The Parkway follows the route of the old Natchez Trace, a path used for centuries by the original inhabitants of the land. Later it was used by early European explorers. Parts of the Trace are still in existence and many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Trace mostly follows a geologic ridgeline, and before even the Native Americans used it, animals were taking advantage of the dry, high ground to move from Tennessee to the grazing lands south of the Mississippi.
Old Natchez Trace Remnants
by Chris M Norris Flickr Creative Commons
Nashville is a great spot to pick up a campervan rental, and also to listen to some country music- it is the country capital of the United States, and where Taylor Swift went to get a record deal. If you like country and western, stick around for a while and see what's on! To get to the Natchez Trace Parkway, head out of town on West End Ave/Highway 100 until the exit onto the Parkway appears. History buffs could also take a detour through Franklin, a southern suburb which was the site of a civil war battle in 1864.
Nashville at Night
by Kenton Forshee Flickr Creative Commons
Heading south towards the state border, the road passes through both wooded areas and the open spaces of Tenessee's horse and farm country. One of the only structures remaining from the original Trace lies along this stretch of the road- Gordon House, the house of John Gordon who was a ferry operator on the Duck River, helping people across to continue with their journey.
There is a short trek across Alabama before crossing into Mississippi. A quick detour off the Parkway here will take you to Florence, a port on the Tennessee River which is dammed near the city to form Pickwick Lake and Wilson Lake. There is a wide river crossing where the Parkway traverses, and on the southern bank you will find the Colbert Ferry Park, where George Colbert once offered a ferry service and inn to travellers.
The Parkway crosses the Tennessee River
by Jamie Flickr Creative Commons
The road crosses into Mississippi not long before coming to Bay Springs Lake. This is a reservoir surrounded by various Recreation Areas, a great place to stop and enjoy. There is also a campground there, Piney Grove, which is an option for an overnight stop should you want one!
The Pharr mounds are another interesting historic point along this road. These 8 burial mounds date back to 1-200AD. These range in size and four of them were excavated by the National Park Service to reveal internal features including clay platforms and fire pits.
by Jamie Flickr Creative Commons
The Trace passes through the fields of Mississippi where soybeans and cottons grow (sounding like a country song), and passes through Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis. This is another great option for an overnight stay, especially for those who love the King.
Near the end of the route is Jackson, state capital of Mississippi. There is a great live music scene here, focused on soul music like gospel, soul and RnB. After crossing the cultivated floodplain, passing Natchez State Park and traversing a forested ridge, the Parkway terminates at Natchez.
Mississippi State Capitol
by Ken Lund Flickr Creative Commons
The most convenient place to hire an RV for this trip is Nashville! Have a look here for great deals on USA RV rental.
Author: Phil Wright+