We focused on bayous and wildlife refuges on this trip. The woods and hills in the south are nice, but not so different than the woods and hills a few miles from my house, so we figure that if we want to camp in the woods we can do that without driving a thousand miles. But bayous and wetlands are distinctly different here and therefore interesting to us, so we tried to visit them as much as possible.
On the way south we stopped at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa and Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas. While in Louisiana we visited Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge, Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge and Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge.
On the way home we stopped at Tallahatchie National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, and Chickasaw, Lake Isom and Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuges in Tennessee.
We also detoured into the Mississippi River bottom land and other river bottoms a few times, checking out the wildlife.
Other than in the bayous, refuges and farmland in southern Louisiana, we didn’t see a whole lot of interesting wildlife. With the exception of the Gulf coast, it’s a bit early in the season for birding. We also concluded that the refuges in most of the states we visited are oriented towards hunting and fishing, not wildlife viewing. The web sites, maps and signage are set up for wildlife harvesting.
We followed the Natchez Trace Parkway north from Natchez for a few hours. Following the Trace it’s whole length would be interesting to do someday.
We camped in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Illinois state parks.
Other that the coastal wildlife, I’ll remember most the extreme poverty so evident in parts of the hills and bottom lands in this part of the south. Those scenes will be with me for a long time.