Top Rain Forests in the World


Daintree National Park, Australia
This Queensland preserve, the largest rain forest in Australia, is rimmed with white, sandy beaches. The stand is thick with ferns, palms and rare conifers, some of the earliest trees to develop on Earth. Laced with rivers, streams and waterfalls, Daintree is home to more than 400 species of birds.

Tongass National Forest
The nation’s largest national forest covers 17 million acres in southeastern Alaska. First preserved by President Theodore Roosevelt, the temperate rain forest is home to three American Indian nations and 19 designated wilderness areas. Visitors come to see glaciers, eagles and bears. 907-747-6671;

Khao Yai National Park
The third-largest park in Thailand harbors more than 3,000 species of plants and 320 species of birds, plus scores of other animals, including bears, elephants, bats and gibbons. Visitors frequently travel from Bangkok for kayaking, hiking and nighttime wildlife viewing. Many people stay at park lodges and cabins.

Nouabal-Ndoki National Park
Republic of the Congo
Visitors can discover a range of African animals from elephants to gorillas to antelope in this huge park, which has one of the densest animal populations in Africa. The forest covers 1,500 square miles; many parts are largely inaccessible and still unexplored.

El Yunque National Forest
Puerto Rico
The only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System, El Yunque is a true jungle with lush foliage, waterfalls and rivers. Chris Wille, chief of sustainable agriculture for the Rainforest Alliance, calls El Yunque “a full-on rain forest experience. It has a glorious variety of ecosystems, from the towering canopy forest in the lower parts to the highland elfin forest with its bonsai-like plants.” The forest lies on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains and covers 28,000 acres, which makes it the largest block of public land in Puerto Rico. It gets 200 inches of rainfall a year.

Maya Biosphere Reserve
Not only is this 525,000-acre region rich in natural wonders, it’s also home to archaeological treasures like the ruins of Tikal, site of some of the oldest and largest Mayan pyramids. “It’s magical, and besides having all this culture and temples, you can also experience this wonderful environment,” Solano says. The area is a habitat for jaguars, crocodiles and howler monkeys.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve
Costa Rica
Probably the most famous cloud forest in the world, this 26,000-acre Central American preserve harbors reptiles, amphibians and a huge variety of orchids and other plants. “It’s a wonderful rain forest experience. Most of the hotels near the park follow sustainability practices,” Solano says. 866-267-8274;

Yasuní National Park
One of the most biologically diverse places on the planet, this Amazon Basin park has a huge variety of trees, amphibians, birds, bats and other mammals, Solano says. “It’s a conservation hot spot.” It also preserves human diversity with several isolated native tribes. “Some of these communities have never had access to our culture.”

Tambopata National Reserve
This huge rain forest, home to 1,200 species of butterflies, has been threatened by gold mining, Solano says. But the growth of tourism has helped residents see the value in preserving the natural setting, which covers 3.6 million acres. “Very committed businesspeople from the community have been changing minds.”

Hoh Rainforest
Olympic National Park, Washington
One of the country’s best examples of a temperate rain forest, this federally protected site gets up to 170 inches of precipitation a year. The wet conditions promote growth in an area dominated by towering hemlock and Sitka spruce. It’s home to bear, elk, deer and the northern spotted owl. 360-565-3130;

** The USA Today

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