After setting out from home on January 12, 2023, our first destination was to be the Natchez Trace Parkway that travels through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. We chose to travel the trace from north to south, and camp in the campgrounds that are run by the National Park Service. One of the great things about the Natchez Trace is that the three campgrounds located along it are free and first come, first served. I would imagine competition for these sites might be heavy in prime season, but in January we didn’t have any trouble finding spots to accommodate us. We spent one night in each of these campgrounds. They were all perfectly adequate, but our favorite was the Meriwether Lewis Campground. It had a more wooded and private setting and the sites there seemed a little more level.
As for the Parkway itself, there are so many places to stop and things to see along the way. We allowed for three and a half days, and it wasn’t nearly enough. If I had it to plan over, I probably would have doubled the time we spent there. There were times we had to pass by things we would have liked to see because the day was coming to a close. We did get to see many great sights, though, and some of our favorites were the Meriwether Lewis area, Cypress Swamp, and Emerald Mound.
The Meriwether Lewis area is where its namesake famous explorer’s life was cut short in 1809. The story is somewhat controversial, but it is believed that on his way to Philadelphia to edit his journals from the Corps of Discovery, he stopped at Grinder’s Stand (an inn) at this location and took his own life. His burial site is here, along with a small building that outlines his life and what is believed to have happened in this location so many years ago. We have always been fascinated by the story of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery, so to get more of a glimpse into Meriwether Lewis’ life was very interesting to us.
Cypress Swamp is a really neat pull out area right off the Parkway with, you guessed it…a Cypress Swamp. There is nothing spectacular to report about this area, but neither of us had ever been in a swamp area, nor had we seen Tupelo and Cypress trees, so we found it unique as well as peaceful. The Cypress trees’ knees are pretty cool. If you don’t know what they are you should look it up!
Finally, Emerald Mound is the second largest Native American mound in the US. It was built between 1250 and 1600 A.D and covers eight acres. It is truly a sight to behold. From the parking area, it just looks like a large embankment, but you definitely need to climb up to the top of the plateau where you can then see the smaller mounds and take in the sheer size of this wonder. When standing up there it isn’t difficult to imagine this as the ceremonial hub that it was all those many years ago.
If the Natchez Trace interests you and you would like to learn more about its history and some of the other sights we saw along the way, I hope you will check out our YouTube video from our time there.
Until next time!