The North Carolina State Parks Showcase The Wonderful Scenery Of This Beautiful State
There are currently thirty five State Parks in North Carolina and they cover the most varied range of geographical features imaginable.
The parks include one sited on the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River, this is Mount Mitchell State Park. Jockey`s Ridge State Park is on the tallest sand dune on the Atlantic coast.
Hammocks Beach State Park is on three small islands off the coast. Lake Waccamaw State Park and Jones Lake State Park both highlight a unique feature found in that part of the United States, this is a "Carolina Bay."
There are also North Carolina State Parks which are found on the state`s beaches, lakes, rivers and swamps.
North Carolina is located on the eastern coast of the United States and can be divided into three different geographical sections.
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Sunrise In The Appalachian Mountains
The eastern section of the state contains the coastal plain and the Outer Banks which are a string of small sandy islands.
The Outer Banks form a sort of barrier between the Atlantic and two large inland Sounds. These are the Albemarle Sound in the north and the Pamlico Sound in the south.
The middle section of the state is an area called the Piedmont. This is the most densely populated part of North Carolina. Here the land consists of rolling countryside with a number of small isolated mountain ranges and peaks.
The mountains were considerably taller than they are now but erosion over the ages has left them a fraction of the size they once were. The height of these ranges vary from around 300 feet in the eastern Piedmont to over 1,000 feet in the western part.
Pilot Mountain North Carolina
The third section of the state, in the west, is part of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Here there are some impressive mountains and some of the most stunning scenery it is possible to imagine.
There are The Blue Ridge Mountains, The Great Smoky Mountains and The Black Mountains. It is in the Black Mountains that you find Mount Mitchell which, at 6,684 feet is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi.
The system of state parks in North Carolina began in 1916 when Mount Mitchell was designated as the very first of the N.C. State Parks However, it didn`t actually open to the public until 1924.
Since then the system has constantly been expanded and improved. For example, in 2009 a tract of back-country land was purchased to add to the Grandfather Mountain State Park.
The Famous Bridge On Grandfather Mountain
Like many of the states on the eastern side of America, its early history is one of exploration and colonization by European countries. Spanish forces were the first to attempt settlements, but their efforts resulted in all but one of 120 settlers being slaughtered by the Native Americans.
The British queen, Elizabeth 1, granted a charter to Sir Walter Raleigh to establish two colonies on the coast in the 1580`s.
Both unfortunately failed. However, two things did come out of this early attempt at settling the new colony. In August 1587 the first English child was born in North America, her name was Virginia Dare and she is remembered by having Dare County, North Carolina named after her. Secondly the state capital, Raleigh, is named for the famous Sir Walter Raleigh.
After 1800 tobacco and cotton were both important export crops for the state, often being grown on large plantations located on the coastal plain and being worked with slave labour.
The American Civil War hit North Carolina hard. Although no major battles were fought on her soil over 20,000 men from the state were killed in battle while another 21,000 men died from disease.
Sunset at Lake Waccamaw State Park
One of the North Carolina State Parks is named after a hero of the Confederate Army. This is Pettigrew State Park which gets its name from General J.Johnston Pettigrew who died of wounds following the Battle of Gettysburg.
North Carolina is also famous as being the place where the first successful powered flight took place. Although the site at Kittyhawk is not one of the North Carolina State Parks it is instead a National Park with an impressive commemorative monument to the achievement of the Wright brothers.
Here is a North Carolina county map. Note the barrier islands and the two large bays.