Southern National Parks You Should Visit
Time for another road trip, y'all!
Everyone is itching to get out of the house and explore. National parks are the perfect escape, and some of the country's best just so happen to be in the South. Here are five of our favorites.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is made up of seven small islands situated 67 miles west of Key West, Florida. The islands were discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513. They were named after the lack of fresh water on the islands and the abundance of sea turtles. Visitors arrive by ferry or seaplane and can hop between islands and check out Fort Jefferson– a fortress and prison used during the Civil War, snorkel amidst vibrant coral reef and, because the islands are a designated layover point for migrating birds, there is amazing bird watching. Over 300 species of birds fly through here. Dry Tortugas National Park is a tropical Southern paradise and a must see on any adventurer's list.
Shenandoah National Park
Virginia is for lovers, nature lovers, because Shenandoah National Park, located in the heart of the state, is nature at its finest. Frequented for hiking, fly fishing, rock climbing, and camping, this park's most iconic feature is the historic Skyline Drive. It's a 105-mile stretch of road along the Blue Ridge Mountains. This scenic byway provides visitors with spectacular views of the Virginia mountain tops year round from the comfort of their cars. It is especially popular during fall foliage. Shenandoah National Park is a Southern gem.
Congaree National Park
Established in 2003 and often referred to as the "redwoods of the east," Congaree National Park is home to the largest, and tallest, tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States. This designated wilderness area is located in central South Carolina and is a sanctuary for diverse plant and animal life. It's also historically significant–once being home to Native Americans and late a refuge for escaped enslaved people. Congaree National Park also offers and accessible boardwalk hike for everyone to enjoy, as well as breathtaking canoeing, birding, and camping experiences. Honor nature and history when visiting Congaree National Park.
Big Bend National Park
Although practically unreachable and uninhabitable at one point (think dirt roads in the middle of the Texas desert), Big Bend National Park is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Texas. Located along the sweeping 118-mile curve of the Rio Grande, Big Bend offers over 800,000 acres of biodiverse land to explore, including preserved Native American historical sites, over 450 species of birds and other animals in their natural habitat, and unmatched stargazing at night. It was named one of the top 10 places in the world for stargazing. By car, foot, bicycle, or boat, Big Bend National Park is an endless source of breath-taking beauty for Southerners, and everyone else, to explore and enjoy.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Located in west central Kentucky, Mammoth Cave National Park provides visitors with a once in a lifetime experience. This world heritage site is famously home to the longest known cave system on Earth. Its limestone formations and underground passageways make up the 400-mile long cave systems that showcase Earth's evolutionary stages and contain a multitude of rare flora and endangered species. Mammoth Cave National Park has a wide range of cave tours for guests, including the physically demanding crawling tour and nighttime tour by lantern light. There is nothing else like this park in the world.
Have we convinced you to lace up your hiking boots yet?