Did 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):
- Grand Village of the Natchez Indians State Historic Park in Natchez, MS
- Natchez National Historical Park
- Colbert Ferry on the Tennessee River
- Meriwether Lewis Memorial Site near Grinder’s Stand, Tennessee
- Tobacco Farm and Old Trace Drive north of the Meriwether Lewis Memorial
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.