10 magical forests to send your imagination wild

No, these mysterious forests are not a CGI creation from Hollywood. They’re real – and amazing.
By Alison Mann

From Lord of the Rings to Avatar, ancient forests have a way of capturing the imagination. Dark, mysterious and hauntingly beautiful, they conjure images of mythical creatures and creepy characters. From twisted yew trees to majestic Californian redwoods, we find the world's most inspiring real-life forests.

Rainforest greenery

A rainforest in Olympic National Park, Washington
A rainforest in Olympic National Park, Washington © Jordan Siemens/Getty Images

The lush green rainforest of Olympic National Park, Washington, USA. It has an incredibly diverse ecosystem with old growth in the shadow of glacier covered peaks and alpine meadows.

Middle Earth

Rata Forest in New Zealand
The gnarly Rata Forest in New Zealand © Rob Brown

New Zealand is home to this particularly gnarly forest, which looks like it has come straight out of Lord of the Rings, which was filmed in the country. Rata Forest is on Enderby Island. Just don't expect the trees to talk.

Stand among giants

Magnificent redwoods in California
Magnificent redwoods in California © Kristin Piljay/Getty Images

Majestic, proud, magnificent. When you stand in a redwood forest, you stand among giants. The quintessential redwood forest can be found at Del Norte Redwoods State Park, California.

Basque Country beech

Spain's Gorbeia Natural Park
Spain's Gorbeia Natural Park © Westend61/Getty Images

Go green. These mossy wonders can be found in Spain’s Gorbeia Natural Park which is located at the foot of Mount Gorbeia which sits at 1,481m.

Fresh ferns

A lush green forest in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
A forest of fearns in Hawaii © Vaughn Greg

This beautiful fern-heavy forest is a haven amongst the barren land at the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. The forest in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is made up primarily of tree fern and ohia trees.

Beech legend

Brocéliande forest in Bretagne, France
Brocéliande forest in Bretagne, France © Christophe Kiciak/Getty Image

This particular old moss-covered beech tree actually has a name, Ponthus’ beech which legend has it is named after a knight of the round table. The tree can be found in Brocéliande forest Brittany, France.

Where's Frodo?

The Goblin forest in New Zealand
The Goblin forest in New Zealand © Rob Brown

Actually this was not a location in Lord of the Rings but it may as well have been. The mystical Goblin Forest in New Zealand can be explored when visiting the Tararua Forest Park. Probably not the kind of place you want to spend a lonely night...

Ancient yew

The ancient yew trees in Sussex are some of the oldest things in Britain
An ancient tree in Sussex, England © Robin Bush/Getty Images

This twisted yew tree is among one of the oldest in England. Some of the trees are said to be almost 2,000 years old and are popular with kids playing hide-and-seek. The trees don't have man to thank for their survival – they were once used as target practice by Britain's Royal Air Force.

Autumnal colours

An autumnal forest in Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany
An autumnal forest in Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany © Westend61/Getty Images

Some forests are meant for walks; some trees are there to climb. And there are others where you just need to stand and stare. This enchanting autumnal scene was captured in Baden Wuerttemberg in the south west of Germany.

Display of light

A springtime forest in the Netherlands
A springtime forest in the Netherlands © Bob van den Berg Photography/Getty Images

No forest scene is complete until the sun appears, sending through great shards of light that illuminate the forest floor. This forest scene can be found in many areas across northern Europe. It's actually in the Netherlands.

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