Majestically standing the test of time, these natural wonders are the gifts that keep on giving. In all of these pristinely preserved places, you’ll encounter the world’s most amazing trees, and notably, they’re some of the oldest on record.
It goes without saying that trees can live an insanely long time. The longer a forest is left untouched, the more freely it can thrive, and the trees just keep getting stronger. For instance, bristlecone pines are widely considered the oldest of their kind. These adaptable and hardy trees have managed to survive natural disasters that wiped out most everything else. The oldest bristlecone that’s been discovered is estimated to be over 5,000 years old. And there’s nothing else like them anywhere else.
When it comes to visiting ancient destinations, the uniqueness is often the most magical part. So if you’re ready to do some once-in-a-lifetime nature exploring and ancient tree marveling, these are some of the oldest, most breathtaking forests on the planet.
Daintree Rainforest, Australia
There are tons of ancient and amazing forests to explore in Australia, but you’ll frequently find the Daintree Rainforest at the top of the must-see list. The largest tropical rainforest in Australia, this timelessly beautiful forest is believed to be around 180 million years old. And it’s still home to some truly magnificent creatures. So bring those binoculars!
You’ll spot endless species of colorful birds, reptiles, and the occasional marsupial. If you’re a fan of frogs, birds, and bugs, you’re in luck. Apparently, 30 percent of Australia’s frog population reside here, along with “18 percent of all bird species and 65 percent of butterfly and bat species,” and over 12,000 types of insects, per The Environmentor.
Read More: The Most Breathtaking Hikes in Australia
Tongass National Forest, Alaska
Temperate, towering, and remarkably diverse, this vast rain forest in Alaska takes up roughly 17 million acres. On top of its whopping size (which makes up one-third of ALL old-growth temperate rainforests), it’s also one of the most ancient forests on the planet.
Many parts of the Tongass are estimated to be several thousands of years old, with trees averaging 800 years old. As noted by National Geographic, this ancient forest has an “exceptionally rich ecosystem that holds more organic matter – more biomass – per acre than any other, including tropical jungles.”
Waipoua Forest, New Zealand
Like so many ancient forests, the Waipoua was almost completely destroyed after European settlers arrived in the 19th century. Trees were cut down by the thousands and the wood was used for pioneering purposes. But everything changed in 1952.
At that time, Waipoua was declared a sanctuary. It’s been undisturbed by man ever since. Trees like the ancient kauri (estimated to be 2,300 years old) and coniferous trees narrowly escaped mass destruction and potential extinction. Thankfully, they’re still standing and just waiting to be wowed at.
Yakushima Forest, Japan
This lush and temperate rainforest beautifully sprawls across Yakushima Island. A protected world heritage site since the 1930s, Yakushima gives you the opportunity to stumble upon some of the most stunningly diverse flora in existence, so keep your eyes peeled. However, there’s absolutely no overlooking the globally-celebrated ancient trees.
Famed for its Yakusugi trees (sometimes called Japanese cedars), Yakushima’s trees include some that are believed to be even older than the bristlecones, dating back over 7,000 years. Today, Yakushima remains one of the most beloved and abundant forests in all of Japan, and that’s really saying something.
Read More: Japan’s Most Picturesque National Parks
This middle Himalayan mountain range/forest is frequently dubbed one of the best offbeat travel destinations in all of India. Dudhatoli is also home to 5 massive rivers and tons of serene streams, all of which contribute to the lively, flourishing landscape.
A true feast for the senses, “Dudhatoli hosts one of the largest coniferous forests in Uttarakhand including other hilly vegetations such as spruce, deodar, hazelnut and maple,” per Holidify.
Kakamega Forest, Kenya, Africa
Only 90 square miles, the Kakamega Forest is the smallest forest to make the cut, but once upon a time, it was the largest old-growth forest on earth. Due to 40 years’ worth of overusing resources and ongoing destruction, it’s been chopped into a much smaller slice of heaven on earth.
Known as “a canopy of natural beauty,” what’s left standing at this national reserve is nothing short of remarkable. Home to a wide range of monkeys, over 350 species of birds (with 36 of those species only found here), and 700-year-old fig trees, this remnant of a formerly huge tropical rainforest still has a wildly vibrant presence.
Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, U.S.
In the United States, pine forests are all over the place. And it’s easy to get desensitized to pine trees when you see them everywhere. I spent most of my life believing all pines were created equally. They made up so many forests and lined so many interstates. At a glance, they all seemed the same. However, California’s Ancient Bristlecone Forest laid that common misconception to rest.
In Great Basin National Park, you’ll find some of the oldest non-clonal species of trees in existence. Unimaginably sturdy and continuously shaped by the wind, snow, and rain, the bristlecones have been surviving natural disasters since the Ice Age. They’re said to grow slowly and are seemingly indestructible in even the most extreme conditions.
The Methuselah, a mysterious bristlecone, is believed to be the oldest living organism on earth. While you can explore much of these ancient forest grounds, you can’t get close to any Methuselahs. Firmly rooted in an undisclosed location, these natural wonders are protected by the U.S. Forest Service and completely out of human reach.