The southeast region of the United States is among the most popular areas for outdoor enthusiasts, as the area boasts of scenic mountains, caves, and a little further south, the Everglades. The following national parks offer these and much more to those who wish to embark on an adventure of a lifetime.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The most popular national park in the country, with over 11.3 million visitors last year alone, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers land in both Tennessee and North Carolina. Set up camp in one of several tent, RV, or backcountry campsites and enjoy the surrounding wildflowers and wildlife, as well as rare light shows provided by fascinating synchronous fireflies.
Visitors and locals enjoy fishing, horseback riding, waterfalls, hiking, cycling, and taking tours of the park. Especially famous for Dollywood, Pigeon Forge lies in close proximity to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This picturesque town is also famous for its museums, ziplines, shopping outlets, arcades, and dinner theaters.
Mammoth Cave National Park
The world’s largest known cave system, with more than 400 miles of caves explored to date, the Mammoth Cave National Park was designated a world heritage site in 1981 and covers hill country as well as the green river valley regions of south-central Kentucky. There are several campgrounds to choose from offering tent and RV sites. Backcountry camping sites, reached by boat, are available on the river floodplain. Several tours of the caves are available every day of the year except for Christmas day, with each tour featuring a different section of the cave. Also, these tours range from one to six hours and from easy to difficult.
People who come to see Mammoth Cave National Park often stay in Cave City, which is approximately fifteen minutes away by car. It is well known for its many caves, the Mammoth Cave Wildlife Museum, and Dinosaur World, which has life-size dinosaur attractions, fossils, and other hands-on activities.
Everglades National Park
Designated as a wetland of international importance as well as a world heritage site, the Everglades National Park is just one hour from Miami. The Everglades cover over 1.5 million acres of land and includes five tropical and subtropical habitats where the Florida alligator is the king. One can also spot endangered animals such as Florida panthers and crocodiles, as well as white-tailed deer, bobcats, manatees and many more. Two nearby campgrounds accommodate tents as well as RV’s, and backcountry camping is accessible via boat, canoe, or kayak. Explore the park throughout the year by hiking, cycling, or by boat, or enjoy a guided tour of the park where the peak season runs from mid-December through Easter.
Florida City is exceptionally close to the Everglades and has plenty of places for visitors to stay. It has its own fair share of attractions, too: the Biscayne National Park, the Everglades Alligator Farm, Coral Castle, and more.
As shown above, each of these parks offers outdoor explorers the promise of an unforgettable journey. Whether camping, taking a tour, enjoying wildlife, taking in the majestic scenery, or even shopping a little, adventure awaits in the national parks of the southeast.