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Mississippi Scenic Drive: Natchez Trace Parkway

At first, the Natchez Trace Parkway was probably a series of hunters' paths that slowly came together to form a trail that led from the Mississippi River over the low hills into the Tennessee Valley. By 1785, Ohio River Valley farmers searching for markets had begun floating their crops and products down the rivers to Natchez or New Orleans. Since the late 1930s, the National Park Service has been constructing a modern parkway that closely follows the course of

the original trail.

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Come take a drive down this scenic parkway, featuring many historic sites in the devlopment of the American South.

Archaeological Qualities of Natchez Trace Parkway

Archaeological sites in this area date from the Paleo-Indian period (12,000-8,000 B.C.) through historic Natchez, Choctaw, and Chickasaw settlements (A.D. 1540-1837). Campsites, village sites, stone quarry sites, rock shelters, shell heaps, and burial sites are among the archaeological treasures here.

Cultural Qualities of Natchez Trace Parkway

The people who live along this parkway embody its rich culture. Southern traditions and hospitality are apparent as you meander through the heart of Dixie. From Natchez to Memphis, you'll enjoy the people you meet along the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Historical Qualities of Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace Parkway was established to commemorate the historical significance of the Old Natchez Trace as a primitive trail that stretched some 500 miles through the wilderness from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee.

Although generally thought of as one trail, the Old Natchez Trace was actually a number of closely parallel routes. It probably evolved from the repeated use of meandering game trails by the earliest human inhabitants. Over time, these paths were gradually linked and used for transportation, communication, and trade.

Natural Qualities of Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace Parkway encompasses a diversity of natural resources. The motor road cuts through six major forest types and four major watersheds. Within the park, approximately 900 species of plants help to support 57 species of mammals, 216 species of birds, 57 species of reptiles, 36 species of amphibians, and a variety of other animals.

Recreational Qualities of Natchez Trace Parkway

Take in one of the many museums located throughout the byway or take a walk among the dogwoods. The byway has many historic battlefields, allowing you the chance to reminisce about the past. Pack a picnic and see the many Southern mansions along the route or hunt for souvenirs in one of the many quaint shops along the way.

Find more useful information related to Mississippi's Natchez Trace Parkway:

  • Natchez, Jackson, Tupelo: Find out what there is to do in these cities along Natchez Trace Parkway.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Mississippi? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.

The Natchez Trace Parkway offers scenic vistas at every turn and a variety of habitats and wildlife, from blossoming flowers and trees to historical Native American earthen mounds.

Start in Natchez, Mississippi, cross the state to Alabama, and end in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Natchez: The historic Mississippi River port of Natchez boasts as many as 14 palatial homes open to the public. One of the finest is Melrose, a national park site.

Emerald Mound: Dating to A.D. 1250, 35-foot-high Emerald Mound is the second-largest American Indian temple. It covers eight acres.

Mount Locust: Take a quick tour of Mount Locust. It is a rustic inn, or "stand," one of the first that provided food and shelter along this trail.

Sunken Trace: Here are three sections of the original road that show how the route was relocated to avoid mudholes.

Rocky Springs Site: A church and cemetery mark the site of the once prosperous town of Rocky Springs. In the 1790s, the rural community grew to more than 2,600 residents. But by 1920, the Civil War, yellow fever, the boll weevil, and erosion had devastated the town.

Vicksburg National Military Park: Vicksburg's major attraction is the national military park, where on July 4, 1863, Union General Ulysses S. Grant's army dealt a mortal blow to the local planter population.

Jackson: Mississippi's state capital is an attractive river city with fine museums and parks. Of particular note is the Old Capitol.

Jeff Busby Site: The campground at Jeff Busby Site is named for Thomas Jefferson Busby, who introduced a bill in Congress that led to the creation of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Tupelo National Battlefield: Fought on July 13-15, 1864, the battle resulted in a Union victory.

Freedom Hills Overlook: A steep quarter-mile trail climbs to the highest point on the parkway--an altitude of 800 feet.

Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard: An Alabama curiosity, more than 100 coon dogs have been buried here since 1937.

Buzzard Roost Spring: Levi Colbert, a Chickasaw Indian chief, operated an inn, or "stand," nearby. His story is told in exhibits.

Colbert Ferry Park: In the trace's heyday, George Colbert operated an inn and a river ferry here. There are facilities for swimming, fishing, and boating.

Rock Spring: A short trail follows Colbert Creek. It is one of numerous easy trails along the trace that offer motorists a chance to climb from behind the wheel.

McGlamery Stand: The nearby village still bears the name of this old stand.

Sweetwater Branch Nature Trail: A clear, fast-flowing stream parallels the route of this 20-minute walk.

Napier Mine: This open pit was worked during the 19th century.

Metal Ford: Travelers crossed the Buffalo River here; an ironworks and McLish's Stand were nearby.

Meriwether Lewis Monument: A campground, picnic area, ranger station, and Meriwether Lewis's grave are here.

Old Trace: Here the Trace marked the boundaries of the Chickasaw lands ceded to the United States in 1805 and 1816.

Tobacco Farm: Exhibits at the farm and barn explain tobacco growing.

Sheboss Place: This is the site of one of the stands that once served travelers on the trace.

Jackson Falls: Named for Andrew Jackson, the falls are on the intermittent Jackson Branch that empties into Duck River.

Tennessee Valley Divide: When Tennessee was admitted to the Union in 1796, this watershed was the boundary between the United States and the Chickasaw nation.

Garrison Creek: Named for a nearby 1801-1802 U.S. Army post, this area is a trailhead for horseback riders and hikers.

The path once taken by hunters and explorers now takes drivers down the Natchez Trace Parkway, exposing visitors to the rich cultural heritage of three states, bringing to life the history of a region.

Find more useful information related to Mississippi's Natchez Trace Parkway:

  • Natchez, Jackson, Tupelo: Find out what there is to do in these cities along Natchez Trace Parkway.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Mississippi? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.

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