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3 Destinations in the American South (You Haven't Been To)

Image courtesy: http://flickr.com/photos/21078769@N00

 

So, you think you've explored the USA? Hiked the Grand Tetons? Trekked the Grand Canyon? Paddled the Boundary Waters?

But have you been to these three off-radar locales?

Horse Pens 40, Alabama: Bouldering Mecca

Difficulty: Intermediate-Advanced

A privately-owned recreation area, Horse Pens 40—near Steele—is home to one of the most concentrated boulder fields on the planet. It’s an impressive collection of hardened (and sometimes not-so-hardened) sandstone littered amongst the deciduous trees and grasslands. And it’s been attracting boulderers for decades—stumping even pros with rock-problems rated beyond V11. (That’s climbing talk for really, really tough.) Fall and winter and considered the best times to climb. There’s a small fee to enter (approximately $8), and climbers can camp onsite at HP40 for a few bucks more.

Bombay Hook, Delaware: Birdwatcher's Delight

Difficulty: Beginner

Covering almost 16,000 acres of ecologically valuable salt marsh on Delaware Bay, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge beckons birdwatchers the world-round. More than 300 bird species have been logged at Bombay Hook—most of which are migratory. Impressive bald eagles are frequently spotted, as are shorebirds, waterfowl, sparrows and many more. Hop in your car and tour the 12-mile road through the reserve, popping out to walk along the five nature trails—all of which feature 30-foot-tall observation towers where you can set-up with a pair of binoculars and a telephoto lens.

Georgia's Epic Salt Marsh

Difficulty: Intermediate

Welcome to a less-travelled facet of Georgia’s outdoors—the massive salt marshes that cover more than 100 miles of coastline in this swampy state. But what do you do in this flooded, murky landscape of waterways and dense grass? Slip into a pair of waders and pack your seven-weight fly rod. You’re going sight-fishing for redfish. A hard-fighting fish that grows up to 10 pounds, casting to a rising redfish in anticipation of a vicious strike and feisty battle is worth slinking through the sloppy marsh for hours. Some intrepid anglers have even launch stand-up paddleboards to paddle and fish at the same time. Best thing? Zero crowds.