From Germany’s mysterious Black Forest to the Sagano Bamboo forest in Japan, forests bring whimsy, majesty, and beauty to the curious traveler. While many forests worldwide are relatively young, a handful of forests are considered ancient. Some forests may have been around for thousands of years, but few are over millions of years old! Discover the unkempt and raw beauty of these forests worldwide, which are considered some of the oldest in the history of the earth.

8 Białowieża Forest (Belarus and Poland)

Straddling Poland and Belarus, Białowieża is another forest defined as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to lush lowland forests, this mixed old-growth forest is home to the largest population of European bison. In addition to housing thousands of species (including 12,000 species of invertebrates), the Białowieża forest contains a collection of massive oak trees estimated to be over 450 to 550 years old.

7 Yakushima (Yaku Island, Japan)

In the heart of Yaku Island lies the stunning foliage of Yakushima. Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient forest is home to around 1,900 species. Defined as a primeval temperate rainforest, this centuries-old forest is home to the Yakusugi, a network of trees that are thousands of years old, the oldest being over 7,000 years of age! Despite its frequency of rainfall, Yakushima is a gorgeous forest popular among Japanese tourists.

6 Kakamega Forest (Kenya, Africa)

The Kenyan Kakamega Forests paints a picture of what the Guinea-Congolian rainforest looked like thousands of years ago in Central Africa. Today, nature enthusiasts who trek to this tropical landscape can appreciate the biodiversity of this lush forest, home to over 400 species of butterflies. While enjoying the panoramic views of Buying Hill or awing at the majesty of Isiukhu Fall, the Kakamega Forest boasts one of the best spots for Kenya’s incredible wildlife. Travelers may come across some unique wildlife, like the red-tailed monkey!

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5 Epping Forest (London/Essex)

Spanning about 5,900 acres, Epping Forest spans London and Essex and is home to about 55,000 trees. Considered an ancient forest, some trees that bless the Epping Forest have been around since Anglo-Saxon times. Henry II recognized this special forest as a ‘Royal Forest’ in the 12th century! Though relatively small compared to other expansive forests worldwide, this historic forest makes for a leisurely hike around London and Essex.

4 Pando (Utah, USA)

Located within Utah’s Fishlake National Forest, Pando is a nickname given to an extensive network of quaking aspen trees collectively referred to as a single organism (due to their extensive yet shared network of roots in the ground). With an estimated 108 acres (or about 43 hectares), Pando is considered the oldest living organism, with estimates between several thousand to 14,000 years old! This incredible organism is gorgeous with its vibrant golden, brown, and yellow hues. Unfortunately, there is some concern for the wellness of this organism due to several environmental factors.

3 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (California, USA)

Those looking for incredibly lush trees won’t find it here at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. However, just as the name suggests, this park is home to some of the most ancient trees in the world, with some over 4,000 years old! This California natural park also houses the largest bristlecone pine tree, Patriarch Tree. Truly, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is one of those places on earth that look like outer space!

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2 Daintree Rainforest (Australia)

With the occurrence of climate change and human activity, it’s a miracle this ancient rainforest remains standing. This Australian forest is a beautiful tropical forest that stood the sands of time for millions of years! Located in Queensland, the Daintree Rainforest houses countless flora and fauna, with lush canopies growing for over 180 million years. Rent a car to drive through this stunning forest and learn more about the forest’s history at the Daintree Discovery Centre. Alternatively, visitors can take a crocodile cruise or take a cultural tour to learn about the sacred nature of this vast landscape, spanning around 460 sq. miles (or 1,200 sq. km)!

1 Cairo, New York, USA

In many ways, the Daintree Rainforest is a living, breathing fossil reminiscent of ancient forests during a time way before the modern age. However, recent studies discovered fossils of an even older forest in Greene County’s Cairo town, New York. In 2019, researchers from Binghamton University discovered fossilized roots of ancient trees, scientifically known as Archaeopteris, the relative of today’s lush trees. Discovered in an unassuming quarry in upstate New York, researchers estimated the age of these fossils to be approximately 385 million years old! Though it’s difficult to visualize what this Paleozoic forest looked like, these ancient trees had flat leaves, an extensive network of huge roots, and trunks with a large girth.