Nestled around the spa town of the same name, Hot Springs National Park is home to 5,550 acres of hilly forest, scenic hiking trails and of course the thermal hot springs from which the park gets its name, whose healing powers have been used for millennia. Downtown Hot Springs’ Bathhouse Row, a designated National Historic Landmark, features a cluster of early-20th-century bathhouses with the beautiful Renaissance Revival-style Fordyce Bathhouse today acting as the park’s visitor center. For beautiful views head to Hot Springs Mountain Tower which looks out over the park, the Ouachita Mountains, and the surrounding Arkansas countryside.
Boasting what is undoubtedly one of the most stunning river canyons in the Southern states, the beautiful rugged terrain of Georgia’s Tallulah Gorge State Park is home to two miles of waterfalls, pools, and the Tallulah River. Not for the fainthearted, the Hurricane Falls Bridge, a swaying suspension bridge hovering 80 feet above the rocky gorge, offers breathtaking views of the park’s waterfalls and upstream the towers constructed to assist daredevil tightrope walker Karl Wallenda to cross a quarter of a mile wide gap in the gorge in 1970. This can still be seen while the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center provide information on the history and ecosystem of the area.
Tennessee’s biggest and best-loved state park, Fall Creek Falls State Park is made up of 26,000 acres resting atop the rugged terrain of the Cumberland Plateau. The park’s sprawling wilderness plays host to lush unspoiled woodland, babbling streams, dramatic gorges and beautiful waterfalls including the park’s namesake Fall Creek Falls, which at 256 tall is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern USA. Stunning panoramic views can be enjoyed from overlooks like Buzzard’s Roost while the rushing waters at Cane Creek Cascades which lead down to the scenic Cane Creek Falls can be seen from a quaint suspension bridge swaying above the creek.
One of the USA’s newest national parks, Congaree National Park was designated in 2003 as a means of protecting the South Carolina area’s beautiful floodplain forest and the unique ecosystem it plays host to. Spread across over 25,000 acres, Congaree National Park’s floodplain is fed by the nutrient-rich waters of the Congaree and Wateree rivers and is home to the largest tract of bottomland hardwood forest still standing in the southeastern region alongside a whole host of fauna from feral pigs and armadillos to catfish and snakes. Visitors can explore its enchanting swamplands and Spanish moss-covered trees from a number of scenic trails leading through the park.