It’s National Park Week
through April 29, and a great time to get out and explore any of the National Parks
for free. The South is home to many, each one as different as their surroundings and history.
Here’s a quick glance of just some of the activities that await you at National Parks in the region.
at Big Bend National Park
in west Texas. Big Bend is said to have the most dramatic night sky views in the lower 48 states. Whether you are searching for a specific constellation and/or star, or just like to look and imagine, this is the park for you.
-Take a self-guided tour
of Oakland Plantation and the outbuildings of Magnolia Plantation at Cane River Creole National Historic Park
to learn more about lives of the Creoles. Located in Natchitoches, La., guided tours of Magnolia Plantation are available as well, daily at 1 p.m.
-Explore Natchez Trace Parkway
in Mississippi. Covering 444-miles, the it winds from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn. Natchez Trace served as an integral pathway for not only Native Americans, but also for explorers, traders and emigrants. Today, Natchez Trace is filled with scenic views and history. On the Natchez to Jackson
route, see the Emerald Mound at post 10.3. The mound is the second biggest Mississippian period ceremonial mound in the U.S. Driving from Jackson to Tupelo
, get out and walk along the self-guided Cypress Swamp trail at post 112.0. On the parkway from Tupelo to Tennessee
, you can view more mounds – The Pharr Mounds Site- at post 286.7.
at Little River Canyon National Preserve
in Fort Payne, Ala. Choose from the two-mile hike at that Canyon Mouth Picnic Area, 1.8 mile hike at Beaver Pond Trail, among others.
-Tour Cades Cove Loop Road
in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
. During Wednesday and Saturday mornings in the summer and fall, you can rent
a bike from the Cades Cove Campground Store in east Tennessee to explore the 11-mile one way road.
- Go camping
out on Cumberland Island (Ga.) National Seashore
. Go either backcountry or wilderness camping. You never know what wildlife you may see.
-Why walk when you can take a Segway tour
of Kingsley Plantation
on Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
in Jacksonville, Fla. The preserve itself is a 46,000-acre that includes historic sites, abundance of nature and more. Spend a day
at the preserve and you won’t run out of things to do.
-Take a guided canoe trip
on Cedar Creek at Conagree National Park
in Hopkins, S.C. Paddle through large bald cypress and water tupelo trees in this bottomland forest. If you have your own canoe kayak, bring it; or rent one from various outfitters in Columbia.
the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on the third Friday, April – Columbus Day. Back on the ground at Cape Hatteras National Seashore
in Manteo, N.C., build on your shell
collection as you discover unique shells.
in Prince William Forest Park
in Triangle, Va. The 30 courses provide ample challenges for all levels. Maps and extra compasses are available free of charge at the park’s visitor center.
- Said to be the world’s longest known cave system, you can tour
Mammoth Cave (Ky.) National Park. Chose among the many tours that are offered seasonally.
photo credit: Kingsley Plantation on Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in Jacksonville, Fla. Personal collection