The Parkway stretches over 469 miles between North Carolina and Virginia, going through the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains down to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a dream come true for any nature lover, all year long.
If you haven’t seen one of Texas’ enchanting bluebonnet fields, you haven’t truly lived. The flower blooms in many places in the state, between mid-March and mid-April, and several websites list bluebonnet sightings to help you make sure you don’t miss them. One of the best ways to experience the bluebonnet season is through Ennis Bluebonnet Trails. Ennis, located outside of Dallas, is even home to a yearly bluebonnet festival, in April.
Reelfoot lake is actually a flooded forrest: Following a series of earthquakes, in the winter of 1811-1812, the Mississippi river flowed backward for a few hours – long enough to give birth to this spectacular lake. Today, Reelfoot Lake is home to majestic bald cypress trees and, in January and February, to thousands of American bald eagles.
Named after the nearby Looking Glass Rock, these falls are only a short drive away from Asheville, in Western North Carolina. In addition to being pretty spectacular, they’re also located right near the U.S. 276 and are therefore very easily accessible to everyone.
One of Georgia’s sea islands, Cumberland Island is famous for its wild horses, untamed beaches, and overall otherworldly beauty.
Located in North Central Florida, this hidden gem is a prehistoric underground spring. It’s now owned by a diving company, so you can even dive into its pristine water to get the full experience.
7. Atchafalaya Basin – Louisiana
America’s largest river swamp, the Atchafalaya Basin stretches over 140 miles in south central Louisiana. The area offers a surreal and beautiful landscape of forests, marshes, and open waters.
8. Tallulah Gorge – Georgia
The Dry Tortugas are a group of islands located almost 70 miles west of Key West, in Florida. The most remarkable island of the group may be Garden Key, home to Fort Jefferson, a 19th Century unfinished fortress, and to the inactive Garden Key lighthouse.
10. Providence Canyon State Park – Georgia
Providence Canyon isn’t quite the natural wonder you may think it is: Its gullies were actually caused by poor farming practices in the 19th century. Since then, the Canyon has, somewhat ironically, become a spectacular spot for nature lovers, offering many great hikes and breathtaking views.
One of the prettiest sights in Kentucky, the Cumberland Falls are located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, not far from the border with Tennessee.
A photographer’s dream-come-true at sunrise, Driftwood Beach is also a great destination for any nature and beach lover. This tree-graveyard-meet-white-sand-beach is located on the north end of Jekyll Island, off the coasts of Georgia.
Another one of the gorgeous waterfalls the South has to offer, Twin Falls is located in Rock Island State Park, Tennessee. This feast for the eyes is very easily accessible by car.
14. Angel Oak – South Carolina
15. Lake Jocassee – South Carolina
Located in northwest South Carolina, this man-made lake is renowned for its pristine mountain water and beautiful scenery. It was even named one of “50 of the World’s Last Great Places” by National Geographic. In 2009, a diver found the ruins of a hotel 300ft deep into the lake. It was what was left of the Attakulla Lodge, the last remaining building in the valley before it was washed away by the water in 1973.
16. Savannah – Georgia
17. Little River Canyon – Alabama
Down the middle of Lookout Mountain runs the Little River, one of Alabama’s most beautiful gems. Located in northeast Alabama, it’s the perfect destination for hikers and nature lovers.
18. Whitaker Point – Arkansas
Also known as Hawksbill Crag, this spot is one of the most scenic places in the South. The trail to the top is also equally beautiful and engaging – just make sure to pack your camera!
19. Buffalo National River – Arkansas
The river, which runs almost 150 miles through northern Arkansas, was designated as America’s first national river in 1972. It’s one of the most beautiful regions in the South and a perfect place for hiking and canoeing.
This natural pool, located near Austin, came to be after the dome of an underground river collapsed. It’s a famous swimming spot for locals in the summer.
Let us know what your favorite southern spot is in the comments!
The name of the fort on Garden Key is Fort Jefferson. An earlier version of this post wrongly stated that it was Fort Hamilton.
A mention of the Blue Ridge Mountains was added to the Blue Ridge Parkway part, along with a more specific description of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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