front of you.

But if forests and mountains don’t excite mom, don’t forget that the Forest Service manages millions of acres of grasslands in the heart of the ancient prairie lands of the West. From northern Texas to North Dakota, these serene grasslands seem to unfold forever across landscapes uninterrupted by mountain ranges. Aside from taking in the scenic views, you can do many other things on Forest Service grasslands. For instance on the Pawnee National Grassland you can camp, hike, mountain bike, or even go horseback riding.

If you live in North Carolina, visiting the Pisgah National Forest is a must. Surrounding the historic town of Ashville, N.C., and near the cradle of American forestry, the Biltmore Estate, the Pisgah has many fun activities for mom and family. Whitewater runs through the mountains of the forest creating deep river gorges, world-class whitewater, premier trout streams, scenic waterfalls and reservoirs with undeveloped shorelines. For a truly breathtaking experience that she won’t soon forget, take mom to Wilson Creek which offers great adventures for hiking, scenic viewing, mountain biking, fishing, camping, horseback riding and backpacking!

There is just so much you can do on your national forests and grasslands. You might discover taking mom into the woods (or grasslands, or desert) will be something you’ll want to do every Mother’s Day—or any other day of the year!