An RV Trip along the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville

Picture of the Birdsong Hollow Bridge

The Birdsong Hollow Bridge

Hopping in your RV for a winter trip along the Natchez Trace Parkway is something you need to plan in the coming months. This 444-mile drive offers unbelievable scenery and plenty of American history. The “Old Trace” is a path that involved Indians, settlers and presidents. Outdoor recreation is abundant too!

Start out in Nashville, TN and stay awhile to enjoy the sights to see in “Music City.” Before you begin your travels along the parkway, you will want to get caught up in all Nashville has to offer the visitor. There is always a huge calendar of events which showcases the best musical experiences you can imagine.

There is no doubt that your first stop should be the Grand Ole Opry House on Opryland Drive. Pick up a concert schedule and get tickets to see some of the best country music artists around. This spot has launched many careers. Then visit the Hermitage to see exhibits, a film about the history of President Andrew Jackson. This Antebellum plantation is now restored and is a fabulous museum.

More history is waiting for you at the Belle Meade Plantation where you get a true flavor of the historic American south. Then head over to 5th Avenue South to take in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville’s entertainment district. You will find many treasures that will bring back memories of country music as it used to be. Then at the Tennessee State Museum experience a long list of historic displays that highlight periods in Tennessee from prehistoric times to the Civil War and Reconstruction.

In the evening, you will want to spend some time on the General Jackson Showboat. This 300-foot-long paddlewheel riverboat is styled just like those that moved up and down the waterways in the south in the 1800s. Have a delicious dinner, dance on the deck under the stars and relax. You can also enjoy a cruise in the daylight hours.

Now you are ready to take off on the Natchez Trace Parkway and travel south out of Nashville. This is a year round drive that is sure to please any RVer. However, you must make it a point to fill up before leaving Nashville as there is only one gas station on the Parkway. It is located at mile 193. Stop along the way to hike, fish or take part in special events. Rangers can give you schedules so you can plan your itinerary.

When you come to Birdsong Hollow, stop near the arched bridge and take in the view. You can see its innovative design from north of the bridge at the parking area, or taking the exit ramp just south of the bridge which takes you to Highway 96. From here you will be looking up at the entire length. Be sure to have your camera handy.

When you come to Tennessee Valley Divide you will be at milepost 423.9 and can stop for some fresh air, stretch your legs and take in the views. Then you will want to visit the Phosphate Mine for a real treat. You can hike for five minutes to a railroad bed and collapsed mineshaft for a unique experience. As you drive on and move south of the Tennessee State line, there are opportunities for short walks, stops at prehistoric mound sites and other historical points of interest. At Colbert Ferry in Alabama you can park in the parking area and walk a short distance up a small path to see Colbert’s stand where travelers stopped for shelter. Add on another twenty minutes of walking and you will come to a bluff overlook.

You will come to the Bear Creek Mound and Village Site before leaving Alabama and entering Mississippi. This was a ceremonial site in 1100 to 1300 A.D. This is at milepost 308.8 and is free of charge to view. Another great stop is the Twentymile Bottom Overlook. You may see other places to pull over and enjoy the Mississippi weather.

Tupelo, Mississippi is a wonderful place to stop off to do some shopping and to see the birthplace of Elvis Presley. You will also like to visit the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo. You will find the Natchez Trace RV Park is just south of Tupelo and offers wonderful RV camping.

You will finally reach Natchez, Mississippi which is the end of your trip. This is the oldest settlement on the Mississippi. Be sure to allot some time to stay here a while so you can wind down from your drive and enjoy some browsing in the shops and grab some incredibly good food.

Posted in Mississippi RV Camping, Mississippi RV Camping Vacation, National Parks, National Scenic Byways, RV Vacation, RV Vacation Ideas, Tennessee RV Camping, Tennessee RV Camping Vacation | Tagged | 2 Comments

Oregon Outback Scenic Byway by RV

Picture of the Paulina Creek Falls in the Deschutes National Forest

Paulina Creek Falls in the Deschutes National Forest

Central Oregon’s million-acre Deschutes National Forest offers RV camping vacation possibilities for the weekend, week-long or we’re-going-to-be-gone-awhile RV travelers. One of the most memorable ways to experience this vast forest is on the Outback Scenic Byway, from La Pine, OR through the heart of the forest to Lakeview. It’s a little over one hundred miles from end to end, but this byway is loaded with historic and natural wonders to discover. Plan to take your time and savor the Oregon Outback by RV.

Outback Scenic Byway Itinerary
The Outback Scenic Byway (Hwy 31) explores the volcanic slopes, mountain lakes, pine forests and sagebrush desert of Central Oregon. Beginning in La Pine, OR, in the heart of Deschutes NF, this byway travels south and soon passes near a number of fascinating historic and natural attractions. Fort Rock State Natural Area, a rugged desert volcanic formation, makes for excellent hiking (be sure to seek out the immense “Hole in the Ground” while you’re there.) Nearby Christmas Valley Sand Dunes offer RVers plenty of OHV action. And to learn about the area’s early settlers, visit the Homestead Village Museum in Fort Rock, OR.

And then it’s south on the Outback Scenic Byway through the village of Silver Lake, over Picture Rock Pass, where ancient petroglyphs can be seen, and into a wonderland of alkali lakes and natural hot springs. Plan a stay at Summer Lake Hot Springs RV Resort for a unique, spa-centered experience on the byway. Another way RVers love to experience Summer Lake is by hiking the eighteen-thousand-acre wildlife refuge. By the way, anglers will find nearby Ana Reservoir RV Park is close to rainbow trout and bass fishing hotspots.

Did we mention that part of the unique appeal of the Oregon Outback is the ability to drive for miles without seeing a house or a town? This is a place where pulling off at an overlook for panoramic views can be a solitary experience. But if you need a little civilization mixed in with open spaces, quaint towns along the Oregon Outback Scenic Byway fit the bill. Towns like Paisley, Christmas Valley and Fort Rock offer mercantiles, cafes and taverns, each with rugged desert charm. OregonsOutback.com has a nice listing of points of interest along the byway.

Let’s keep rolling to find the wonders of Lake Abert and the Abert Rim, about thirteen miles off the byway at Valley Falls. The lake is saline, inhabited only by brine shrimp, but that makes it the perfect place for bird watching! If you’re up to the challenge, hike to the Rim to capture magnificent photos from this quarter-mile-high rock formation above the high desert.

Just south of Lake Abert, RV camping rockhounds will find an Oregon Outback treasure, the Sunstone Gem Collection Area, where you can hunt for the state’s official gem. Once you’ve hunted for flashing stones in the desert, it’s time to head south again.

As you make the final run of this itinerary to the mountain town of Lakeview, plan to stay and play awhile. Settled at the base of the Warner Mountains, the area surrounding Lakeview is a wonderful place to hike, bike and fish. Keep your eyes to the sky and you may see hang-gliders launching from area bluffs. Junipers Reservoir RV Resort, located on a working cattle ranch, offers access to a wealth of outdoor recreation.

Want some memorable wildlife photos to take home from vacation? Visit Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, surrounded by a picturesque chain of lakes east of Lakeview. It’s likely you’ll also spy bighorn sheep, elk and deer along the way.

Ready for an Oregon RV camping adventure? The Oregon Outback is waiting for RV camping fans to come discover its rugged desert charm. We’ll help you find the perfect RV rental for your trip, and then it’s off to follow your imagination along the Oregon Outback Scenic Byway.

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RV Camping along the Turquoise Trail

There’s no better way to see the American Southwest than by getting off the interstate and following roads that wander through desert, mountains and little-visited villages. The Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway allows RV camping fans to do just that. Follow along as we offer our overview of New Mexico’s Turquoise Trail.

What You’ll See and Do on the Turquoise Trail
Taking the south to north route along the Turquoise Trail means starting your journey at Tijeras, New Mexico, seventeen miles east of Albuquerque on I40. Take the time while in Tijeras to make at least two stops – Tijeras Pueblo Archaeological Site and Cibola National Forest. You’ll gain new perspective on the Southwest’s earliest inhabitants and the immensity of a one million acre wilderness encompassing five mountain ranges.

Traveling on toward Sandia Crest on the Turquoise Trail you’ll pass through the villages of Cedar Crest and Sandia Park. Linger long enough to enjoy The Museum of Archaeology and Material Culture at Cedar Crest and such memorable roadside attractions as the Tinkertown Museum. Simply driving your RV through Cibola National Forest will take your breath away, but for a heart-stopping view high above the Turquoise Trail, travel to the ten-thousand-plus-feet peak of Sandia Crest by RV or on the Sandia Peak Tramway.

Once you’ve had your fill of the wonder of Sandia Crest, head your RV back down the mountain to Hwy 14 and the village of San Antonito. Continue north to the gold rush town of Golden, where you’ll find 1830s mining equipment along the road, surrounded by ruins to photograph and a general store to meet your travel needs.

And then it’s north to the historic mining town of Madrid (MAD-rid), where once mighty coal mines are now the backdrop for a thriving artist’s colony. Plan time to wander the streets searching for treasure at the galleries and shops; you’ll find the area’s legendary turquoise celebrated in many forms.

As you wind your way on mountain roads toward Cerrillos, keep an eye out for signs of the turquoise deposits that gave this byway its name. Stop to enjoy the Old West feel of Cerrillos, once a center for turquoise mining in the Southwest.

Finish your journey north to Santa Fe with a stop at San Marcos and Lone Butte, where reminders of the area’s mining history are everywhere. You’ll also find galleries, a sculpture garden and even an art institute to entertain you in these mountain villages.

Your next stop, Santa Fe is, of course, worthy of an entire blog post! This beautiful mountain city offers all the comforts of modern civilization in an ancient setting rich with Pueblo culture. Visit the galleries for which the city is famous and be sure to wander the streets near the Palace of the Governors for a true taste of Santa Fe’s fascinating history.

Where You Can Camp on the Turquoise Trail
Scenic campgrounds dot the landscape all along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. Here are just a few ideas to help you plan your RV trip.

This gem of a scenic byway is waiting to help you create fantastic RV vacation memories. Make your trek on the Turquoise Trail this year.

Posted in National Scenic Byways, New Mexico RV Camping, New Mexico RV Camping Vacation | Tagged | 1 Comment

Another Guest Blog Post – The Great River Road

This time we are in the Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel My Itchy Travel Feet. There we published Great River Road: An Epic RV Camping Journey. This article describes a wonderful RV trek along the the Mississippi River  “…passing through river towns, national forests and some pretty amazing scenery in ten states”.

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