The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery and 10,000 years of North American history. A unit of the National Park Service (NPS), Natchez Trace Parkway commemorates a route that played an important role in American history. Used by American Indians, settlers, and future presidents, the Natchez Trace was most heavily used by the “Kaintucks” during the late 1700s/early 1800s. These boatman from the Ohio River Valley traveled down the Mississippi with flatboats filled with produce, livestock, furniture, whiskey and other goods to sell in New Orleans, Louisiana and Natchez, Mississippi. Rather than attempt a difficult trip home traveling upriver against the current, the boatman would often band together and walk hundreds of miles back to their farms. What became known as the Natchez Trace was the route most traveled with over 10,000 boatman reported on the Old Trace in 1810. The rise of the steamboats in the 1820s resulted in a dramatic drop in the numbers of travelers along the Natchez Trace, and large sections of the original Trace eventually became overgrown with neglect.
Today the Natchez Trace Parkway provides an almost continuous greenway from the southern Appalachian foothills of Tennessee to the loess soil bluffs of the lower Mississippi River . Over its length it crosses four ecosystem provinces, eight major watersheds, and provides habitat for over 2200 species of plants, 47 mammal species, 134 species of birds, and 70 species of reptiles and amphibians.
Bridge on the Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway is one of 393 National Park sites and is also designated as a National Scenic Byway and All American road. One hundred two miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway travel through the rolling hills of central Tennessee.
Enjoyable at any time of year, this section of the Parkway is particularly beautiful during mid-October when the leaves are changing color. Some of the Parkway’s most unique sites can be found in the northern 100 miles. The northern terminus of the Parkway starts at Milepost (MP) 444. Heading south will allow visitors to enjoy a short, steep walk to the base of Jackson Falls (MP 404) or an easier, shorter walk to the top of another waterfall at Fall Hollow (MP 391). Visitors can learn about the story of Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, at MP 386. Governor Lewis died while traveling along the Natchez Trace on October 11, 1809. A monument to his memory was erected in 1848 and still stands at the site. In addition to the monument, visitors will also find walking trails and a campground.
Visitors have two opportunities to drive sections of the original Old Trace in Tennessee. The Tobacco Farm/Old Trace Drive can be found at MP 401 and another drivable section of Old Trace is further south at MP 375. Both are about 2 miles in length and feature beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can enjoy walking, bicycling or driving these sections, but they are not recommended for travel trailers or low clearance vehicles.
Primary Contact: Terry Wildy
2680 Natchez Trace Parkway
Tupelo, MS 38804
Local Phone: 662-680-4017