The Natchez Trace Parkway runs just over 400 miles between Nashville, TN and Natchez, MS. It is a gentle, winding road chock full of beautiful scenery, rolling hills, trees, wildlife and more interesting and historic stopping points along the route than you can possibly imagine.
The parkway follows an ancient trail that connected the southern portions of the Mississippi River, through Alabama, to central Tennessee. There are numerous ways to experience this amazing road: driving, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping.
How did we experience The Natchez Trace? We just drove. And stopped often.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is operated by the National Park Service. There are no fees or reservations required to enter Natchez Trace Parkway which can be accessed from any of the hundreds of small cities and towns that line the outskirts of the Parkway.
A good guidebook and a map are invaluable tools while traveling the Trace. We used a rather dated copy (1995) of a book called Traveling the Trace by Cathy and Vernon Summerlin as well as consulting the National Park Services website for maps and other information.
A few other things you’ll definitely need to be mindful of:
- The speed limit on the Natchez Trace Parkway is 50 miles per hour. Trust me, you don’t want to go any faster or you’ll miss something spectacular.
- There are no service stations, convenience stores or lodging directly on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Keep that in mind if the tank gets low or you run out of snacks. Fear not though, for there are countless communities just on the other side of the tree line that have everything you’ll need.
- Cell phone reception is spotty. Oh, you can get service, but it is probably going to be at the exorbitant roaming rate.
- Be mindful of the wildlife and their propensity to wander into the roadway. There is a lot of wildlife and apparently they are blind–and deaf!!
- The Natchez Trace Parkway gets very dark at night. The roadway is not lighted so unless you appreciate driving in pitch blackness, it may be a good idea to find an exit when the sun goes down.