Exploring the natural wonders of the Southern US

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Travel South USA recently teamed up with leading influencers and photographers Amelia Le Brun, Amy Shore, Federico Penta, James Norbury, and Guy Davies to highlight the many incredible outdoor adventures you can enjoy in the southern states of America. From the vast Appalachian Mountains to the near-million acres of swampland at Atchafalaya Swamp, Travel South USA offers a gateway to countless lesser-trodden natural wonders.

Kentucky

Enjoy an otherworldy experience as you canoe through Red River Gorge

(Amy Shore)

Anchored by the rugged Appalachian Mountains in the east and hugged by the Ohio River in the north, the Bluegrass State is an outdoor-adventurer hot spot. It’s home to one of the seven wonders of the new world – the labyrinthian Mammoth Cave – and the Cumberland Falls State Park, a hiker’s haven with 17 miles of winding trails that meander through lush forest and towering waterfalls. You’ll find 25 trail towns encouraging long-distance adventures and exploration through Kentucky’s thousands of trails and wild topography. Deep in the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Red River Gorge is world-famous for rock climbing, canoeing, hiking, biking and camping; Red River Gorge Cabins are the perfect choice for those looking for a place to rest their head. If you prefer to get your heart-thumping, Black Mountain Offroad Adventure Area, located in the breathtaking mountains of Harlan County, offers 7,000 acres of off road trails and treetop zip lining.kentuckytourism.com

North Carolina

Chase the waterfalls at Gorges State Park as you hike through the winding forest trails

(Amelia Le Brun)

Mighty mountains, endless coastline and sandy shores are just a few of the things you can expect on a trip to North Carolina. The Tar Heel State is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and travellers who yearn for outdoor adventures. Get stuck into fly fishing at Maggie Valley or get up close to the elk of Cataloochee, who saunter freely in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Do go chasing waterfalls at Gorges State Park, the gateway to North Carolina’s most beautiful falls, where miles of hiking trails wind through thickets and forest. Cool off in the northwest waters at Lake Toxaway, where ample swimming, boating, canoeing and watersports await. Rather stick to dry land? Head to Transylvania County, nicknamed the Land of Waterfalls, where hundreds of gravel biking trails allow you to adventure even deeper into the wilderness.visitnc.com

South Carolina

Expect regular breathtaking views along the woodland hiking trails of Caesar’s Head State Park

(Amy Shore)

Its 180 miles of fabulous coastline and famed southern hospitality make South Carolina a must-visit destination. It’s a thrilling trove of outdoor escapades, from the vast Congaree National Park – where primaeval forest landscapes and diverse flora and fauna flourish – to the Jones Gap State Park, a deep mountain cove with 13,000 acres of untouched woodland. Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge in the southwest extends 22 miles along the South Carolina coast. It’s one of the nation’s most spectacular wildlife refuges comprising a barrier of alligator-peppered islands and salt marshes teeming with bird life. Exploring all of South Carolina’s rugged landscape could take a lifetime, but the 22-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail, a path once traversed by train cars and locomotives, is an excellent introduction to the area’s top outdoor opportunities. Traipse the trails and granitic gneiss protrusions of Caesar’s Head State Park, where breathtaking views and a mosaic of hiking trails stretch through lush woodland and past sprawling lakes.discoversouthcarolina.com

Arkansas

Bike and hike your way across Pinnacle Mountain State Park, or simply soak up some mountainous, sunset views

(James Norbury and Guy Davies)

Arkansas is a wonder for those who like to be beside the water; the mountains border ancient hot springs at Hot Springs National Park, where abundant creeks and historic bathhouses draw visitors from around the world. Arkansas’s largest lake is a whopping 40,000 acres of clear water surrounded by the luscious Ouachita National Forest, while the Buffalo River flows 135 miles through the Ozarks, past towering limestone bluffs and through the protected wilderness. There’s also Petit Jean State Park, where ancient geology and protected archaeology sites are nestled deep within nature. Pinnacle Mountain State Park, tucked away in central Arkansas, is also teeming with hiking and biking trails, offering an up-close glimpse at the state’s varied landscapes.arkansas.com

Alabama

At Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge you’ll find some of Alabama’s last remaining undisturbed coastal habitats

(Federico Penta)

Alabama is one of America’s most overlooked nature-endowed states. It’s a land of rivers, streams, caverns, and canyons, like the Cathedral Caverns, Little River Canyon and Dismals Canyon, which lights up with bioluminescent dismalites (native glow worms). On the Gulf Coast, Dauphin Island has stretches of white sand and migrating birds, while The Mobile–Tensaw River Delta is the largest river delta and wetland in Alabama, home to one of the most eco-diverse places in the world. Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge is one of the state’s best-kept secrets, housing some of Alabama’s last remaining undisturbed coastal habitats, and is a sanctuary for native flora and fauna. If you prefer to frolic by the water, the 900-acre freshwater Lake Shelby is one of the three spring-fed freshwater lakes of the Gulf State Park, where you’ll be treated to hiking trails, beaches and nine unique ecosystems. It’s an excellent spot to get your camping fix underneath large, shady oak trees, or you can take to the water for a spot of canoeing, kayaking or fishing – the waters are full of crappie, bass, catfish and bluegill.alabama.travel

Louisiana

Hike through Northlake Nature Center’s 400 acres of ancient pines and hardwood forest with views over Bayou Castine

(Federico Penta)

Bayous, prairies, swampland and forest make it easy to get a hefty dose of nature in The Pelican State. It’s a popular spot for bird enthusiasts, with the Flyway Byway housing the most migratory birds in the southeastern US. Clocking up almost a million acres, the Atchafalaya Swamp in south central Louisiana is the largest wetland and swamp in America, home to basking alligators and wetland wildlife, best explored by gliding through the waterways on a kayak. You can also try fishing on Lake Pontchartrain, 40 miles of vast water connected directly to the Gulf of Mexico, where various species reside, from catfish and redfish to bull sharks. If you prefer to keep two feet firmly on the ground, Northlake Nature Center boasts some of the best hiking trails in Louisiana. The state’s only national forest, Kisatchie National Forest, spans 604,000 acres of scenic vistas, tree-lined byways and rolling piney hills.louisianatravel.com

To learn more about the campaign and to win the ultimate holiday to the South, please visit TravelSouthNaturally.com

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