Family Vacations: Natchez Trace

Natchez Trace, which runs from Mississippi to Tennessee, began as a series of tribal trading routes worn into the earth.

Natchez Trace originated thousands of years ago. Big animals such as deer and bison were the first to tramp along what became the Old Natchez Trace. Then the Choctaw and Chickasaw connected the paths, and the trail became the region's premiere trade route. Arriving Europeans grasped its potential, and by the late 1700s the Natchez Trace bustled with boaters. They would sell their cargo and flatboats or keelboats for lumber in Natchez or New Orleans and then travel back north to Nashville and beyond. The boaters carried their money in gold and silver coins, and the Natchez Trace became legendary for its cutthroat gangs.

In 1801, the United States signed a treaty with the Choctaw allowing roads to be built along the route. Today, Natchez Trace has many meanings. It is the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows the road from Natchez, Mississippi, to just outside Nashville, Tennessee. The parkway's one visitor center is located near Tupelo, Mississippi, birthplace of Elvis Presley. Four sections of trails along the parkway make up the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail. Crimson clover, butterweed, Japanese honeysuckle, ground ivy, and many other species of wildflowers dot the scenery along the parkway. Adventurers can enjoy numerous hiking trails, picnic sites and campgrounds, too.

Natchez Trace Information

Address: 2680 Natchez Trace Pkwy., Tupelo, MS

Telephone: 800/305-7417

Hours of Operation: Dawn - Dusk

Admission: Free

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Mississippi State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Mississippi, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.