The Forest Service Green Vehicle Color Is Incredibly Distinctive

Among my many favorite things about driving through national parks and wide open, empty land is the U.S. Forest Service vehicle color. Yes, the scenery is always beautiful, and there’s a lot to do, and it’s important to see all that this great country has to offer — but "Forest Service Green" is a hidden treat you might spot whenever you’re on federal land.

First, a little background. Many government agencies order their vehicles in bulk, and these agencies sometimes specify particular colors — though often they simply choose whichever is cheapest. Forest Service Green has been chosen by the U.S. Forest Service since the 1950s, and the green is highly distinctive, a rather unusual hue that no sane person would choose for their own vehicles.

As a result, this makes U.S. Forest Service vehicles tremendously easy to spot — and when these vehicles are sold to a private citizen, as the one above surely was, it’s obvious where the vehicle’s life started. Forest Service Green is such a distinctive color that if you ask most outdoorsy people about it — folks who have spent lots of time in a national park or on federal land — they’ll immediately know what you’re talking about, even if they’ve never quite taken the time to think about the uniqueness of the color. Google "Forest Service Green," and dozens of photos come up of trucks and SUVs with the U.S. Forest Service logo, all painted the distinctive green.

Unfortunately, the color may be going away. While researching this article, I stumbled across an article from 2003 that suggests the U.S. Forest Service is getting more white vehicles and fewer in the characteristic green, largely because automakers don’t want to add the expense of creating the special color for each new model ordered by the agency. The article says the Forest Service still orders the color whenever possible, but it implies the color will probably go away someday, simply as more and more automakers cease offering it.

For now, Forest Service Green lives on — or, at least, on former Forest Service vehicles.

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