Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Meander historic, scenic Natchez Trace

If you're in a hurry to get to your snowbird location in the South this fall, the  is not the RV Short Stop route for you.  So, just jump onto the closest interstate and put your pedal to the metal.

However, if you want to meander (north or south) along one of the nation's most peaceful, serene and scenic drives, make your way to the  that follows a winding course 444 miles between Natchez, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee.

It is speculated that as far back as 10,000 years ago, large animals may have formed and traveled along what is known as the Old Trace. Early on, American Indian hunter-gatherer societies found the trail and followed or 'traced' the migration patterns of deer and bison herds.

The Old Trace Drive, at milepost 375.8, mid-October. (NPS)
Today, the Natchez Trace Parkway commemorates this historic travel route of animals and people. The Trace includes numerous stops that invite RVers to linger a while and explore the region's colorful history. Or, you can simply enjoy the breathtaking and peaceful scenery. "Each fall as the leaves change colors, visitors are rewarded with a spectacular showing in Tennessee, Alabama, and northern Mississippi." Click here for places to see autumn colors along The Trace.

Many opportunities for family RV Short Stops can be found at the Parkway Visitor Center at milepost 266 (Parkway Headquarters). This is the spot for ongoing events and activities.  Click here for the latest calendar events.

Potkopinu Section of the Old Trace

Potkopinu Section (NPS)
There are five sections of Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail that parallel the Natchez Trace Parkway. These hiking sections make invigorating RV Short Stops.  They range from 3-miles to more than 25 miles long.

The Potkopinu section, between milepost 17 and 20, follows the historic Old Trace that was formed in the soft loess soil by the millions of animals, American Indians, trappers and traders over centuries of use.

"The Natchez Indians may have called these paths 'potkopinu' which means 'little valley'," states a post on National Park Service's Facebook page. This is the longest stretch of the 'sunken' trace available to hike, reflect and wonder.

Natchez Trace Parkway is popular with RVers. (NPS Photo)
RV Touring
RVers love, love, love the Natchez Trace Parkway. However, be aware that the length restriction for recreation vehicles is 55 feet, including your tow vehicle. Height restriction is 14 feet.  There are a number of pulloffs that are closed to RVs and bridge clearances under 15-feet.  Click here for the list of those closures and bridges.

Also be on the lookout for cycling tourists, those healthy humans pedaling their way along the Parkway.  The entire 444 miles is a designated bicycling route, according the National Park Service.

Most of the way, the two-lane road is only 22-feet wide.  That's only 11-feet in each lane with little-to-no shoulder. So while you are enjoying the drive remember to avoid looking at the scenery when bicyclists are present.  Although the speed limit is posted at 50 mph in most stretches, there have been numerous reports by bicyclists of locals using The Trace as a commuter highway.  Be cautious and courteous.

RV Camping
There are more than a dozen campgrounds along the Natchez Trace Parkway corridor, three in the park, and many others just outside the park. The three Parkway campgrounds are free, primitive, and available on a first come, first serve basis.  Click here for campground listed from south to north.

For more information

Visitor Center, Milepost 266, Tupelo MS

Mailing Address:
2680 Natchez Trace Parkway
Tupelo, MS 38804
Phone: (800) 305-7417


-- Julianne G. Crane
To read more RV lifestyle writing go to RVWheelLife.com

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