Natchez Trace Parkway and Vicksburg

Many years ago, our friend told us we must go see the Natchez Trace Parkway. I’ve kept this advice tucked away in my brain and it seemed like a great stop on our way to winter in Florida. As we told our Texas friends about our next stops, another good friend suggested we take some time to tour Vicksburg. We did both and are already trying to figure when Mississippi can fit back into our RV plans.

We chose Askew’s Landing Camground in Edwards, MS as our home base for these explorations due to its location providing easy access to both the Trace and Vicksburg. We arrived after a couple long rainy days and were unhappy to find the gravel roads into the campground were quite muddy and our site was on an open grass field that was pretty water logged. Fortunately for us, they had good enough drainage to keep us from getting stuck in a mud pit and as soon as the rain stopped they were spreading new gravel on the drive to repair the potholes. The campground also has a nice fishing lake, is surrounded by trees and is far enough from any major roads to allow for some peace and quiet.

Askew’s Landing Campground lake
The campground lake had a few hints of fall color

…and a bunch of duck and geese!
For those that aren’t familiar with it, the Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444 mile road and surrounding land that has been designated a national park in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. It marks an old trade route from Nashville to Natchez. Due to a prohibition against commercial truck traffic and a lower speed limit, the road surface is nearly pristine. It also has no billboards or commercial anything in the park so it makes a great getaway that’s not too far from the comforts of home. We really only got to explore the lower third of the Trace in our week, but we loved it so much, we will definitely be back to explore the rest!
Our first ride took us South to the start of the Trace at milepost 0. We stopped for lunch near Rocky Springs and walked through Mount Locust, the last only surviving inn on the Trace.

What a great road!

Despite the lack of fall colors, these rides were gorgeous and peaceful!
Intersecting roads go over or under the Trace so all traffic enters from on and off ramps
This is a side road by the Rocky Creek campground where we stopped for lunch
All the way to the start at milepost 0

A bikers dream!

  

Bob said this bell reminded him of the one on his grandparents farm
Our second ride took us North through Jackson, past Barnett Resevoir to the Cypress Swamp. More beautiful, scenic easy riding!

Pretty amazing lunch view!

  
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Finally some fall color!

 

We took two trips to Vicksburg. We rode the Vicksburg National Military Park and took the Mini on a driving tour of the town. The military park commemorates the siege of Vicksburg by Ulysses Grant and union troops. This was the last stronghold of the South on the Mississippi River and gaining control of the city was deemed crucial to the war. The visitor center provides a lot of detail on this time and there is a road that winds around the battlefield with lots of signs (red for confederate and blue for Union) and TONS of state memorials to the various troops involved. 

    

The Illinois state memorial dwarfed the other states!
    
 About halfway around the loop, there’s a museum for the USS Cairo, an old Ironside that was sunk in a river near here and lost for many years before being exhumed and moved to this site. It reminded me a lot of the SS Bertrand museum at Desoto Bend. Amazing what survived the water and mud after all those years! 

    
   
Our driving tour of Vicksburg started at the visitor center right on the river. Vicksburg has a great driving tour with a map and information that winds all through the old city and back out to the military park. We stopped about halfway through at McRaven Tour Home and took a tour. They had just recently reopened and have been noted as a “time capsule of the South”. The home was built and improved in three distinct sections and it was really interesting to see how life changed from period to period. They offer an evening ghost tour, but it was a cold and rainy day, so we just stuck with the day tour and continued our driving exploration.  

Mississippi river from Vicksburg
  
The three distinct parts of the McRaven home…oldest is closest
 
We enjoyed our short stay in Mississippi and look forward to our next visit. Time to move on to Florida!

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