The 150 mile drive from east-central Tennessee to south-central Tennessee was easy aside from some major construction we encountered between Columbia and Natchez Trace Parkway. Even with that we arrived at the campground without any problem.
Arriving at Natchez Trace Thousand Trails is, in itself, an interesting experience. One exits the parkway and immediately comes to an 11 foot overpass. Our camper comes in at 12′ 8″ so that’s a problem. However, there’s a solution that is described on the campground’s website. A sort of bypass has been created that gives plenty of clearance. One eases off the pavement onto the gravel beside the road, drives through and then back up onto the road. There’s no telling how many hundreds of people have done this with everything from budget campers to high end motorhomes. However, if you look at the underside of the overpass you’ll see ample evidence that a few folks should have paid more attention!
Once you arrive at the campground and check in you are still a mile and a half or more down a rather worn-but-paved road to the primary Thousand Trails campground. It seems kind of strange to drive so far back and away from the pool, mini-golf (needing lots of TLC), tennis courts (needing even more TLC), camp store, and other facilities. However, a quarter of a mile from the actual campground there’s a nice facility called the “Town Hall” which is where a lot of activities happen.
A portion of this facility falls under the KOA umbrella. KOA customers can’t use TT campsites and TT members can’t use KOA. However, I doubt that it’s a problem for TT members because none of the KOA sites offer sewer hookups or are close to the lake.
Also, there are lots of cabins – more than we’ve seen in any TT yet. Some of them are along the lake, others, so far as I can tell, are just along the road and looking out into a tree filled ravine.
Honestly, no TT traveler need come to Natchez Trace expecting a lakeside campsite. Those spots are all taken by annual users who have old contracts that pre-date the merger of NACO and Thousand Trails. These folks have a good deal financially and aren’t likely to give up their contracts any time soon. If there’s an upside in this for TT travelers it’s the fact that none of the prime lakeside sites which are all occupied have sewer hookups. The rule of thumb here is “sewer site=no lake view.” Of course, there are seasonals and annuals occupying many of the full hook up sites too but if one arrives during the week and not in the middle of a busy weekend they have at least a fair chance of snagging a full hookup/30 amp site. We were quite satisfied with our spot but which was the only one available along a road filled with long term residents.
Not to dwell on the long time residents of the campground let me mention that many of them have made significant improvements to their sites, even going to far as to put up metal RV-sized carports, building decks, and planting flowers. Also, I’ll mention that these folks are, generally speaking, friendly and welcoming to visitors to “their” campground. They also volunteer for weekend activities like hayrides for the kids.
I can’t imagine this place ever being clear full. There are lots of nice campsites for people who are satisfied with a water/electric site. Some of those sites aren’t suitable for a bigger rig but many of them are.
This place clearly needs upgrading: primarily road work, more full hook up sites, 50 amp electric (there’s none), and fresh gravel on the sites. One surprising plus is good WiFi. I think it’s the best WiFi we’ve ever had in a Thousand Trails facility. Over the weekend it got sluggish due to, I imagine, heavy use but the rest of the time it’s been pretty good. My Verizon phone signal has been rather poor, but using my Wilson Sleek signal booster it is usable. We’ve seen lots of folks sitting in the Town Hall parking lot at the top of the hill using their phones.
To us, the draw here is the campground’s being so close to Natchez Trace Parkway. I don’t see it as a destination park aside from it being a good spot to let the kids have freedom to roam and enjoy the playground or simply as a place to enjoy some downtime. I know efforts are being made to catch up on various maintenance concerns and increase the appeal of this park. I’ll come back when passing through the area again and I hope that when I do I’ll see evidence of that having taken place.