An RV Adventure to Mississippi’s DeSoto National Forest

Picture of a Pine Forest in the DeSoto National Forest

Pine Forest in the DeSoto National Forest

Mississippi holds many adventures for outdoor lovers, and one of the best destinations you can head in your RV is the DeSoto National Forest. This pine forest paradise has lovely rolling hills and streams running through inviting visitors to throw in a line to make a trophy catch.

The forest is big! But you can start out in Hattiesburg and work your way either north or south for a journey you will never forget. Hattiesburg is also a wonderful place to stay a while and enjoy the marvelous Southern foods. There is a lot to see in the city, with quaint shops and cultural sites.

You will find plenty of RV camping in all directions. One favorite is the Long Leaf Horse Trail Campground which is near Laurel. Situated in the pine woods, you will find a limited number of pull-through spaces and a lot of great hiking and fishing for blue gill and bass. Near Sand Hill, you will find the Turkey Fork Campground with electric and water hookups. There is also a lake with a boat ramp and water skiing is permitted.

Throughout DeSoto National Forest, there are adventures for the whole family, from hiking and biking to hunting and fishing. The vastness of the wilderness holds one enthralled with the opportunities. For instance, Black Creek Wilderness is one place to get away from it all. The only developed area is the Black Creek Trail, where you can hike up to 40 miles if you so choose.

For over 60 miles of trails to choose from, try the Tuxachanie National Recreation Trail which follows an old rail line part of the way. You can hike through swamps, savannahs and forests. You can go all the way to POW Lake, but ensure you are ready for a day-long hike. Or you can hike the 10-mile round trip trek to Airey Lake.

One trail camp for the Tuxachanie Trail is the Airey Lake Recreation Area. There is a lovely lake where you can fish for perch, bass or catfish. Another place outdoors people love to go is the Big Creek Landing Recreation Area. Here you will find hiking and horse trails which appeal to outdoor enthusiasts. There is just a never-ending opportunity for fun in DeSoto National Forest.

If you bring along your ATV, you will discover a wide array of trails, such as the Rattlesnake Bay ATV Trail just south of New Augusta, Mississippi. Lots of sand and some wet places due to low-lying areas, but you won’t mind once you get going. Bethel ATV trail is another – 37 miles of pure ATV or motorcycle bliss.

Check out the hardwood forests of the Ragland Hills and the amazing pitcher plants at Buttercup Flats. More wilderness adventures await you at the Leaf Wilderness Area and the Turkey Fork Recreation Area (PDF). Turkey Fork Lake is situated among the towering pines and offers a multitude of recreational activities.

Your RV vacation to DeSoto National Forest will be one to remember, with so many outdoor recreational opportunities that you won’t be able to do them all in one visit. This means you’ll have to return again in an RV to experience the fun!

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An RV Trip Along the Gulf Coast from Biloxi to Tallahassee

There is nothing quite like an RV trip along the Gulf Coast for a special winter getaway. A drive that will inspire is going from Biloxi, Mississippi to Tallahassee, Florida. There are many places to see along the way as well as a multitude of activities. Biloxi offers historical sites, parks and charming boutiques and shops to browse. The rivers and bayous invite you to come explore.

Leaving Biloxi, you take Route 90 or Bienville Blvd across Biloxi Bay. Stop at Pascagoula River Front Park for some fascinating bird watching. Then at the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge you will want to stop and view the wetlands, salt marshes and see the wildlife that live here. There are over 10,000 acres filled with bays, bayous and wet pine savanna.

Picture of the Southeastern Shore of Dauphin Island

Southeastern Shore of Dauphin Island

Heading east, you will come upon Dauphin Island with its unspoiled landscape. In town you can enjoy some Southern cuisine and stroll the white sandy beaches. You will find RV camping at Dauphin Island Campground with secluded white beaches and plenty of fishing. If you have brought your boat, you will find a free boat launch. Or you can charter an excursion boat.

Head north to Mobile, Alabama where there is a long list of things to do. Visit the museums or the botanical gardens. The Battleship Alabama is worth a visit too. When you reach Pensacola, Florida you have more attractions that could keep you busy for the rest of the week. A hands-on zoo is wonderful for the kids.

Gulf Islands National Seashore offers wonderful activities for the whole family. Tour the fort or beachcomb the beaches. You can’t forget the camera. If you haven’t taken it out yet, now is the time to do so. The waters of the Gulf shine brightly and the sunsets are particularly vivid. Cross Escambia Bay on the Pensacola Bay Bridge and continue your travel close to the Gulf along the Emerald Coast.

Fort Walton Beach Park or any of the parks in this area are marvelous spots to enjoy the sun and get out and stretch a bit. Okaloosa Island has beaches made up of Appalachian quartz and the waters are emerald green. Play golf or take a boat cruise. The possibilities are virtually endless. As you move on to your final destination, Highway 98 takes you pretty much the rest of the way on your RV trip.

Stop at Topsail Hill State Park for more white beaches and huge towering dunes. You can fish from the shore to catch bass, catfish or bream. Take some time to do some bird watching or hiking. Point Washington State Forest will be your next stop, with cypress swamps that contain many wild animals and birds. Perhaps you will catch a glimpse of the endangered gopher tortoise or the Flatwoods salamander.

Before you reach Tallahassee, stop at Deer Lake State Park with a rare coastal dune lake and plan a picnic on the beach. You can get across the dunes on a boardwalk. Finally you reach Tallahassee, Florida with its rich history. Take time before you head home to see some of the sights and do some shopping. What a grand winter vacation in an RV!

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An RV Trip along the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville

Picture of the Birdsong Hollow Bridge

The Birdsong Hollow Bridge

Hopping in your RV for a winter trip along the Natchez Trace Parkway is something you need to plan in the coming months. This 444-mile drive offers unbelievable scenery and plenty of American history. The “Old Trace” is a path that involved Indians, settlers and presidents. Outdoor recreation is abundant too!

Start out in Nashville, TN and stay awhile to enjoy the sights to see in “Music City.” Before you begin your travels along the parkway, you will want to get caught up in all Nashville has to offer the visitor. There is always a huge calendar of events which showcases the best musical experiences you can imagine.

There is no doubt that your first stop should be the Grand Ole Opry House on Opryland Drive. Pick up a concert schedule and get tickets to see some of the best country music artists around. This spot has launched many careers. Then visit the Hermitage to see exhibits, a film about the history of President Andrew Jackson. This Antebellum plantation is now restored and is a fabulous museum.

More history is waiting for you at the Belle Meade Plantation where you get a true flavor of the historic American south. Then head over to 5th Avenue South to take in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville’s entertainment district. You will find many treasures that will bring back memories of country music as it used to be. Then at the Tennessee State Museum experience a long list of historic displays that highlight periods in Tennessee from prehistoric times to the Civil War and Reconstruction.

In the evening, you will want to spend some time on the General Jackson Showboat. This 300-foot-long paddlewheel riverboat is styled just like those that moved up and down the waterways in the south in the 1800s. Have a delicious dinner, dance on the deck under the stars and relax. You can also enjoy a cruise in the daylight hours.

Now you are ready to take off on the Natchez Trace Parkway and travel south out of Nashville. This is a year round drive that is sure to please any RVer. However, you must make it a point to fill up before leaving Nashville as there is only one gas station on the Parkway. It is located at mile 193. Stop along the way to hike, fish or take part in special events. Rangers can give you schedules so you can plan your itinerary.

When you come to Birdsong Hollow, stop near the arched bridge and take in the view. You can see its innovative design from north of the bridge at the parking area, or taking the exit ramp just south of the bridge which takes you to Highway 96. From here you will be looking up at the entire length. Be sure to have your camera handy.

When you come to Tennessee Valley Divide you will be at milepost 423.9 and can stop for some fresh air, stretch your legs and take in the views. Then you will want to visit the Phosphate Mine for a real treat. You can hike for five minutes to a railroad bed and collapsed mineshaft for a unique experience. As you drive on and move south of the Tennessee State line, there are opportunities for short walks, stops at prehistoric mound sites and other historical points of interest. At Colbert Ferry in Alabama you can park in the parking area and walk a short distance up a small path to see Colbert’s stand where travelers stopped for shelter. Add on another twenty minutes of walking and you will come to a bluff overlook.

You will come to the Bear Creek Mound and Village Site before leaving Alabama and entering Mississippi. This was a ceremonial site in 1100 to 1300 A.D. This is at milepost 308.8 and is free of charge to view. Another great stop is the Twentymile Bottom Overlook. You may see other places to pull over and enjoy the Mississippi weather.

Tupelo, Mississippi is a wonderful place to stop off to do some shopping and to see the birthplace of Elvis Presley. You will also like to visit the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo. You will find the Natchez Trace RV Park is just south of Tupelo and offers wonderful RV camping.

You will finally reach Natchez, Mississippi which is the end of your trip. This is the oldest settlement on the Mississippi. Be sure to allot some time to stay here a while so you can wind down from your drive and enjoy some browsing in the shops and grab some incredibly good food.

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Get Away from the Cold on an RV Trip to Biloxi, Mississippi

Biloxi, Mississippi is a wonderful Gulf Coast city that offers much to the winter vacationer. An RV vacation to Biloxi is bound to please. There is nothing like the warmer temperatures to lure a family on a trip to Mississippi. The fun available is more than you might think. You can pull your RV into Cajun RV Park in Biloxi to make your home base. It’s a great place to stay while you are here exploring as they have all sorts of amenities and are right across from the beach.

The first order of business on this southern vacation is to get a little history. But don’t worry. You will soon be outdoors in the gentle winter sun. Visiting the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library is truly a must. Beauvoir was where Davis retired, a lovely retreat on the coast. Touring the Presidential Library will be possible in early 2013, so when you arrive in Biloxi, you should check if it is open yet. There will be some amazing exhibits focusing on Jefferson Davis’ life.

Now it is time to get into the outdoors and see what there is to do to fill your days. There is plenty! Head on down to the water and charter a boat cruise. This is the one of the favorite ways to experience this area. While near the water, you’ll want to stop in at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum. You will love seeing the maritime history of Biloxi and the Gulf Coast.

The Desoto National Forest offers some scenic vistas of rolling hills and pine ridges, as well as many year round activities for outdoor lovers. Spend an afternoon bird watching or take time for a picnic in the woods. If you have an ATV, you will find trails to accommodate. Riding horseback, hunting, fishing – it’s all here.

Of course, hiking is the best in this National Forest. The Black Creek Trail is a long trek through beautiful woodlands. You can get a map and break your hike into manageable sections if you prefer. Most of the trail moves along beside Black Creek, with its tea-colored waters. Another trail you will want to try is the Tuxachanie Trail, a National Recreation Trail with a 22-mile hike through the forests. One easy section to hike is the first five miles to an abandoned railroad. You may spot a wild orchid on your hike, too. Don’t forget the camera!

There are other trails for you to enjoy as well. The Big Foot Horse Trail offers some great hiking for beginners or experienced hikers. Choose a section that ranges in length from five to eleven miles. Have your bicycle along with you? The Bethel Bicycle Trail currently has eight miles of trail open for riding.

A unique vacation activity is to take a boat or ferry out to the Barrier Islands of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. There are five islands off the shore of Mississippi – Ship, Cat, Horn, Deer and Petit Bois Islands. Each one is unique and special.

Now that you have truly enjoyed Biloxi to the fullest extent, you can go home knowing that someday you will definitely be back. There is nothing quite like Biloxi.

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Take the Mississippi Blues Highway on a Festive RV Vacation

Take a musical journey on a stretch of highway made famous for the Mississippi Delta music that has filled the air along this byway. The Mississippi Blues Highway will take you from Memphis, TN and through Mississippi and the historic towns that were written about by many memorable blues artists. You will experience the thrill of the legendary junction of Highways 61 and 49 where a blues master sold his soul. Allow enough time to stop at the blues spots and enjoy many incredible performances along the way.

While in Memphis, you should stop by the Stax Museum of American Soul Music to marvel at the more than 2,000 exhibits, including photos, instruments and costumes for stage performances. When you want the real thing, you can take a tour of the Memphis nightclubs in the evening and a trip down the delta during the day. Hit the famous Beale Street and don’t forget to try some of the amazing barbecue in town.

Travel south on Highway 61 until you reach Tunica. Go to the visitor center to find out all available for you here, because there is a lot to do and see. Tour the Blues Markers for a feel for all the musical endeavors that went down in the area. Visit the Tunica Museum for more history of a bit different nature. Admission is free, and who can pass that up?

Clarksdale, a bit further down the road, offers more live music. Plenty of blues joints to visit, and a historic cotton farm to see – the Hopson Plantation. It is a pleasure to sample some of Mississippi hospitality here, and visit with other like-minded souls. The delta has its own flavor and culture which gives you a wider view of our world today.

While in Clarksdale, be sure to visit the famous nightclub Ground Zero Blues Club, owned by actor Morgan Freeman. Next door you can stop by the Delta Blues Museum for another taste of history and to explore our musical heritage. Stay a while and park your RV at Coahoma County Expo Center – reasonable rates and great amenities.

Taking Highway 49 south from Clarksdale, you will reach Greenwood with its wide variety of blues culture. There are three museums that display many historical artifacts. The Museum of the Mississippi Delta may not focus on the blues, but you can see many original paintings, drawings and a collection of items on the animals, antiques and agriculture of the Mississippi Delta. If you are in the area during October, don’t miss the Cotton Capital Blues Festival, a must for any blues lover.

Whether you take 49 or go back to Highway 61, the rest of your trip is a pleasant one, until you get to Vicksburg, when it takes on new meaning. This is a town of importance on the Mississippi Blues Highway, but also for its part in the Civil War. You can visit Vicksburg National Military Park to discover the past. Blues clubs are abundant and you can still find a lot of toe-tapping music, as well as plenty of festivals and events that happen all year long. What an RV vacation! You will have to do this again!

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A Mississippi Coastal RV Camping Itinerary

An RV trip to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast can be summed up in three ways, “easy to reach, easy on the eyes and easy, affordable RV camping.” If you’ve been waiting to visit Mississippi’s fascinating southern shores, wait no more. The beaches are open and attractions are waiting to entertain your entire family. This sample Mississippi coastal RV camping itinerary can help you plan an unforgettable vacation.

As we mentioned, Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is easy to reach, thanks to mighty I-10 that rolls across the US from Jacksonville to Los Angeles. Once you’ve arrived in Mississippi, you can swing south to Highway 90 to reach coastal towns with such magical names as Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis and Gautier.

Let’s start our Mississippi coastal RV camping itinerary in the Pascagoula area, near the state’s eastern border. Pascagoula may be a busy international port, but it’s also steeped in historic charm and an unparalleled variety of ecosystems.

To experience the area’s natural beauty, be sure to visit the Gulf Coast Gator Ranch in Mosspoint, MS, adjacent to the magnificent Grand Bay Estuary. History buffs should also make it a point to see the LaPointe-Krebs House, still standing after almost three hundred years.

Picture of Horn Island in the Gulf Islands National Seashore

Horn Island in the Gulf Islands National Seashore

Moving down the road to Ocean Springs, RV campers have the chance to experience the Gulf Islands National Seashore through the visitor center in the Davis Bayou area. Easy, affordable RV camping is available on-site at Davis Bayou Campground. To make a stop here even more attractive, outdoor recreation fans will also enjoy a pleasure boat or kayaking tour on the Pascagoula River!

Just across Biloxi Bay by way of the Ocean Springs-Biloxi Bay Bridge stands the vibrant coastal city of Biloxi, Mississippi. One must-see attraction on your Mississippi coastal RV camping itinerary is Biloxi Lighthouse. This historic light stands in the median of I-90, creating a wonderfully picturesque focal point for vacation photos. The lighthouse was rededicated in early 2010 after extensive restoration following Hurricane Katrina. Be sure to catch the open air “Shrimp Train” at the base of the lighthouse for a fascinating tour through Biloxi’s historic district.

Although Biloxi itself is worthy of an entire vacation, let’s keep rolling toward Gulfport. As we go, we should mention that some of the best gaming in the South can be found at the Gulf Coast Casinos between Biloxi and Bay St. Louis. You’ll also find the swimming beaches open along the same stretch of Hwy 90 (Beach Blvd), so leave time to enjoy the white sand and safe swimming areas.

While in the Gulfport-Biloxi area, slow down and enjoy the music! Casino and hotel nightclubs, as well as local taverns and sports bars, offer a wide variety of live entertainment. Be sure to sample Mississippi’s famous blues scene and treat yourself to samplings of jazz and zydeco for a true Gulf Coast musical experience. RV campgrounds such as Gulf Haven Campground, just off Hwy 90, offer world-famous Mississippi hospitality to weary travelers.

As you continue your RV journey across the Mississippi Gulf Coast, plan to spend some time on the Wolf River near Long Beach. Outfitters offer exciting paddling trips up the river, and RV parks like Magic River Resort further showcase the natural beauty of Mississippi.

You’ll finish your RV exploration of Mississippi’s Gulf Shore in the towns of Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian and Waveland, each with their own unique charms. Extremely affordable RV camping sets the scene to explore the antiques shops, historic buildings and the area’s exciting casinos. Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis, for example, offers its own RV campground, making it simple to enjoy a night of gaming. One more tip: don’t miss the chance to visit the NASA-Stennis Space Center’s Visitor Center before completing your trip.

With all these attractions waiting to be discovered, you’d never guess it’s only sixty miles from Pascagoula all the way to Mississippi’s western shore. The cities of Mississippi’s southern shoreline, however, will persuade you to slow down and enjoy an extended RV camping journey. Why not use our Mississippi coastal RV camping itinerary as the start of your own love affair with the Magnolia State?

The picture of Horn Island is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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Mississippi RV Vacation Destination – Stennis Space Center

Here at El Monte RV Rentals, we’re always on the lookout for places our readers can visit within easy reach of top-notch RV campgrounds. The Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi definitely fills the bill. Use these tips to plan your own trip to this premier Gulf Coast destination.

What to Do at Stennis Space Center
One thing Hancock County, MS and the folks at Stennis Space Center do well is offering visitors a gracious welcome. The tour bus to the Space Center actually begins at the Hancock County Welcome Center on I-10. This gives visitors a chance to learn more about Bay St Louis area attractions, as well as giving them a guide-hosted ride to Stennis Space Center.

What you’ll find once your tour bus arrives is an amazing complex of space shuttle engine testing areas and the StenniSphere Visitors Center. Inside the StenniSphere, there’s a wide array of exhibits explaining past NASA missions, a fascinating collection of space exploration memorabilia and exhibits that teach visitors about the Gulf Coast.

Plan to spend several hours touring the StenniSphere—there’s even a “RocKeTeria” serving meals to hungry visitors! The kids will love the hands-on exhibits that let them test rocket engines and simulate space travel. RV travelers tells us the outdoor exhibits are equally engaging, giving an up-close view of rockets, space shuttle engines and aircraft used by the NASA.

Once you’ve visited Stennis Space Center, be sure to visit historic Bay St. Louis, a beach-front town that’s weathered the storms and still offers a charming experience to its visitors. A helpful guide to the city’s many attractions can be found at

Where to Camp in Bay St. Louis
Top-rated campgrounds close to Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis include these award winners:

  • Bay Hideaway – A Woodall’s Camping Directory favorite in a secluded setting.
  • Bay Marina and RV Park – Offers RV campers easy boat access to Edwards Bayou.
  • Casino RV parks in Bay St. Louis can be found at the Hollywood Casino and Silver Slipper Casino (camping on the beach!).

There’s really no “bad” place to camp in Bay St. Louis, with ocean-front camping and quiet, tree-lined campgrounds throughout the area.

Stretch your minds with mind-boggling scientific exhibits celebrating our nation’s space exploration, and then stretch out on a beach or in a lawn chair under the trees. That’s what you can look forward to on a trip to Stennis Space Center and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

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RV Travel Along the Natchez Trace Parkway

Natchez Trace ParkwayDid you know there’s a road RV travelers can follow, from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN, that beautifully brings to life American history and a wide range of natural wonders? The Natchez Trace Parkway starts in the Mississippi River town of Natchez and rolls four hundred forty four miles north across the northwestern corner of Alabama on its way to Tennessee. Drive the entire route and you’ll come home with a deeper knowledge of early American history and the beauty of the South.

Places to See Along the Natchez Trace Parkway
So what, exactly, is there to see along this legendary Southern parkway? You won’t see flashing signs and the clutter of commerce, thanks to great planning by the National Park Service. But just off the road there’s everything an RV camper might need.

Because there are absolutely dozens of attractions along the way, let’s break the route highlights down into two types – natural and historical:

Natchez Trace Parkway Natural Attractions

We mentioned the beauty of the South along the Natchez Trace Parkway, and you’ll discover it in every season. Here are some highlights along the route:

  • Rocky Springs Trail north of Port Gibson, MS, where horseback riders and hikers will find themselves challenged by steep ridges and rocky outcroppings in a gorgeous forest setting.
  • Ross Barnett Reservoir in Central Mississippi offers some of the nicest RV campgrounds around, plus the chance to fish for the lake’s legendary catfish.
  • Tombigbee National Forest south of Tupelo, MS is a great place to stop and hike, bike or visit historic Owl Creek and Bynum Burial Mounds
  • Freedom Hills Overlook in Alabama is worth a stop, to see the sights from the highest point along the Trace.
  • Alabama’s Tishomingo State Park is a photographer’s dream, with gigantic boulder formations and a scenic drive through the heart of the Appalachian foothills.
  • Cross the mighty Tennessee River into Tennessee and find prime hiking spots like Sweetwater Branch and favorite fishing holes such as Laurel Hill Lake.
  • Continue north through southern Tennessee mining country to Devil’s Backbone State Natural Area for a chance to hike along the Highland Rim.
  • If you’re up for a strenuous hike, by all means visit Jackson Falls and Baker Bluff Overlook north of the Meriwether Lewis Memorial.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the splendid scenery to be found along the Natchez Trace Parkway! Plan time in your itinerary to follow side roads and make spontaneous detours as the sights unfold.

Natchez Trace Parkway Historical Attractions
Here are some of the historic places our readers highly recommend along the Parkway (from south to north):

All along the Natchez Trace Parkway, you’ll be offered the chance to visit historic colleges, plantations and a number of burial mounds sacred to Native American tribes. NPS visitor centers in spots like Tupelo, MS feature special events such as Dulcimer Day, Pioneer Day and living history re-enactments of early river travel and exploration.

Immerse yourself in the time of trappers and traders in towns like Pigeon Roost and French Camp, Mississippi. Make a stop at Tupelo National Battlefield for a better understanding of the war that changed the South forever. There’s literally an historic place waiting to be explored around every bend in the Parkway.

So, are you ready to follow the Natchez Trace in your RV? You’ll be happy to know the National Park Service has provided a helpful list of private and public campgrounds near the Natchez Trace Parkway (PDF). Whether you choose to camp at Elvis Presley Lake Campground near Tupelo, MS or Many Cedars Trail Ride & Campground near Hohenwald, TN, you’re sure to find a friendly, scenic campsite waiting.

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