The national parkway known as the Natchez Trace follows the routes of the Old Natchez Trace routes originally used by Native American tribes.
The two-lane parkway runs over 400 miles between Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez, Mississippi. The current incarnation was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and it has become a popular route for road trips, motorcycles, and cycling enthusiasts since then.
The route goes through a number of larger cities, especially when compared with the Blue Ridge Parkway, so it’s easy to stop off for attractions and dining along the way.
This roadway showcases the best the region has to offer, including passage through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. There are a number of national park-affiliated sites on the route and places to camp and hike along the way.
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Where to Stop on the Natchez Trace Parkway
Nashville serves as the northern starting point and is a popular destination for travelers. In addition to the honky-tonks of Broadway and the museums devoted to country music, check out the Parthenon replica and Belle Meade Plantation.
On your way out of town, stop by Loveless Cafe, conveniently located near the entrance to the parkway. The Iris Motel in Berry Hill, on the south side of town, is close to the highway and a short drive from the parkway entrance.
Stop by Franklin and Leiper’s Fork on your way south to see live music at Puckett’s Grocery, the iconic Natchez Trace bridge, and a number of Civil War landmarks. The Harpeth Hotel is the best place to stay in town.
Other Stops in Tennessee
Hohenwald is another good stopping point, where you can learn more about the area at the Meriweather Lewis Historic Cabin visitor’s center. This area follows a number of creeks and has access points for hiking. Gordon House Historic Site at milepost 407.7 is a historic home near a former river crossing.
Forest Gully Farms, north of this area, has Lord of the Rings-style hobbit homes to sleep in. Outside of Waynesboro, you’ll find the Shiloh National Battlefield, an important Civil War site, as well as the Sunken Trace, the remnants of the original trading routes that have been worn down over the years. Jackson Falls is another highlight.
Meriwether Lewis Campground at milepost 385.9 is one of three campgrounds within the Trace.
Florence is the closest city to the parkway in northern Alabama. Stop by the towns of Muscle Shoals, Florence, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia to learn about music history before wandering west towards the road. While there, stop by Tom’s Wall, a memorial to a local man’s relative who survived the Trail of Tears.
Across the Tennessee River and between the parkway and Florence is the Rattlesnake Saloon, an offbeat venue for food, drink, and live music, set in a cave. Stay at The Stricklin Hotel, which has rooms inspired by the area. Colbert Ferry is on the site of a former inn.
Tupelo serves as the official headquarters of the trace and a halfway point for travelers. Here you can stop off and visit Elvis Presley’s Birth Home. Enjoy a “slug burger” in the same booth that The King sat in at Johnnie’s Drive In. Chickasaw Village is an important reminder of the Native American origins of the trail. Hotel Tupelo is the best place to stay while in town.
Jeff Busby Campground, at milepost 193.1 between Tupelo and Jackson, is another good stopping point.
Kosciusko has its own welcome center as well as shops and small-town attractions. There’s also a photo tour company so you can get the best snaps from your trip. It’s a part of the Mississippi Blues Trail.
Jackson is the capital of the state and while it isn’t on the official Parkway, it’s a short drive from there. The city is a memorable filming location from The Help and has important landmarks in literary and civil rights history.
The Hilton Garden Inn Jackson Downtown is the perfect base for exploring. Stop by the Clinton visitor’s center on your way there. Rocky Springs Campground at milepost 54.8 is between Jackson and Natchez.
Port Gibson is ripe with old attractions including their own sunken trace and ruins of the Windsor Plantation with only the columns remaining. Check the conditions before you go as the road is prone to flooding. The Sunken Trace is also nearby at milepost 41.5.
Natchez is a 300-year-old city on the river that marks the end of the Natchez Trace. Visit during one of their pilgrimages to tour antebellum mansions. Emerald Mound is the second-largest ceremonial mound from the Mississippian period in the country. The Natchez Grand Hotel On The River is a popular hotel to spend the night, overlooking the river.