The Parkway follows the route of the old Natchez Trace, a path used for centuries by the original inhabitants of the land. Later it was used by early European explorers. Parts of the Trace are still in existence and many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Trace mostly follows a geologic ridgeline, and before even the Native Americans used it, animals were taking advantage of the dry, high ground to move from Tennessee to the grazing lands south of the Mississippi.
Old Natchez Trace Remnants
by Chris M Norris Flickr Creative Commons
Nashville is a great spot to pick up a campervan rental, and also to listen to some country music- it is the country capital of the United States, and where Taylor Swift went to get a record deal. If you like country and western, stick around for a while and see what's on! To get to the Natchez Trace Parkway, head out of town on West End Ave/Highway 100 until the exit onto the Parkway appears. History buffs could also take a detour through Franklin, a southern suburb which was the site of a civil war battle in 1864.
Nashville at Night
by Kenton Forshee Flickr Creative Commons
Heading south towards the state border, the road passes through both wooded areas and the open spaces of Tenessee's horse and farm country. One of the only structures remaining from the original Trace lies along this stretch of the road- Gordon House, the house of John Gordon who was a ferry operator on the Duck River, helping people across to continue with their journey.
There is a short trek across Alabama before crossing into Mississippi. A quick detour off the Parkway here will take you to Florence, a port on the Tennessee River which is dammed near the city to form Pickwick Lake and Wilson Lake. There is a wide river crossing where the Parkway traverses, and on the southern bank you will find the Colbert Ferry Park, where George Colbert once offered a ferry service and inn to travellers.
The Parkway crosses the Tennessee River
by Jamie Flickr Creative Commons
The road crosses into Mississippi not long before coming to Bay Springs Lake. This is a reservoir surrounded by various Recreation Areas, a great place to stop and enjoy. There is also a campground there, Piney Grove, which is an option for an overnight stop should you want one!
The Pharr mounds are another interesting historic point along this road. These 8 burial mounds date back to 1-200AD. These range in size and four of them were excavated by the National Park Service to reveal internal features including clay platforms and fire pits.
by Jamie Flickr Creative Commons
The Trace passes through the fields of Mississippi where soybeans and cottons grow (sounding like a country song), and passes through Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis. This is another great option for an overnight stay, especially for those who love the King.
Near the end of the route is Jackson, state capital of Mississippi. There is a great live music scene here, focused on soul music like gospel, soul and RnB. After crossing the cultivated floodplain, passing Natchez State Park and traversing a forested ridge, the Parkway terminates at Natchez.
Mississippi State Capitol
by Ken Lund Flickr Creative Commons
The most convenient place to hire an RV for this trip is Nashville! Have a look here for great deals on USA RV rental.
Author: Phil Wright+
Newport is on Lake Memphremagog, not far from Canada's Montreal. There is a boardwalk on the waterfront and plenty of shops and cafes with beautiful scenery surrounding the city. Head out of town on VT105 to get to the beginning of VT 100 and head south!
by John Jewell Flickr Creative Commons
Wide open spaces abound between Newport and the small town of Lowell, after which the mountains come into view. More small towns are strung out along the road, as well as several small lakes and rivers. Just outside of Morrisville are the pretty Cadys Falls waterfall and swimming hole, and not long after that you will find Stowe, a particularly quaint village and four-season resort town. The white church and spire are the centerpiece of Stowe.
Stowe Town Hall
by Peter Broster Flickr Creative Commons
Continuing south, cross the Winooski River at Waterbury and after passing through Waitsfield the road runs along next to the Green Mountains. With a backdrop of peaks, the road runs through pasture and cornfields in a river valley. Pretty towns with british- sounding names are dotted along the route- Hancock, Rochester, Stockbridge, Pittsfield and Killington to name a few.
by dvs Flickr Creative Commons
The Green Mountain forests are a great place to stop for the night if you want to break up your trip. They are home to a number of campsites such as Chittendon Brook near Rochester, where you can get a bit closer to nature and enjoy the trails in the mountains. For something more civilised, try one of the townships.
Further down the New England feel continues as the road passes through West Bridgewater and Plymouth Notch and also skirts the Coolidge State Forest (named for Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the USA), which has plenty of hiking trails, campsites and mountain views. Further south are a number of tranquil lakes- Amherst Lake, Echo Lake and Lake Rescue, of which the latter is the largest and used extensively for watersports and recreation.
Birthplace of Calvin Coolidge, in Plymouth Notch
by Shannon Flickr Creative Commons
The rest of the drive is through green hills between Ludlow and Weston. Weston is a classic Vermont village with a great historical society and playhouse, as well as a bandstand on the green and the mandatory church steeple!
Winter in Weston
by redjar Flickr Creative Commons
Londonderry and South Londonderry straddle the West River further south, and then the road enters dense greenery once again in the southern part of the Green Mountan National Forest, and passes the imposing Haystack Mountain.
View from Haystack Mountain
by Chris Oakley Flickr Creative Commons
The route ends in Wilmington, a town not far above the border with Massachussets.
Great big-city pick up points at either end of this route are Boston and Montreal, both excellent starting points for road tripping in Vermont and the surrounding states!
Have a look here for great deals on RV Rental USA, and here for RV Rental Canada.
If you are heading north on the I-95 towards Canad, get off at MI28 and head towards Brimley. This town is located where the Waiska River flows into Whitefish Bay. It is home to a museum, a casino at the Bay Mills Indian reservation and a lighthouse, as well as a pretty waterfront.
from Brimley, head west on West Lakeshore Drive through birch, maple and oak forests. The Point Iriquois Light Station is not far from the town, and is a beautiful bit of architecture which is attached to a house serving as a museum. Also along this part of the coast is the beautiful Monocle Lake, great for fishing and all kinds of recreation. There is a campground at the lake which would make a lovely place to stop overnight.
Point Iroquois Light Station
by Andrew Horne Flickr Creative Commons
The road continues along the shoreline, passing Pendills Bay and Tahquamenon Bay. Lakeshore Drive becomes Lake Superior Shoreline Road, and then ends at White Fish Road. Turn right here to continue along the lake's shore and cross the Tahquamenon river. The Tahquamenon Falls State Park in this area is Michigan's second largest State Park. The centerpeice of the park is are the beautiful Falls and rapids, of which the waters are stained reddish brown with tannins. The best access to the Park is on MI123 from the small town of Paradise. This tourist town is the gateway to both the State Park and Whitefish Point.
by Dawn Endico Flickr Creative Commons
by Jean-Pierre Cauchon Flickr Creative Commons
Whitefish Point protrudes into the lake above Paradise, and there you will find another lighthouse for vessels navigating Lake Superior, and also a bird observatory amongst woods and lakes.
Chicago is a great pick up location for a road trip in this area, central to the lakes and to many different states. See here for great deals on RV Rental USA.
Author: Phil Wright+
In the world of motorhomes, VW is most famous for its Kombi vans, but they are no one-hit wonder. The video above reviews their new Doubleback van, a great addition to the world of small campervans which combines storage, living space and simple features into one amazing ride.
by indy_slug Flickr Creative Commons
The Doubleback has a pod at the back which slides out to double the size of the back of the van and therefore the living space! The extendable pod is sturdy and can hold up to 600 kilograms when the support is down. It includes a bed, and there is another that drops down in the main part of the cabin, where you will also find seating, a table and baic kitchen facilities. The front seats swivel to provide extra seating.
The only obvious drawback to the van is that it can only seat two belted in, or 3 if you request the double passenger seat, however it can sleep four. An extra seat with belt would not go astray! However, the Doubleback would be perfect for a couple who like some room to stretch out- just like their campervan.
To complete the loop in one day would take 5 hours, but many choose to spread it over 2 and take the time to enjoy the sights. Heading south on US550 for the first leg of the route, you will pass through Quray, a historic city established during the rush for gold and silver found in the mountains. This stretch of road, continuing right down to Durango, is a stunner. Passing waterfalls in the Uncompahgre Gorge and an array of mountains, it is a long but enjoyable drive, called the Million Dollar Highway.
by Ken Lund Flickr Creative Commons
The Red mountains are particularly noteworthy, with slopes streaked with red and orange gravel. After passing the small town of Silverton, the route passes through valleys in San Jaun National Forest, an expanse of wilderness covering nearly 2 million acres. The road eventually follows the Animas River valley to the city of Durango.
Durango is a great place to stop for the night if you are breaking up the trip. Famous for the spectacular narrow guage railway connecting it with Silverton, it was built as a railroad town. The Historic area of downtown Durango is a great place to spend some time, and you can take part in outdoor pursuits such as ziplining, rock climbing and rafting in and around the city.
by Bob Uhl Flickr Creative Commons
From Durango, the Skyway continues on US160 towards Cortez, but turns onto CO145 north to Dolores just before reaching the city. Along US160 you will pass Mesa Verde National Park, where the ruins of ancient Puebloan villages can be found. This park is a highlight of the route, with spectacular views from the Mesa. Cortez is another option for a nighttime stopover!
Ruins at the Mesa Verde National Park
by Doug Kerr Flickr Creative Commons
After Cortez, the route passes Dolores and follows the Dolores River back into the San Juan mountains. There are great vistas from the San Juan crest at over 3km above sea level. Trout Lake is a popular stop along this leg of the journey, and can be found close to CO154 before the turn-off to Telluride. The lake is not only beautiful with a backdrop of Colorado mountains, it is a great fishing spot.
by Frank Kovalchek Flickr Creative Commons
After the lake is the turn-off to Telluride. This lovely mountain town sits in a canyon with Bridal Veil Falls at the head of it, and it is connected by gondola to Mountain Village at the base of the winter ski area. Telluride's victorian Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is quite spectacular to see, especially in such an amazing setting.
by Christopher Bown Flickr Creative Commons
Bridal Veil Falls
by Paul Schultz Flickr Creative Commons
Back on the main road, the route follows the San Miguel River through a sandstone-cliff canyon to Placerville, and then back to Ridgway after a right turn onto CO62.
The major pick-up location for the San Juan Skyway and in fact all of Colorado is Denver, the state capital. Start booking your San Juan Skyway motorhome rental at Motorhome Road Trip.
Author: Phil Wright+
by InAweofGod'sCreation Flickr Creative Commons
The Parkway begins in Rockfish Gap, Virginia and runs to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. To drive the entire thing, It would likely take longer than 12 hours, so the best way tot ackle this beautiful road trip is to stop in one or two towns along the way for the night. You will pass through Roanoke near the beginning of the route, and Asheville near the end. Both of these are great places to stay if you like a bigger city feel, and if you are looking for a small-town spot to stay the night, try Blowing Rock, Boone or Black Mountain.
Blue Ridge Parkway
by jay8085 Flickr Creative Commons
The road passes through a lot of foliage, beginning right as you leave Rockfish Gap. Passing Rocky Mountain and the Shenandoah Valley, the Parkway crosses the James River and then climbs up to Virginia's highest point, Apple Orchard Mountain. All this before Roanoke! After you have traversed the city, The Rocky Knob Recreational Area is a great spot for hiking trails, and there is a campground where you can spend the night should you so wish.
After crossing the border, you will drive through Stone Mountain State Park and Doughton Recreation Area as you continue along the ridge to Boone. Home of Appalachian State University, Boone is a playground for mountain activities in all 4 seasons. Further south, Asheville is a city rich in culture, great architecture and things to see and do. A favourite is Biltmore Estate, a stunning mansion which was once the home of the Vanderbilt family. After Asheville, the road maintains the scenic standard as it wonds along the Black Mountains and Great Craggy Mountains, passes the Glassmine Falls and reaches its highest point at Richland Balsam.
by Smart destinations Flickr Creative Commons
The end of the road comes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a huge park which straddles North Carolina and Tennessee. It is the USA's most visited National Park, and consists of ridge after ridge of spectacular forested mountains. The park has oportunitites for walking, driving, fishing, horseback riding and picnicking, and sightseeing, so plan to stay a while!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
by pfly Flickr Creative Commons
Although there is no major depot on the Blue Ridge Parkway, popular pick up locations for major motorhome rental suppliers are in Atlanta and Washington DC - depending on which end of the Parkway you wish to start. Start booking your Blue Ridge Parkway Motorhome Rental at Motorhome Roadtrip.