This historic, 444-mile scenic parkway links Natchez with Nashville and crosses some of the most beautiful terrain in the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The Parkway has been declared a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road and has been chosen as one of America’s 10 best biking roads.
Open year-round for motorists, hikers and bikers, it provides visitors the opportunity for an unhurried trip through time. Maintained and administered by the National Park Service , the Parkway is headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi.
It began as a trail traveled by Indians and wild animals almost 8,000 years ago and in our recent history was used by Spanish explorers, British troops and later by Southern frontier settlers. During the eras of French, British and American settlement, the Parkway provided an important route between the interior highlands and the Lower Mississippi River Valley. With the arrival of the steamboat, the Parkway declined in importance as a major trade route and became a route for use by locals. The Natchez Trace Parkway was created by Congress in 1938 and today is one of the most used Federal roads in the National Park System. The route attracts visitors from across the United States, Canada and Europe. Its non-commercial environment coupled with a wide variety of historic sites and scenic venues make it one of America’s treasures.
About the Natchez Trace
Stretching from the Mississippi River in Natchez through the Shoals area in Alabama and across the Tennessee Valley to Nashville, the Old Trace was first trod by buffalo, then American Indians. In the early 1800’s, it was the main return route for Ohio Valley traders who, rather than fight the Mississippi currents, sold their flatboats for the value of their timber in Natchez and walked home via the Old Trace. By the mid-1820’s, steamboats made the dangerous trek unnecessary, and the Old Trace disappeared into the trees.
Today, the 444-mile National Scenic Byway and All-American Road has emerged as one of America’s most important examples of our nation’s natural and cultural heritage. Administered by the National Park Service, the road’s non-commercial environment coupled with a wide variety of historic sites, wayside exhibits and beautiful venues make it a memorable destination for an unhurried trip that both reveals and explains a unique time in our country’s history.
Visitors today will discover richly scenic areas, numerous hiking trails, picnic sites, campgrounds and water recreation areas. Hiking on the Parkway presents both challenges and rewards. Over 60 miles of National Scenic Trail and 28 different hiking and self-guiding trails are open year-round. RVing on the parkway offers a great ride, and motorcycling and biking are popular with hundreds of miles of scenic, winding road between Natchez and Nashville.