Rainforests are defined as areas with more than 200 centimeters of rainfall per year. While they only make up 6% of land around the world, they are teeming with life and home to more than half of the world’s plant and animal species.
In the United States, several regions experience this level of rainfall and have tropical or temperate rainforests because of it.
Chugach National Forest:
Located in south-central Alaska, Chugach National Forest surrounds a temperate rainforest running between the ocean and the glacial alpine zone.
The Chugach rainforest houses Sitka spruce and mountain and western hemlock trees, as well as moose, bears and bald eagles. More bald eagles live within Chugach National Forest than in the contiguous United States combined. The Chugach National Forest also has glaciers, rivers and watersheds.
El Yunque National Forest:
The only tropical rainforest managed by the U.S. Forest Service is El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico.
At roughly 117 square kilometers, it is one of the smallest rainforests in U.S. territory, but it punches above its weight in biodiversity. El Yunque is home to 225 native tree species — 23 of which are found nowhere else in the world — and 164 documented vertebrate species.
Hoh Rain Forest:
Nestled within the Olympic National Park in Washington state, the Hoh Rain Forest averages 3.5 meters of rainfall per year and is known for its verdant landscape.
Coniferous and deciduous trees make a canopy over sprawling clusters of ferns and soft moss, which drapes over rocks, tree trunks and the forest floor. The thick forest undergrowth allows banana slugs, snakes, snails, salamanders and small rodents to thrive within the ecosystem.