Visit Destinations

Your national forests and grasslands are 193 million acres of vast, scenic beauty waiting for you to discover. Visitors who choose to recreate on these public lands find more than 150,000 miles of trails, 10,000 developed recreation sites, 57,000 miles of streams, 122 alpine ski areas, 338,000 heritage sites, and specially designated sites that include 9,100 miles of byways, 22 recreation areas, 11 scenic areas, 439 wilderness areas, 122 wild and scenic rivers, nine monuments, and one preserve. And remember, “It’s All Yours.”

Rec Area Description Status

Trailhead with turn around parking area for trucks and trailers, with atv loading and unloading ramps.

Channel Marker Campsite on Grand Island

Grand Island, a Congressionally designated National Recreation Area (NRA), boasts massive 300-foot wave-cut sandstone cliffs; 13,500 acres of lush forest; beaches of fine sand; winter ice caves; and historic buildings and artifacts dating back as far as 2,000 BC, to name just a few of its highlights! The island's scenic natural beauty and interesting history make it an attractive place for camping and other outdoor activities.

This site is hike in, bike in or boat in only. Public vehicles are not allowed on the Island. This campsite is located on the southwest tip of Grand Island near Merchandise Beach. The site is in close proximity (1/2 mile) to William's Landing (ferry service arrival point, water, and visitor information center). The site can accommodate up to 6 people. A primitive latrine, food storage pole, fire ring and benches are provided in/near the campsite. Channel Marker can be accessed either by the island's trail system or by water. Kayakers can access this site via the unnamed beach approximately 0.5 mile west of William's Landing. Leave your kayak on the beach, and walk approximately 100 ft. inland to the campsite.

Drinking water is available at Williams Landing, Juniper Flats, Farrell Cottage and Murray Bay Day Use Area. If traveling elsewhere on the island, bring water with you or filter/boil/treat surface water. Keep soaps and detergents out of lakes and streams. Wash dishes and clothes in a pot and dispose of the waste water in a hole at least 100 feet from the nearest water supply. Bathe in a similar manner.

There are no supplies available on the Island.  There are also no trash cans on the Island. Be prepared to pack in and pack out everything you need.

Black bears live on this island. Information is available at the Ranger District on how to prevent and survive bear encounters. Be prepared to store your food and all consumable and scented items, including trash, on the bear pole at the site. Never leave food unattended in campsite.

The mosquitoes and black flies can be very bad from Mid-May to mid-July. Be sure to bring plenty of insect repellant and even a head net during those months. Avoid climbing on or standing along the sandstone cliffs. The sandstone is very fragile and may not support your weight.

Charles E. Bessey Tree Nursery

The Charles E. Bessey Nursery, adjacent to the Bessey Recreation Complex, was established in 1902 as part of the Dismal River Forest Reserve. It is the oldest seedling nursery managed by the USDA Forest Service. The Nursery was established to produce the tree seedlings used to create the "World's Largest Man-Made Forest", the adjacent Bessey Ranger District.

The Nursery and Ranger District were named in honor of Charles E. Bessey, a professor of botany at the University of Nebraska who envisioned a forest growing on the wide-open Sandhills of Nebraska. The Nursery is located about one mile west of Halsey, Nebraska near the geographic center of the state. The area is characterized by rolling sand dunes covered with grasses. The primary agricultural commodities in the area are cattle and hay. Water is plentiful. The sandy soil and plentiful water supply provide the Nursery with an ideal medium for growing seedlings.

Please call the nursery to learn how to schedule a tour.

Cheoah River Area

The Cheoah River, located near Robbinsville, NC, is a nine-mile section of waterway between the Santeetlah Dam and Lake Calderwood. Typical water flows average 250 cubic feet per second (cfs), but approximately 20 times per year Brookfield Renewable Resources, Inc. releases water from the dam to mimic natural flood events to benefit a variety of endangered and threatened species that live in the river ecosystem. A secondary benefit of these releases is the recreational opportunity created by the release of approximately 1000 cfs of water, resulting in a Class IV-V whitewater run while water is being released. The US Forest Service currently permits three authorized outfitters to provide rafting opportunities during river releases, and many private boaters also use the river during these releases. 

There is one primary put-in access site, two secondary access sites, and a river takeout site located at Magazine Branch on Calderwood Lake. The Cheoah River is unusual for rivers of its volume in the Southeast in that its gradient is relatively constant. This means that it is unusually continuous, more so than anything else with a similar volume of water in the Southeast. It is a whitewater run that should only be attempted by advanced to expert paddlers with the proper safety equipment and watercraft with a minimum of four internal air chambers or hard bottom canoes or kayaks, and only after careful consideration of all river hazards. The Cheoah River is one of the most difficult, technical rivers in the Southeast during high flow events. The rapids are large and continuous, with numerous hydraulics, rock ledges, vegetation, and other river features that can make self-rescue and extraction difficult. Do not attempt to float the Cheoah River during high flow release events unless you possess expert boating skills, are experienced in self-rescue in Class IV-V whitewater and using the proper gear and safety equipment, and only after a careful analysis of the river features and your own personal skill level.

Fishing on the Cheoah River is considered excellent for smallmouth bass by either fly-fishing or spinning reel with light tackle. The Cheoah River also offers brook trout, rainbow trout, and largemouth bass. Hiking trails in the vicinity include the Appalachian Trail, Benton MacKaye Trail, and numerous hiking trails in the nearby Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness. The Tapoco Lodge, built in 1930 by the Aluminum Company of America as part of hydroelectric efforts in Graham and Swain counties of North Carolina, is located on the banks of Cheoah River. 

Additional information regarding Cheoah River high flow events can be found on the Brookfield Renewable Resources, Inc. website

Cherohala Skyway Area


Chetco River

Chetco RiverThe Omnibus Oregon Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1988 designated 44.5 miles of the Chetco River as Wild & Scenic, from its headwaters in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness down to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest boundary just above Loeb State Park. The designated segment of the Chetco is located within Curry County in southwest Oregon on the Gold Beach Ranger District. The Chetco Wild & Scenic River is divided into three segments:


  • The 27.5-mile Wild segment from the headwaters down to Mislatnah Creek;
  • The 8.0-mile Scenic segment from Mislatnah Creek down to Eagle Creek; and
  • The 11.0-mile Recreational segment from Eagle Creek down to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest boundary.

The head of the Chetco River is in the steep, deeply dissected, sparsely vegetated, mountainous terrain of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Over its 55.5 mile length, the Chetco River drops from 3700 feet to sea-level as it empties into the Pacific Ocean between the towns of Brookings and Harbor, about 5 miles north of the California border. In the upper section, the river floor is fairly narrow and boulder-strewn with numerous falls and rapids. As the river leaves the wilderness, its character gradually changes. The terrain gradually tempers its rugged steepness, the river gradient gradually lessens, the river bottom widens, and the surrounding hills become more densely forested. The river narrows in several areas, crossing through rock outcrops and leaving enormous boulders in the riverbed. The Chetco River Gorge, just below Steel Bridge, contains steep sides and unusual rock formations. Below this, the Chetco River continues to widen, the water slows dramatically, and sand and gravel bars and raised river terraces become more common.

The Chetco River receives healthy runs of winter steelhead exceeding 20 pounds and fall Chinook salmon exceeding 50 pounds. Licensed fishing and rafting guides and shuttle services are available to float this section on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The river fishes well when flows are between 2,000 and 4,000 cubic feet/second (cfs) and the levels are receding. Side-drifting for winter steelhead and back-bouncing for Chinook salmon are preferred methods of fishing this stream, although other tactics will catch fish.

Water Quality

 The Chetco River has three Outstandingly Remarkable Values: Recreation, Fisheries, and Water Quality.  Th e Water Quality, in particular, is a spectacular quality of this river, and was selected as an Outstandingly Remarkable Value based on its striking color and clarity, its ability to clear quickly following storm events, its contribution to both recreation and fisheries, and its contribution of exceptionally pure and clean water for the domestic water supplies of both Brookings and Harbor.

Chimney Rock National Monument

On Sept. 21, 2012, President Barack Obama designated the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area as  America’s 103rd national monument—the seventh to be managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Covering 4,726 acres of the San Juan National Forest between Pagosa Springs and Durango, Colo., the Chimney Rock National Monument is a significant archaeological, cultural, geological and biological site.

Home to Ancient Pueblo Indians

Surrounded by the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, the site holds great significance for the Native American tribes of southwestern Colorado and neighboring states. The site was once home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians, who built more than 200 homes and ceremonial buildings high above the valley floor more than 1,000 years ago. Archaeologists believe that the site marks a connection to the Chacoan society who inhabited Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico.

The area has 118 known archaeological sites, including the dramatic Great House Pueblo which likely was used as an observatory for the annual summer solstice. Other features include the Great Kiva, which was likely used for religious ceremonies and community activities; storage rooms; and residential pit houses.

Contrasting Geology

The dramatic geology of the monument stands in stark contrast to the majestic Ponderosa Pine forest and rolling savannah-like plains along the valley floor.  The Piedra River cuts along the edge of Peterson Mesa in the northern portion of the monument. Steep cliffs and expanses of exposed sandstone and shale are evidence of the geologic era. 

Clear Lake Butte Lookout

Of the nine peaks in Oregon’s Cascade Range, Mount Hood stands the tallest at 11,239 feet, thickly forested and capped with glaciers and snow. Clear Lake Lookout, perched on the mountain’s side near the northwest corner of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, offers winter sports enthusiasts a tranquil, remote spot to spend the night amongst the tall timbers. It is ideally situated between Mount Hood to the north and Mount Jefferson to the south. 

It is one of several Forest Service watchtowers on Mt. Hood and it is still used to spot fires during summertime each year. Read more information about fire lookout tower rentals in Oregon and Washington.

The original lookout was built by the Forest Service in 1932, and was on a 100 foot tower. In 1962 it was replaced with the present lookout. The lookout is an "R-6 Flat Top" style cabin, a design introduced in 1953 as the last generation of fire lookouts in the region. The design, which includes a flat, tarred roof, originated in the Pacific Northwest and was designed to alleviate costs and hazards associated with re shingling the roofs typical of earlier style lookouts. Window shutters, a feature of earlier lookouts, were eliminated in this new design, and an extra foot of dimension added over previous lookouts (15 x 15 ft.). These newer lookouts used plywood as a construction element, another new feature.

Continental Divide

Continental Divide landscape


This geographic area is the scenic backdrop and primary recreational resource for Montana’s capital city, Helena. It also includes the smaller communities of Austin, Rimini, and Unionville. Portions of the geographic area are in the political geographies of Lewis and Clark, Powell, and Jefferson counties. The spine of the divide is higher, cooler, wetter, and more exposed, imbuing it with a unique microclimate. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail follows the crest of the divide.

More information on the Continental Divide landscape



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