Travelers with a love of nature and a bit of history will enjoy a road trip along Natchez Trace. Running through what was known as the “Old South West,” Natchez Trace passes through three states on its way from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi.
Travelers can enjoy this road trip in a variety of ways. They can commit heavily to having a wilderness adventure, spending their nights at campsites and their days on the trail. Others can use this road trip as a means of exploring the music, culture, and history that sprang out of this region.
What Is Natchez Trace?
Natchez Trace is the historic and scenic road from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi. The road passes across three rivers serving as a link between the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Mississippi rivers while also connecting three states.
The parkway is a historical drive that follows what was once a path used by Native Americans, European settlers, soldiers, and more. The original footpath road would be widened in 1809, so wagons could pass through. After the end of the Civil War, the road would go nearly forgotten until the Daughters of the Revolution fought for its preservation. Eventually, the National Park Service took over the park in 1938.
In current times, the road is still managed by the National Park Service, with the parkway finally completed in 2005. The parkway is essentially a long and narrow national park. It has campgrounds, historical markers, and maintained hiking trails as any national park would.
- Origin – Foot Path
- Operated By – National Park Service (since 1938)
How Long Is Natchez Trace And How Much Time Is Needed To Drive It
In total, this road is 444 miles long, connects three states, and crosses three rivers. When it used a footpath, it would take those traveling along it 35 days to reach the end or 25 on horseback. Now travelers can make the leisurely drive with its 50 mph speed limit in about eight and a half hours of straight driving. However, it is recommended that travelers take their time and break their journey into several days to better enjoy the experience.
The Most Scenic Stops Along Natchez Trace
Travelers venture to Natchez Trace for a variety of reasons. Some want to experience American history, country music, and southern cuisine. Others may be looking for good hiking, biking, horseback riding, or camping destination. All of these things can be discovered along Natchez Trace.
Double Arch Bridge
As the northern entrance to Natchez Trace, the Double Arch Bridge is a sight. This 582-foot-long concrete bridge is composed of 122 hollow precast cement box segments. The bridge was designed by Figg Engineering Group and built by PCL Civil Constructors Inc.; it reached completion in 1994.
- Length – 582 feet
- Designer – Figg Engineering Group
- Construction – PCL Civil Constructors Inc
Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum
Along Natchez Trace, travelers will eventually pass through Tupelo, Mississippi. This small town was the birthplace of Elvis Presley and is currently the home to the Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum. Fans of Elvis can check out the small home where he was raised with his family and much of his extended family. This is a great spot for lovers of music history.
Travelers visiting Green Leaves can partake in a guided tour of the old home. Many priceless keepsakes fill this beautiful structure, along with its stunning gardens. Travelers will also be invited to try on period costumes, an excellent way to slip into the feel of the old house.
With a variety of campsites along the length of Natchez Trace, travelers will have many to choose from as well as a variety of locations to explore. Here are three sites recommended to travelers. They could each be used for a night during this adventure.
With 444 miles of land covered by Natchez Trace, there is bound to be some good hiking. Here is a look at five of the most highly rated trails in Natchez Trace.
- Cub Creek Lake Trail – 8.9km (miles), Loop. Trail Map
- Pin Oak Trail – 3.5 km (miles), Out-and-Back. Trail Map
- Cub Lake Trail – 2.9 km (miles), Out-and-Back. Trail Map
- Natchez Trace Trail – 10.9 km (miles), Loop. Trail Map
- Red Leaves Trail North – 16.4 km (miles), Loop. Trail Map
Restrooms, Food, And Lodging Found Along Natchez Trace
This two-lane Parkway has no billboards, trucks, hotels, or gas stations, It is truly a drive along a rural country road. However, travelers need rest, bathrooms, food, and accommodation if they aren’t camping. Here is a look at three cities that travelers can use as hubs for resupplying on their journey along Natchez Trace.
Less than four hours out of Nashville, Tupelo is as far as travelers will get on their first day along Natchez Trace. This city is used to having tourists as it is home to the Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum. Travelers will find the city has plenty to accommodate them.
About 10 miles off Natchez Trace, Jackson serves as a great destination in its own right for travelers to spend some time with the Mississippi History Museum and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. Travelers will have a great time refueling in Jackson, whether it is a short or extended visit.
Natchez represents the final stop for this road trip. If travelers arrange their trip right, they can arrive during the Fall Pilgrimage of Homes, where many local historic homes, some privately owned, are open to being toured by those visiting them. This is an excellent way to end this road trip adventure.