Few states have seen the changes, felt the shifts, and ridden the proverbial waves of the story of America like Mississippi.
Its fertile soil, the rich black gravel of the delta, once largely fed and clothed an entire region. It broke away and joined the Confederacy during the Civil War but rejoined the Nation when the cannon fire ceased, and the cotton- and soy-blanketed fields lay quiet once again.
The Magnolia State has seen the world change around it since its acceptance into the Union in 1817, even if it feels as if it hasn’t changed that much along with it. Indeed, one can still drive those dusty farm backroads and two-lane highways up and down the state and feel transported back to a different era entirely.
This timelessness makes Mississippi a unique and popular spot for outdoor and history lovers.
Such important and tragic history has been written within its borders, and its natural beauty takes a backseat to no other areas in the lower 48. Thankfully, some of these incredible natural and historical Mississippi treasures are preserved forever in its state parks system.
Below are some favorite, can’t-miss spots when visiting the aptly dubbed Hospitality State:
Tishomingo State Park: This park is sunk deep in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Named for its native forebear Chief Tishomingo of the Chickasaw nation, it presents visitors with the chance to witness unparalleled beauty and incredible American history. Humankind’s footprint in the park can be traced back thousands of years to the Paleo Indians around 7000 B.C. Stunning rock formations and deep, majestic forests beckon thousands of visitors annually. Popular activities include camping, canoeing, and fishing on Bear Creek. For the thrill seeker, rock climbing is available with a permit. There is no shortage of things to do in this amazing destination!
Buccaneer State Park: Just a couple hundred miles to the south, another kind of jaw-dropping natural beauty awaits the beach lovers at heart. This park, near Waveland, MS, sits on the mighty Gulf of Mexico, and its mossy oaks, marshlands, and pristine beaches must be seen to be believed. A popular stopover in the 18th century for pirates and smugglers, the area was once a staging area for General Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans. Today, there are camping and hiking trails, disc golf, and even a waterpark for all the fun in the sun the thousands that flock there can handle.
Natchez State Park: Unsurprisingly, given its rich history, this area is the home to one of the oldest settlements on the Mississippi River in Natchez, MS, where this site now stands. Years before the Civil War, the area was home to the wealthiest Americans, who built opulent homes and plantations that visitors can tour today. Favorite things to do these days also include hiking, hunting, picnicking, and fishing. The biggest largemouth bass in Mississippi history was caught right in Natchez State Park, weighing in at a whopping 18.15 lbs! This park is truly an outdoor lover’s dream.