by AINSLEY LAWRENCE
The Southern states have a lot to offer anybody heading out on a vacation. The vast landscapes can make for the types of road trips that enhance your happiness and enrich your mindset. Whether you’re seeking cuisine, relaxation, or adventure, you can be sure that the South can provide you with ample opportunities.
This is particularly the case if you’re a nature lover. Each of the Southern states has a rich and diverse ecosystem. In a single day, you can drive from coastlines to mountains, with all the fascinating flora and fauna each is home to. The only challenge is making the choice of what to include in your itinerary.
Let’s look at a selection of Southern travel destinations for nature lovers.
For Green Spaces and Trails
Heading out into the nature of the Southern states isn’t just a way to experience the beauty of majestic surroundings. Studies have shown that spending time in green spaces can positively impact your health, too. Being outside among nature can reduce stress and lower your blood pressure. Close proximity to green areas also tends to promote exercise, which can contribute to better quality sleep.
Therefore, it’s worth considering what Southern green spaces you can access during your vacation. There’s certainly no shortage of parks and trails. Whether you want a challenging hike or just a gentle stroll among natural surroundings, you’re covered.
Some of the key areas include:
Cummins Falls State Park in Tennessee
Cummins Falls State Park in Jackson County, Tennessee, encompasses 306 acres around the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River. There are a couple of hiking trails that take visitors through the woodland area toward its gorge. Here, your family can relax amidst the rush of the waterfall and hang out in the swimming hole.
Shenandoah River State Park, Virginia
Shenandoah is not just a park in which to spend time among the peaceful surroundings of the famous river. The park also offers around 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. A vacation here opens visitors up to renewing green spaces that include mountains, valleys, riverbanks, and woodland.
For Engaging Activities
Many people prefer their vacations among nature to not simply be spent in passive enjoyment of landscapes. In fact, finding ways to actively engage with the environment can be enriching, educational, and boost your wellness. Camping can help build your endurance while bringing you closer to the natural world. While fishing and hunting can be conducive to a more respectful and mindful relationship with the ecosystem.
The good news is that there are plenty of travel destinations in the South that support outdoor activities. These actions are often a key part of the local heritage. Many businesses offer both amenities and even access to experts that can make your journey more enjoyable.
Some of the areas you could consider visiting include:
Big Bend National Park, Texas
This national park is set among the desert wilderness, complete with geological structures, fossil beds, and rivers. For hikers, there are more than 200 miles of challenging trails, while those seeking to experience a waterborne adventure can take multi-day canoe excursions along the Rio Grande. There are also 4 campgrounds to get a little closer to the natural environment.
Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana
If your adventure through the South involves a road trip, it’s worth making the Creole Nature Trail part of your itinerary. It’s a 180-mile stretch of rugged natural terrain amidst Louisiana’s outback. Throughout your journey, you can engage in crabbing and fishing led by a local guide. The area also includes 26 miles of Gulf beaches, along which you can gather shells or try out some water sports.
For Connecting with Wildlife
One of the most important aspects of Southern travel for nature lovers is the opportunity to interact with wildlife. Each of the states is host to ecosystems with a unique selection of flora and fauna. Whether you’re traveling solo or taking a family vacation, you can find enriching activities to help you to learn more about the rich environmental landscape. Not to mention you can develop your relationship with the natural world around you.
This is particularly important given the environmental challenges our planet is facing at the moment. Taking the time to see the wildlife of the South can often be a way to understand how human behavior is affecting the well-being of many species.
Some spots for connecting with wildlife include:
Sea Pines Forest Preserve, South Carolina
Set in 605 acres of forestry, Sea Pines has been a protected area for wildlife since 1970. Visitors can walk trails through wetlands and woodlands, observing a wide range of species that consider the area home. You can often come across turtles, herons, eagles, osprey, and snakes, among others.
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Florida
Homosassa is considered among the South’s most important wetland ecosystems. Visiting the park doesn’t just expose you to glades and spring rivers, but also to a range of endangered animals. Florida panthers, red wolves, and whooping cranes have habitats in the area. There are also opportunities to snorkel among manatees.
When deciding which Southern destinations to visit as a nature lover, it can be wise to consider the types of experience you want. The good news is that whether you want to gain the health benefits of relaxing in green spaces or engaging with nature through activities, there are a lot of options available to you. Don’t forget that connecting with the South’s wildlife can also be part of an enriching and humbling adventure.