American Landscapes: Southern Parks

Swamps, mountains, caves, and hot springs in the South!

  • 18
  • 61:04
  • 3,684 mi
  • $568
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Created by suebowers - February 11th 2017

The South conjures up images of small towns and quaint traditions, but there's more to this part of the country than its distinctive culture: There's also endless beauty to be found here. From the swampy forests of Florida's Everglades to the endless, misty terrain in Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains to the mysteries waiting to be discovered within Kentucky's Mammoth Cave, the South's charm can be found in more than just its hospitality!

Photo of Congaree National Park
4.5

100 National Park Road, Hopkins, SC, US

Congaree National Park

Promoted to National Park status in 2003, Congaree National Park is one of the newer units in the Parks system. People have been campaigning for its protection since the late 60s, though, and there's a good reason why: There's not a ton of swampland left in South Carolina, and with swampland comes all kinds of incredible stuff you can't find anywhere else in the country, like glowing mushrooms, wild pigs, and canoe trips through lush greenery.

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124mi 02h 09m
Photo of Mistletoe State Park Campground
4.8

3725 Mistletoe Rd., GA, US

Mistletoe State Park Campground

1

Mistletoe State Park Campground is located on Clarks Hill Lake, which provides loads of water-related fun. If you just need a quick place to stay the night, you can rent out one of their campsites or cabins; drift off to sleep while listening to the water lap against the lakeshore. If you have a little extra time to spend here, take in a hike through the forest, or rent a canoe for some bass fishing!

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224mi 03h 40m
Photo of Cheaha State Park
4.0

19644 AL-281, Delta, AL, US

Cheaha State Park

2

Located in the woodland beauty of the Talladega State Forest, Cheaha State Park offers hiking and some of the most stunning scenic overlooks in the country. If you stop here, make a point to take the trails to either Bunker Tower or the overlook at Bald Rock Trail. You'll also find campsites and even a hotel with private chalets for rent, if you're feeling fancy.

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302mi 05h 21m
Photo of Graceland RV Park & Campground
4.0

3691 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN, US

Graceland RV Park & Campground

3

You can't drive past Memphis without stopping at the city's most famed attraction: Elvis Presley's Graceland. Luckily, there's a RV park and campground located within walking distance of the icon's former home. After you've explored the estate of the legendary musician, come back to the campground to swim in the pool, make use of the free Wi-Fi, or just roast some s'mores while having an Elvis sing-a-long around the campfire!

4
160mi 02h 38m
Photo of Pinnacle Mountain State Park
4.5

11901 Pinnacle Valley Rd., Roland, AR, US

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

4

Whether you want to take it easy and stroll along the Arkansas Trail through the Arkansas Arboretum, or you'd rather take one of the two trails that ascend the peak of Pinnacle Mountain, this state park provides loads of gorgeous views. It's one of Arkansas's most popular spots for a day of hiking, and it's not hard to see why!

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61mi 01h 09m
Photo of Hot Springs National Park
4.4

101 Reserve St, Hot Springs, AR, US

Hot Springs National Park

5

Hot Springs National Park is easily one of the country's most unique National Parks. It's located in an urban area in the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. You can find the hot springs in the "Bathhouse Row" area in downtown. The park was established in the 1920s, about 100 years after the city of Hot Springs had popped up to turn the more than 40 geothermal pools into a tourist destination. You can still soak in some of the springs, or hike through the forests, or simply enjoy the old architecture of the bathhouses and the site's fascinating history.

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479mi 07h 31m
Photo of Burgess Falls State Park
4.5

4010 Burgess Falls Dr, Sparta, TN, US

Burgess Falls State Park

6

There's nothing more rewarding than a hike to a waterfall, and the trail 136-foot Burgess Falls in Tennessee is no exception. The waterfall for which the park is named isn't the only waterfall to be found in the state natural area, either: The Falling Water River offers several falls, which you can view from the 1.5-mile trail through the park.

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154mi 02h 48m
Photo of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
4.9

107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN, US

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

7

One of the country's most popular National Parks, the Great Smoky Mountains is also one of the country's most beautiful. Rolling mountains, serene valleys, and cozy historic cabins abound, so whether you're hiking to Clingmans Dome or cruising around Cade's Cove, the views and the feeling of serenity are unbeatable.

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274mi 04h 46m
Photo of Mammoth Cave National Park
4.5

1 Mammoth Cave Pkwy, Brownsville, KY, US

Mammoth Cave National Park

8

Who would have guessed that the world's longest system of caves would be in Kentucky, a state mostly known for horse racing and bourbon? Mammoth Cave National Park encompasses a system of caverns more than 400 miles long, and the NPS offers various tours, which provide different ways to experience the beauty of the caves. Below the surface, you'll find frozen waterfalls, dripstones, crystals, stalactites, stalagmites, and tons more... not something you get to see every day!

9
361mi 05h 55m

130 Laurel Creek Rd, Fayetteville, WV, US

New River Gorge Bridge

9

West Virginia, also known as the Mountain State, is loaded with rugged, wild beauty. One place where man has managed to tame the wilderness is at the New River Gorge Bridge. At 876 feet tall and 3,000 feet long, it offers quite a view from the top. The bridge is so cool that it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places after only 36 years; most locations on the NRHP don't earn a spot until they're at least 50 years old. Either drive across the bridge and soak in the surroundings, or book a tour with the New River Gorge Bridge Walk, which takes you onto the catwalks inside its steel frame.

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233mi 03h 52m
Photo of Shenandoah National Park
4.6

3655 Hwy 211 East, Luray, VA, US

Shenandoah National Park

10

Visiting the mountains of Shenandoah National Park never gets old. The Virginian hills are filled with history and hidden gems that make them exciting to explore. It's simultaneously peaceful and exciting, just like the feeling you get after hiking to the top of a mountain and looking out over the valley (which you can and should do while visiting the park). Stony Man Mountain, Skyline Drive, and Old Rag Mountain are some of the best ways to explore the park's stunning scenery.

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390mi 06h 27m

431 Main St, Chimney Rock, NC, US

Chimney Rock State Park--Rumbling Bald

11

Chimney Rock State Park's main attraction is the magnificent, 315-foot mountain formation that gives the park its name. The 25-minute hike to the top along the Outcroppings Trail (also known as the "Ultimate Stairmaster") features 491 steps, but the effort is all worth it once you reach the peak, called Exclamation Point (so punny!). From the top you can take in the breathtaking views-- you can see 75 miles of pure Blue Ridge beauty here. The rock also hides a secret 26-story elevator inside, in case you're not up for the hike but don't want to miss the scenery.

12
205mi 03h 19m
Photo of Santee Lakes Campground
4.8

1268 Gordon Rd, Summerton, SC, US

Santee Lakes Campground

12

Located on the shores of South Carolina's lovely Lake Marion, the Santee Lakes Campground is the perfect place to spend a day relaxing while exploring the natural beauty of the South. Shady sites, modern amenities, a giant pool, and a boat ramp make this an ideal spot to set up camp.

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214mi 03h 09m
Photo of Walkabout Camp & RV Park
4.0

742 Old Still Rd., Woodbine, GA, US

Walkabout Camp & RV Park

13

Walkabout Camp and RV Park has a super awesome location, near notable spots such as Amelia Island, Cumberland Island, and Okefenokee National Park Wildlife Refuge, among other places. Visit whatever you want during the day, and then spend the evening swimming in the pool or strolling along the trails at night before you tuck into your tent or RV for the night!

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154mi 02h 21m
Photo of Blue Spring State Park
4.5

2100 W French Ave., Orange City, FL, US

Blue Spring State Park

14

Florida is home to more than just beaches... if you head inland, you'll find a collection of freshwater springs that are perfect for swimming! Blue Spring State Park itself contains a few springs, and is a fantastic spot for canoeing, tubing, boat tours, manatee-spotting, and hiking through the forests.

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84mi 01h 26m
Photo of Carver's Cove RV Resort
3.0

4 Carver Dr., Cape Canaveral, FL, US

Carver's Cove RV Resort

15

Carver's Cove RV Resort is right on the Banana River, and is located a quick drive from Cocoa Beach, Disney World, Universal Studios, and tons more. Plus, if you're skilled with a rod and reel, you can catch your own dinner from their fishing pier and cook it over a campfire. If the thought of fishing doesn't reel you in, the dock is a great place to relax and take in a gorgeous Florida sunset.

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209mi 03h 29m
Photo of Bill Baggs Cape Florida Park
4.5

1200 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL, US

Bill Baggs Cape Florida Park

16

Bill Baggs Cape Florida Park has all of the ingredients to be one of the state's prettiest parks: white sand, a view of Biscayne Bay, and a scenic lighthouse. Plus, it's far enough away from South Beach and Miami that it's relatively quiet compared to other beaches in the area!

47mi 01h 06m
Photo of Everglades National Park
4.5

40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL, US

Everglades National Park

The Everglades is the best place to spot wildlife in the country. The tropical wilderness, marked by rivers, wetland, and stands of mangroves is home to crocodiles, panthers, alligators, manatees, dolphins, coral, herons, turtles, and loads more. Take a hike on one of the boardwalks, rent a canoe, or book an airboat tour to experience this one-of-a-kind landscape!

Whether you're conquering a mountain peak in the Smokies, soaking in a pool of geothermal relaxation at Hot Springs National Park, or paddling through the lush greenery of the Everglades, the South boasts many different ways to enjoy its varied views.