Mississippi's mighty namesake river defines its western border, but rivers and streams—too many to name—running throughout the state and its 100 miles of coastline make Mississippi a water-lover's paradise. There are also more than two-million acres of public hunting areas, in addition to parks, nature preserves and smaller oases of green. Canoe or kayak through silent woodlands. Take a beach vacation. Rappel from rocky crags. Scout the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Mississippi's natural wonders are yours to enjoy.
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Community Nature Center (Clinton)
In addition to a museum, the center features 33 acres of woodlands near Olde Towne Clinton, including miles of walking trails and an array of labeled native trees and flowers.
Leroy Percy State Park
See deer, wild turkey, migratory waterfowl, small mammals, plentiful birdlife and alligators in this 1,800-acre state park and wildlife management area near Hollandale. Just be careful during hunting season.
Trace State Park
Go horseback riding on a 25-mile trail system in undeveloped northern and western portions of this park near Pontotoc. Ride through backcountry, rugged terrain, forests and red bluffs and discover secluded ponds and meadows.
State Park (Tishomingo)
Whether you're interested in a scenic walk or extreme rock climbing, Tishomingo in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains has it. This unique landscape will enchant you with its massive rock formations, more than 600 species of fern, wildflowers, bob white quail, wild turkey, hawks, vultures, ospreys, owls and wading birds.
Petrified Forest (Mississippi)
A walk through the petrified forest will take you back in time 36-million years, when a raging river deposited these fallen trees, some more than 100-feet long.
Museum of Natural Science (Mississippi)
This 73,000-square-foot facility nestles against a 300-acre area featuring Mississippi wildlife. See white-tailed deer, waterfowl, catfish and snapping turtles, as well as species of fish and their aquatic neighbors in a 100,000-gallon network of giant aquariums. Or catch an alligator snoozing in "The Swamp", a 1,700-square-foot greenhouse with its own 20,000-gallon aquarium.
National Seashore (Gulf Islands)
Accessible only by boat, the Gulf Islands are truly one of the south's great natural treasures. Bayous, soft-sand beaches, sparkling water and magical nature trails make the islands a must-visit destination.
StenniSphere and NASA Stennis Space Center
Who hasn't wanted to be an astronaut at one time or another? Check out interactive exhibits, tours of America's largest rocket engine test complex and, best of all, a motion simulator ride.
Blue Bluff Recreation and Birding & Wildlife Viewing Area
Nature lovers should make time for this Aberdeen gem. More than 400 acres of upland and bottomland hardwoods host a myriad of small mammals and aquatic life. See Canada geese, great blue heron and other bird species. The bluffs themselves rise 80 feet above water, providing gorgeous views of Aberdeen lake, lock and dam. It's also a great place for swimming and boating.