Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates this campaign and its significance as a critical turning point of the Civil War.
Mississippi's abundant water resources and mild climate provide residents and tourists with recreational opportunities throughout the year. Facilities for water sports include boating, swimming, and fishing in almost all the state-administered parks and recreation areas and in the recreation areas administered by the federal government.
The National Park Service administers seven units in Mississippi. Four of them, Tupelo National Battlefield, Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg National Cemetery, and Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site, are associated with the American Civil War (1861-1865). Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates the siege and defense of Vicksburg, one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War. Today the battlefield at Vicksburg includes more than 1300 monuments and markers, reconstructed trenches and earthworks, and cannon emplacements. The Vicksburg National Cemetery, established in 1866, contains more than 18,000 graves. The identities of those in nearly three-quarters of the graves are unknown. Soldiers from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War (1898), World War I (1914-1918), World War II (1939-1945), and the Korean War (1950-1953) are buried in the cemetery. Natchez Trace Parkway, most, but not all, of which lies in Mississippi, follows the route of a historic Native American and pioneer road.
The Mississippi section of the Gulf Islands National Seashore contains Fort Massachusetts and several primitive offshore islands. The newest unit, Natchez National Historical Park, is centered among one of the country's best-preserved concentrations of homes from the time before the Civil War, known as the antebellum period.
The six national forests in Mississippi cover 1,153,000 acres. The largest, De Soto National Forest, covers more than 500,000 acres of dense pine forest in the southeast. The other forests are Bienville, Delta, Holly Springs, Homochitto, and Tombigbee. Most of them have camping, hunting, fishing, and boating facilities.
Mississippi had 27 state parks in the mid-1990s. The oldest and among the largest is Leroy Percy State Park, set in a bayou area along the Mississippi River. Another is Tishomingo, in the rolling hills and woodlands of northeastern Mississippi. Percy Quin, in southern Mississippi, has hiking trails through pine and oak forests. Tombigbee is in pine-forested countryside in the northeast. Clarkco, in the east, is noted for its plant and animal life.
The Sam Dale State Historic Site, near Daleville, honors General Sam Dale, a frontiersman and hero of the War of 1812. The Nanih Waiya State Historic Site, in east-central Mississippi, features a mound considered by the Choctaw to be sacred.
The Gulf Coast region is the most popular resort area in the state and is the site of notable historic attractions. One of them, the Old Spanish Fort, at Pascagoula, is said to be the oldest existing building in the lower Mississippi Valley. Built in 1718 as a carpenter's or blacksmith's shack, it and an associated museum adjoin a cemetery containing the graves of early settlers. Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, stands near Biloxi.
The Natchez area is the center of antebellum architecture in Mississippi. Many of the mansions and their beautiful gardens are open to visitors. Additional places of interest are found in and around Jackson and Vicksburg. In Jackson are the Governor's Mansion, completed in 1842, and the former state capitol, which dates from the 1830s. The capitol building, seat of the state legislature until 1903, now houses the Mississippi State Historical Museum.
Places to visit at Vicksburg include the Old Courthouse Museum, which contains mementos of the Confederacy; and the Cairo, a restored Civil War gunboat, which contains various historical artifacts from that era.
The casinos in Mississippi are all located, as required by law, on naturally navigable waterways aboard permanently moored vessels. There are concentrations of resort casinos along the Gulf Coast and at several sites on the Mississippi River. The one exception is the casino not under state control located on the Choctaw reservation in Neshoba County.