Mississippi has a wealth of exhilarating outdoor activities for visitors who wish to explore the state's rich agricultural history. Navigate a corn maze, stay in a sharecropper's shack, go shrimping on the Mississippi Gulf Coast or pick your own fruits and vegetables from orchards and working farms. Our agriculture and its great heritage have not only flourished over the years but have also produced a growing Agritourism industry exhibiting some of the most enticing and diverse attractions in the South. Where once cotton was king, now industries such as catfish farms, buffalo ranches and organic gardens are springing up to extend Mississippi's warm southern hospitality to visiting travelers. Here you can experience life on the farm and indulge yourself in the “grass roots” culture that made this country great.
Over the past decade or two, biking has become one of Mississippi’s fastest-growing outdoor activities. From swift and steep single-track bike routes in dense hardwood forests, to high mileage rail trails that run through scenic small towns, Mississippi has a wide assortment of biking trails that span the state. A few of the more popular rides are the Natchez Trace Parkway, which crisscrosses the state for 300 miles. Another popular trail is the longleaf Trace, a 41-mile journey that is one of the nation’s first rails-to-trails projects. The Tanglefoot Trail, Mississippi’s longest rails-to-trails conversion, meanders 43.6 miles through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, while the 200-year-old Mississippi River Trail (MRT) lead you 3,000 miles through 10 states, following the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans. Mountain biking also continues to grow rapidly in Mississippi, and numerous trails can be found in our state parks and in our six national forests.
Birding & Wildlife Viewing
Birding & Wildlife Viewing
For bird watchers and wildlife photographers, Mississippi is one of the most highly regarded destinations in America. Wildlife lovers can venture deep into wilderness retreats at state wildlife management areas, national forests, national parks and national wildlife refuges. Spring and fall migrations bring many species of waterfowl and Neotropical songbirds to the Mississippi Flyway. Mississippi also has numerous festivals and events centered on birding and wildlife viewing. Visit the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, which hosts the annual Hummingbird Migration Celebration and Festival, one of the largest nature festivals in the southeast. Elsewhere, the Mississippi Coastal Birding Trail (MCBT) includes a web-based system that guides bird watchers to the best sites for spotting a diverse range of 389 bird species across the six-county coastal region. Avid birders should also make note to attend one of Tara Wildlife’s nature and birding events.
A beautiful, bountiful wilderness covers Mississippi, and there is no better way to experience the wilds than through camping. Hundreds of campgrounds dot our state, ranging from remote areas with primitive campsites, to campgrounds that offer a wide range of amenities and creature comforts. And if you prefer the comfort of RV travel, we have plenty of locations waiting for you to plug in and relax, many with full hookups and extras such as Wi-Fi access. Mississippi’s state park system and private campgrounds spread from the Gulf Coast to the northern state line, giving you a base to explore any or all of the many adventures the state has to offer.
Canoeing & Kayaking
Canoeing & Kayaking
The rivers and streams in Mississippi offer some of the most fun and most scenic outdoor adventures in the state. Adventure out on the Mississippi River with Quapaw Canoe Company, paddle Black Creek, Mississippi’s only designated National Wild and Scenic waterway, or explore the Pascagoula River, the largest unimpeded river system in the country and find out why it is called the “Singing River.” From leisurely float trips to adventurous canoe trips down the Mississippi River, there’s a river trip for everyone’s experience level. So don your life jacket and get on the water for a Mississippi paddle or float trip.
Many visitors are surprised and delighted to learn that Mississippi has a large and thriving equestrian community. Our state showcases not only phenomenal riding venues but also a wealth of horse shows and charity equestrian events.
In addition to the many horse shows and exhibitions in Mississippi, riding trails and equine facilities can be easily found throughout the state. Within Bienville National Forest (part of Roosevelt State Park) the Shockaloe Riding Trail awaits any horse lover who prefers natural transportation in a wilderness setting. The Natchez Trace Scenic Trail also offers incomparable riding experiences on any of the four different pathways that comprise this federally protected Scenic Trail.
Mississippi has much more to offer the horse lover, and with each passing year the events, shows and opportunities to experience nature on horseback grow and continue to delight both residents and visitors alike.
From freshwater fishing in 119 public lakes to saltwater fishing off the Gulf Coast, Mississippi offers endless excitement for the avid angler. Mississippi is well known for its incredible crappie fishing. The World’s Largest Crappie Fest is held annually at Enid Reservoir in Water Valley. The reigning world record white crappie was caught here, weighing in at 5lb. 3oz. In addition to the scale-tipping catches, our mild climate keeps the state ripe for fishing excursions year-round. For a truly memorable fishing adventure, look no further than the salt waters of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hire a licensed charter guide who knows the locations of local reefs and wrecks, where the fish are and what they’re biting. Your guide is your gateway to a sea of amberjack, cobia, red snapper and more. If inshore is more to your liking, fishing trips along the coastal areas and marshes typically mean hefty catches of speckled trout, redfish and flounder.
Geocaching is the latest form of treasure hunting that incorporates the latest technology. GPS is used to find hidden treasures, called “caches,” all over the world. There are over 8,000 active caches hidden within the state of Mississippi. Whether you are on the Gulf Coast, in the Delta, on the banks of the Tombigbee, or walking down State Street in the capital city–chances are good that a cache is waiting nearby.
Not familiar with geocaching? Visit Geocaching.com and watch this video to learn more about it.
Try these geocaching challenges in Mississippi:
Desoto County Challenge
Mississippi Blues Trail Geocaching Challenge:
The Mississippi Blues Trail was established to recognize the our state’s role in the creation of a style of music known as the "Mississippi Blues" or simply "the Blues." Many musicians acquired fame, and sometimes fortune, playing this style of music as fans around the world embrace this distinctive sound.
The Blues Trail markers are located throughout the five regions of our state. The markers are located in places of historical sites that are significance to our blues music heritage, and each marker recounts a specific event or person in blues history. The vast majority of these markers are in the Delta region in the northwest part of the state, which is widely regarded as the birthplace of the blues.
The Mississippi Blues Trail Geocaching Challenge involves visiting those Blues Trail markers scattered throughout the state of Mississippi and beyond. Participating sites include Tupelo, Columbus, Jackson, Holly Springs, Cleveland, Clarksdale, the University of Mississippi, Aberdeen, Meridian, Vicksburg and more. For a complete list of markers, visit the Mississippi Blues Trail.
Mississippi Blues Trail Geocaching Challenge Requirements
Meeting the challenge requires visiting 50 Blues Trail Markers and locating the hidden geocaches at (or near) many of these blues markers. You’ll find a listing of the current blues trail caches at Mississippi Blues Caches.
After you find 50 Mississippi Blues Trail Caches, sign the logbooks at each, then return to www.geocaching.com and log your find online. Premium Geocaching members will need to create a bookmark list of the 50 Mississippi Blues Trail caches found and email the completed list to firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, address and phone number to receive their free geocoin. Non-Premium Geocaching members will need to create a list of the 50 Mississippi Blues Trail caches found and email the completed list to email@example.com with their name, address and phone number to receive the free geocoin.
Some of the requirements involve finding caches located near the markers. After completing the requirements, the final cache must be found and logged to complete the challenge. At the listed coordinates, you will find an ammo can; however you MUST complete the challenge requirements for it to qualify as a legitimate find. Logs posted as found without verification of the challenge completion are subject to log deletion.
If you have technical questions about the caches along the trail, please contact Lacey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether you’re out for a day hike or an extended backpacking excursion into the wilderness, the six National Forests in Mississippi provide excellent opportunities for exploring the wilderness on foot. Mississippi has 1.2 million acres of forest, providing a diversity of terrain, and numerous lakes, rivers and streams. Some trails are easy and can accommodate families with small children. Other paths make great half-day hikes, while some trails can lead to a backpacking adventure for a night or longer. Discover the hidden beauty of the piney woods by hiking one of Mississippi’s longest and most challenging trails, The Black Creek Trail. It continues for 40 miles along the Black Creek River. Approximately 10 miles of the trail is located in the Black Creek Wilderness. In addition to our national forests, Mississippi’s state parks also offer many trails that are open for exploration and adventure.
Mississippi offers some of the greatest hunting anywhere in the country and is especially bountiful in white-tailed deer, waterfowl and eastern wild turkeys. Other species abound as well, including feral hogs, rabbits, squirrels, mourning doves and bobwhite quail. Our generous hunting seasons and bag limits, along with substantial conservation efforts, ensure that you will be able to find incredible hunting grounds throughout the state. Mississippi has over 1,000 square miles of public hunting lands in 53 wildlife management areas, along with nine national wildlife refuges. In addition to the state’s public lands, there are private lands and commercial outfitters waiting to give you the opportunity to venture out on the hunt of a lifetime.
Nature Tours & Museums
Nature Tours & Museums
In Mississippi, you can still trace the trails where dinosaurs once roamed, the first Native American settlers created thriving agricultural societies and explorers like Hernando DeSoto heralded the arrival of European civilization. The history of Mississippi is more than people, places and historic events. Mississippi’s natural history is carefully collected and preserved through its many museums and conservatories. Simply choose your era, and take a stroll through time. The nature museums of Mississippi are perfect for family outings offering visitors of all ages an exciting glimpse into the flora and fauna of our state from its earliest beginnings to the present day.
From the Gulf Coast, to the woods, hills and plains that lie to the north, the lure of nature can be felt throughout the state, calling anyone with a love for natural splendor. While much of our state is open for you to explore on your own, our guides and professional experts can help you find hidden gems and remote vistas that are waiting off the beaten trail. With each excursion—from in-depth trail hikes to seafaring coastal exploration—our tours, charters and festivals will ensure a great time for all.
Our national, state and local parks enable guests to pursue their favorite outdoor activities. There's always an organized event on the horizon. Discover the abundance of festivals, historic sites and outdoor recreation events that make our system of state and national parks a welcoming, family-oriented vacation destination. Mississippi parks are more than just wonderful surrounds; they are award-winning treasures. Reserve America recently released its list of "Top 100 Campgrounds Awards" and Mississippi State Parks were well represented, having seven parks in the Top 100.
Scenic Drives & Byways
Scenic Drives & Byways
From prehistoric animal migrations used by American Indians, to avenues for commerce and travel by early settlers, trails helped shape Mississippi. Today, many of Mississippi’s historic trails have been designated as scenic byways.
One of the most historic and scenic trails in the U.S. is the Natchez Trace Parkway. Today the National Park Service manages the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, which commemorates the ancient trail from Nashville to Natchez. You can experience this National Scenic Byway and All-American Road by car, bike, foot or even horseback. A diverse terrain of rolling hills, farmland, thick forests and cypress swamps keeps you guessing what’s around the next curve of the road.
Other astounding trails include the Grand Gulf-Raymond Scenic Byway and the Great River Road National Scenic Byway. There are also motorcycle trails and scenic state highways that offer diverse terrain and breathtaking views for travelers to enjoy.
Whether honing their skills for the hunt, for competition or simply as a hobby, sharpshooters far and wide set their scopes on Mississippi for the fine art of sport shooting. With a wide array of quality ranges and gun clubs, Mississippi welcomes vacationing shooting enthusiasts. You’ll find ample opportunity to showcase your shooting skills in Mississippi and learn more by exchanging tips with local marksmen. No matter what part of the state you travel, a quality shooting range is never more than a short drive away.