Written by: Anna Sibal and Julian Fenn
03/07/2013 9:00 AM
A road trip down the Natchez Trace Parkway can be an awe-inspiring experience. It may not hit you at first, but when you drive along the Parkway, you'd be traveling down the approximation of a 10,000-year-old pathway so steeped in history that, if it could, it would tell you tales of wonder you'd never read in any book. For hundreds of years, the Natchez Trace was used by Native Americans - the Natchez, the Choctaw and the Chickasaw Indians, in particular - to track bison and to trade with other settlements. When the Europeans came to the North American continent, the French and the Spanish trudged along the Trace to conquer and establish territories. After the American Revolutionary War, the Trace served as an important commercial land route linking Natchez in Mississippi to Louisiana's New Orleans. Today, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a window to many colorful chapters in America's past, offering endless panoramic views that invite you to stop and drink them in. 2013 is also a good year to visit the Parkway as it celebrates its 75th Anniversary on May 18.
When to Go
You can visit the Natchez Trace Parkway any time of the year. However, the best time to take your road trip along the Parkway is in the Spring and Fall when the famous Natchez Pilgrimage Tours take place and when all the famous historic attractions along the Parkway are open to visitors. If you're going on the pilgrimage, you ought to plan ahead and reserve as early as possible.
How to Get There
There are two ways to approach a road trip along the Natchez Trace Parkway. One, you can start at the northern terminus of the Parkway, located some 17 miles southwest of Nashville, Tennessee. There, Tennessee Highway 100 intersects with Milepost 444 of the Parkway. The other approach is the southern terminus of the Parkway, at Liberty Road in Natchez, Mississippi. Liberty Road is the Parkway's Milepost 0.
How Long Should the Trip Be?
We recommend five leisurely days according to the itinerary set out below. This itinerary follows the Parkway from Milepost 0 to Milepost 444. If you want to begin your road trip from the northern terminus near Nashville, just follow this itinerary in reverse.
What to See and Do
There are so many places you can visit and activities you can engage in when you visit the Natchez Trace Parkway. You can go hiking or horseback riding. If you are a cycling enthusiast, the entire Parkway is a road designated for cyclists. You can camp and picnic at designated spots along the Parkway. You can go fishing or watch birds. Most of all, you can explore the landmarks and monuments that commemorate all that history that was made on the Natchez Trace.
Five Day Visit - Natchez to Nashville - About 460 miles
Day One - Natchez, Mississippi
Spend the day doing the Natchez Pilgrimage Tour and exploring the historic buildings of Natchez.
Day Two - Natchez to Rocky Springs - 60 miles
Day Three - Rocky Springs to Jeff Busby - 150 miles
Day Four - Jeff Busby to Tishomingo State Park - 111 miles
Day Five - Tishomingo State Park to the end of the Parkway - 140 miles
Tips for Driving the Natchez Trace Parkway
Here are a few tips that will help ensure you'll have a great time driving along the Natchez Trace Parkway:
A road trip down the Natchez Trace Parkway is a trip you should take at least once in your life. Not only is the Parkway teeming with views of splendid natural beauty, but it is also a portal back in time. So pack your bags and load your RV for an unforgettable trip down the Natchez Trace Parkway.
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