Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Southern History Book of the Month: Exploring Wild Alabama: A Guide to the State’s Publicly Accessible Natural Areas

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

Exploring Wild Alabama: A Guide to the State’s Publicly Accessible Natural Areas
Kenneth M. Wills and L.J. Davenport

It’s the middle of summer and a great time for vacations. But maybe you don’t have an extended trip planned, or don’t care for long trips away from home anyway. Maybe you prefer shorter excursions to augment your “staycation.” If so, Exploring Wild Alabama is an excellent resource for discovering the state’s natural wonders. This guide shows the geographic regions of Alabama and provides GPS coordinates and helpful symbols for the activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, and canoeing that are available to the public at each location.

When I was paging through Exploring Wild Alabama, the description of Sipsey Wilderness resonated with me because the first time I ever walked through it, I was fresh from a recent reading of J.R.R. Tolkien:
The canyons of the Sipsey Wilderness truly contain an “enchanted forest.” Each canyon, with its steep sandstone cliffs, shows a waterfall at its head during the wetter times of the year; such a cool microclimate allows the eastern hemlock to thrive far south of its expected range. Standing in one of those canyons makes you feel as if you were looking at a set for a Lord of the Rings movie or the stage for a Wagnerian opera.
I can definitely remember similar thoughts as I walked through those trails, climbed over rocks, and admired waterfalls. I had a similar experience while I was reading the Coastal Zone section because there is a beautiful color photograph of a pitcher plant—a carnivorous plant I’d read about but never seen—and I still remember seeing them for the first time on family vacations to the Gulf Coast.

So whether you are in need of a vacation, a day trip with the family, a brief weekend getaway, or just something you haven’t seen before, consult Exploring Wild Alabama. And don’t be in too much of a hurry, because there are plenty of destinations here for a lifetime of sightseeing. As the authors themselves suggest:  ". . . slow down in order to best enjoy Alabama’s natural wonders! Pick one location at a time and get to know it well."

Which Alabama destinations are on your list this summer?

For further information:
Exploring Wild Alabama on Facebook
Kenneth M. Wills and L.J. Davenport on Absolutely Alabama
Alabama Road Trips
Natural Wonders of Alabama—Only in Your State

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