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Old 04-25-2009, 07:58 AM   #1
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Natchez Trace Parkway in Spring

We just drove the entire length of the Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN in our 40 foot class A pulling a Jeep Grand Cherokee toad. It was a very relaxing drive through the woods. The speed limit is 50 mph and road condition excellent. It is similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway (which we love in our car but are afraid to drive in our rig) but there are NO trucks, tunnels, switchbacks, ledges, or low bridges. There are frequent bike riders sharing the lane, but the lack of traffic made that not a problem. Sometimes we went for miles without passing another car. There are no fuel stops on the Parkway, but plenty of access roads to nearby towns. We wish that we had more than 3 days to spare and plan to come back.
We traveled the 3rd week in April and missed the Spring flowers in Natchez by a couple of weeks. We started seeing Dogwoods blooming north of Tupelo, MS and all the way to Nashville along with lots of roadside wildflowers, trillium and May apples on the walks. Lots of turkeys but no deer to worry about. Every few miles there is a turnoff with a short nature walk or historical site. They are easily accessed by large rigs, although parking space is limited. Not a problem for us - usually we had the whole site to ourselves for the 15-20 minutes we stayed at each site.
Camping: There are several free no-reservation campgrounds on the Parkway. We cruised one of them and it had some large pull-thru sites we could have used for dry camping. Riverview RV Park in Vidalia, LA is just across the bridge from Natchez (5 minutes from the historical district) and offers 50 amp pull thru sites with a view of the barges and paddle wheelers going up and down the river. Movietown RV Park near Canton, MS has 50 amp pull thru sites. We got on I-55 just north of Jackson, MS where it crosses the Parkway and went about 15 miles north to exit 119 for the campground. There is a Loves here with good diesel fuel prices and easy access back to the Parkway the next morning. Tishomingo State Park at milemarker 304 (ReserveAmerica) has some large back-ins with 50 amp service ringing a beautiful wooded lake. Dogwood in full bloom at our site. Hiking trails with swinging bridge, rock outcroppings, fern grottos, waterfalls, rock overhangs, river and streams, pool under construction, etc. We could have spent a week here.
Highlights: Natchez historical home tours and history. Don't miss eating lunch at Soul Heaven for great southern cooking and Pig Out Inn for BBQ. Riverboat has gambling casino if that appeals. Mount Locust mm15.5 has a restored stand and nice walk. Several sites let your walk or drive on the old Trace path. Cypress Swamp at mm 122 is beautiful and 2 little gators came up out of the water at our feet while we sat on the bench. At French Camp mm 180.7 there is a turnout with parking just north of the crossroads (don't get off the Parkway like we did). You walk over a little bridge to some old cabins where you are served lunch on the porch by pink-cheeked teens. Home baked bread, thick sandwiches, homemade soups and bread pudding. The adjacent Baptist Church carrillon seranades you with music at noon. Rock Spring at mm 330.2 has beaver dams, a springfed stream and lots of flowers. Meriwether Lewis gravesite is at mm 385.9. Lots of other short stops and hikes.
Low point: Elvis Presley Birthplace at Tupelo. They do NOT really have parking for big rigs! Go to the Parkway Visitor Center at mm 266 instead.
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Old 04-25-2009, 10:43 AM   #2
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Thanks for a wonderful narrative! We've been to Natchez and it is a beautiful, friendly place. Could not believe how welcoming the locals were. Your trip will go in our "to do" file.
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Old 04-25-2009, 09:05 PM   #3
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Great write up! We are looking forward to that trip also.
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Old 04-25-2009, 09:16 PM   #4
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great take on the great trace, we did it 2 years ago with our fiver.
we must have stopped at every spot and it took us 3 days

glad you had a great trip
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Old 04-26-2009, 11:36 AM   #5
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Thumbs up

Wow! This was a fabulous write-up! We've been wanting to do the Trace, and now we have even more good info to guide us on our way. Thank you so much!!
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Old 05-06-2009, 05:04 PM   #6
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To Thousand Trails members on Natchez Trace:
There is a TT campground about halfway. Pay CLOSE attention to the instructions for getting there - it's low overhead under the parkway! You'll see lots of dings on the bridge girders where RV'rs sacrificed pieces.

Other than that, enjoy!
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