11 real-world forests that look like they’re straight out of a fairytale.

Forests are downright magical.

They're where some of our favorite fables take a twist, where Mother Nature hides her most fascinating creatures, where we go to escape the manmade chaos that consumes far too much of our time.

Forests are the lungs of our world, absorbing carbon and keeping our climates stable, and the protectors of some of our most precious resources. They safeguard habitats and wildlife that allow life to move onward and even make us healthier, too; trees clean our air, lower our stress, and can actually make us happier just by being nearby. They're spectacular.


But some forests, you might argue, are just a bit more spectacular than others.

Here are 11 otherworldly forests to remind you just how incredible life on Earth really is:

1. Bamboo Forest, Japan

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images.

The Sagano Bamboo Forest on the outskirts of bustling Kyoto is famous for its towering green stalks that make enchanting rustling noises in the breeze you really can't hear anywhere else. Japan's Ministry of Environment included the destination on its "100 Soundscapes of Japan" list, encouraging visitors to find some much needed tranquility by listening to the natural sound effects.

2. Otzarreta Forest, Spain

Photo via iStock.

Foggy and tucked away, the Otzarreta Forest in Basque Country flaunts some of the quirkiest trees and branches you'll see on Earth (not to mention the most gorgeous fall colors, if you time it right). Northern Spain never looked so enticing.

3.  The Blue Forest, Belgium

Photo by John Thys/AFP/Getty Images.

Hallerbos, dubbed "The Blue Forest," covers hundreds of acres in Halle. Come mid-April, the entire region blossoms with a bright underbelly of bluebells, so the forest certainly lives up to its name. See the bluebells quick, though — they die in early summer, and the forest fades back into shades of greens and browns.

4. Redwood National Park, United States

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Redwood National Park stretches alongside the northern coast of California and boasts some of the tallest, most massive trees on the planet. Its trees can live to be — get this — some 2,000 years old, sprouting from seeds that are about the same size as one from a tomato.

5. The Black Forest, Germany

Photo by Arne Dedert/AFP/Getty Images.

In the hilly southwest corner of Germany, the sprawling Black Forest covers an area nearly 100 miles north to south. Its landscapes shift hues depending on the season — Germans know the frustration and beauty that come with a bitter, dreary winter better than anyone, after all — and its pines can be so dense in certain areas that sunlight can't break through to reach the forest floor. (Which is how it got its name. Get it?)

6. Amazon rainforest, Brazil

Photo by Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images.

News flash: The Amazon Rainforest is massive. Stretching nearly from coast to coast along the northern half of South America, the Amazon holds an abundance of life like no other place. It has 390 billion trees and 2.5 million various insects, which is one of the many reasons why it's so crucial we protect it from deforestation.

7. Jiuzhaigou, China

Image via iStock.

The Jiuzhaigou takes over a vast region of Sichuan province and boasts everything from towering alpine mountains and waterfalls to pools of purplish, teal waters and coniferous trees. Maybe shoot the next "Avatar" here? (See No. 11.)

8. The Daintree Rainforest, Australia

Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.

The Daintree Rainforest off the coast of Queensland is an incredible example of why biodiversity is so important. As many species Down Under have been isolated from other mainlands, plants and animals have adapted over time to the geography's landscapes and features in unique ways. This is incredibly helpful for scientists who want to study how and why evolution works the way it does.

9. Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

Photo by Aline Ranaivoson/AFP/Getty Images.

These "upside-down trees" in Madagascar are hundreds of years old and upwards of 98 feet. The avenue thankfully gained protective status in 2007, becoming the country's first national monument in an attempt to keep the area pristine for generations to come. One might argue it's not technically a forest, per se, but it's one cluster of trees too impressive to keep off the list.

10. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

Image via iStock.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve — located in one of the most biodiverse countries in the world — has a whopping 755 known species of trees. A wet and tropical climate means weather there stays relatively consistent throughout the year, and committed conservation efforts means sustainability stays a big priority.

11. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images.

Zhangjiajie National Forest's natural beauty and ecological importance to Asia earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means it's very protected by conservation efforts. Famous in large part due to its towering, bare-rock formations, the forest was the inspiration behind some of the scenery in "Avatar."

Those were just 11 of the world's most magical forests. But really, this list could go on and on ... and on.

In fact, chances are, there's an amazing forest waiting to be explored not too far from your own front door. Safe adventuring.

Heroes
True
REI

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
via Hollie Bellew-Shaw / Facebook

For those of us who are not on the spectrum, it can be hard to perceive the world through the senses of someone with autism.

"You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses," Stephen Shore, assistant professor in the School of Education at Adelphi University, told Web MD.

"Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it's very hard to perceive a person's environment accurately," Shore continued.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

truth
True