Tag Archives: Natchez Trace Parkway

Shortstop: Natchez, MS State Park

PHOTO_20151106_171439.jpg There are two campgrounds at Natchez, MS State Park (plus a primitive camping area and a cabin area). We stayed in the newer Campground B a couple of years ago and liked it very much. Our stay this time was in the older Campground A, we like it too. Campground A has the only full hookup sites in the park and there are only six of them. Not only that, but it appeared to me that three of those were taken by long term campers. I’m not sure how that works in a state park, but I remember seeing at least one other long term setup in the newer campground a couple of years ago. The full hookup sites are all back in but between two one way roads in and out of the campground. The sites are level, reasonably spaced and concrete slabs. The other sites in Campground A are water/electric only. Some look like they would be okay for bigger rigs, but there are others that would be a tighter fit. I could get my 5th wheel into the lower part of Campground A but I don’t think I would like doing it very much.

Our 2013 Review – focused on Campground B – is here.

PHOTO_20151108_124253.jpg Getting to Campground A is an experience all in itself. As I mentioned in my 2013 review, to get to this state park one turns off of Highway 61 onto State Park Road. You will wind your way past several buildings that are at the falling down stage right on a pot-hole filled road. In a few minutes you come to a sign instructing you to turn left off of State Park Road if you want to go to Campground B and the main offices. Otherwise, you continue down State Park Road to the entrance to Campground A. The rough road only gets worse as you come, but it’s only a mile or so to the campground entrance. The back in, full hookup sites are right there.

You could get into this campground from the main state park road (not to be confused with the road I just described “State Park Road” – how’s that for confusing!). However, that way into Campground A is via a narrow road just wide enough for one vehicle down and through the lower part of Campground A. Then, once you get to the row of full hookup sites you are going the wrong way with no place to turn around! Needless, to say, you don’t want to do that, so approach Campground A on State Park Road and not the road into the rest of the park (I know, confusing).

100_4841.JPG I managed to get most of my satellite TV channels but it was a challenge. Had it not been fall with the tree leaves thinning out, I doubt I would have had any success at all. My Verizon 4G was a fairly good 2 bars. Now that I’ve stayed in both campgrounds at Natchez State Park I think I’d go for Campground B for shorter (no sewer hookup) stays and Campground A for longer stays, and that only if I could get a full hookup site.

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Shortstop: LeFleur’s Bluff State Park – Jackson, MS

PHOTO_20151104_092856.jpg Our shortstop at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park in Jackson, MS is our second stay at this campground. We were here two years ago as we journeyed down Natchez Trace Parkway the first time. There’s really not much new to say. We still like it here.

Our review from 2013 is here.

One good change is that the unnecessary concrete island at the entrance has been removed, making it easier to navigate through the gate. Before, there was no one at the entrance station but now we noted that it is manned. I mentioned in my previous review that I thought satellite TV would be easier to get in the sites across from the bathhouse. I was mistaken. “North” isn’t quite where I thought it was and the satellites are still out through the trees. From what I can see, the sites nearer the campground entrance might be best for satellite, but as wooded as it is getting a signal there would be challenging at best. However, there are lots of local over-the-air channels so a TV watcher will still have plenty of entertainment available. This is a busy campground on weekends so a person would be wise to reserve a site early if possible.

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Campground Review: Tombigbee State Park at Tupelo, MS

100_4829.JPG This is our second stay at Tombigbee State Park at Tupelo, MS. We were here two years ago and as we journey down Natchez Trace again we’re staying at the same places as we did then. Obviously, we like this state park. The campground features nice paved sites, 50 amp electric, full hookups, and a nicely done and clean bathhouse that even includes a laundry. The route back into the state park is, of course, still a hilly, twisting road that is a bit challenging but do-able.

See our previous, and more complete, review of this campground here.

100_4830.JPG My Verizon data has been a weak but usable 3G and satellite TV is pretty good, although in this particular site I wasn’t able to get my third satellite which has some of the HD channels on it. My only real complaint is the same one I had two years ago: late every night the campground voltage rises to the point that my electrical management system shuts the electric off to my camper to protect it from high voltage. I spoke to the office about this two years ago and brought it to their attention again. They know about the problem and the too high voltage is related to an effort to keep the voltage from dropping too low during busy, hot summer months. Our solution was to unplug overnight and use a heavy duty extension cord to run a space heater. It’s a minor inconvenience for us, but I do wonder how much wear and tear is being done to campers that are experiencing this higher-than-optimal overnight voltage each night.

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Campground Review: Natchez Trace Thousand Trails near Hohenwald, TN

100_4824.JPG At the conclusion of my previous review of Natchez Trace Thousand Trails near Hohenwald, TN a couple of years ago I commented that on a future visit I hoped to see some of the maintenance issues of this campground addressed. Frankly, as we finish up our second stay here, I have to report that my previous review is still accurate. If nothing else, I’d say the mile and a half road back into the campground has even more potholes than it did two years ago. I mentioned that good WiFi was one of the real bright spots, but this stay it wasn’t working well with lots of dropouts even with a strong signal. I mentioned it at the office a couple of times and near the end of our stay someone may have looked at it because it finally settled down and disappeared less often.

100_4825.JPG As we arrived there were two other rigs just ahead of us. We found out they were a mom and dad from the northeastern part of the country meeting their son and his family from Texas for a two week stay together. They were very disappointed in the campground. The son wasn’t a member and had paid the “rack rate” for a two week stay in his brand new 5th wheel. After walking around the campground for a long time, looking at every available site and digesting the news that there were no 50 amp sites at all, they settled on a couple of rougher sites next to one another. The next day they pulled out, looking for a nicer campground. I don’t know if they got a refund or not.

Let me say that I think that was a bit of an over-reaction. Anyone who looks online can see that there is only 30 amp service here. Still, for someone looking for a nice campground with some amenities I can understand the feeling of disappointment. For us, the campground itself is at the low end of “acceptable” and not a place I would look forward to visiting aside from it being easy on my camping budget as a fulltime traveler. The primary other positive is that our stay coincided with the peak of the fall foliage here and the colors were glorious.

I don’t understand the layout here. At the front gate there’s a store, pool, min-golf, and lake access. However there are no campsites. The campground for members is a mile and a half away, over a very rough and hilly road. There’s plenty of room for a campground in a big, wide open area near the amenities and I have no idea of why anyone ever thought isolating the primary campground as it is would be a good idea. Aside from that I know the long term residents and the staff of this Thousand Trails are still hoping cooperate will finally turn its attention to this long neglected campground. I suggest that happen sooner and not later.

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Natchez Trace and vicinity: southwestern Mississippi

2013-10-22 15.00.30.jpg Natchez, Mississippi is known for it’s antebellum home tours.  We chose to go to Melrose which is operated by the National park service.  There is some remodeling being done to the exterior but we enjoyed our tour with a volunteer guide. The McMurran family moved into this home right after it was built in 1841 and it has been restored to that era.  We entered through the massive front door and stepped in the wide hall that runs the length of the house. The furniture and fixtures throughout are elegant and remind us that this was a family of means.  The main hall floor is made of painted oilcloth that feels like linoleum.   In the dining room is a large elegant table and there’s a large mahogany fan that has a pull rope to be used to keep the air moving around the diners at all times.  Wood venetian blinds and silk curtains cover all the windows.   There are bell pulls in each room running to a set of bells with different tones in the back of the house to summon a slave to that particular room when something was needed. There is also a room where the women could entertain, sew, and chat as well a separate room for the men to go to smoke and talk.  The bed rooms upstairs are nicely furnished with four poster beds, day beds, desks for writing for the adults, and toys in the children’s room.  Behind the big house is a two story building housing a kitchen, a cooling room for milk and other perishables.  There are two other buildings for slaves that are open for viewing as well as buildings for the animals and carriages.  Most of the flowers are gone this time of the year but gardens are still a nice place to visit.  There are many different types of trees.  The two that caught my attention are the very old and large Magnolia beside the house on one side and a sweet olive tree that has fragrant blooms on the other.  We thought this was a very interesting and enjoyable tour.

From Melrose we drove downtown to visit the William Johnson house.  He was a freed slave turned barber.  William Johnson was freed by his white slave owner of the same name.  As a boy he was trained to be a barber by his brother-in-law who was a free black man.  William became a prosperous business man and land owner. He owned and operated three barbershops and a bathhouse in Natchez as well as property outside of town.  We were surprised to learn that he, himself, was a slave owner.  The family lived in town in the upper level of the house on State street over the commercial space.  Johnson was a prolific writer who journaled daily.  His journals not provide invaluable information about the day to day life of a free, and successful black man in Natchez.  Sad to say, he was murdered in 1851 over a disputed land boundary.

image-002.jpg Mount Locust Inn and Plantation is just a short drive north of Natchez on Natchez Trace Parkway.  it is one of the oldest structures in the area.  It was purchased by William Ferguson in 1784 as a farm.  Since it was a day’s walk from Natchez this place became a stopping spot for the the “Kaintucks” who had floated their goods down the Mississippi and sold them in Natchez or New Orleans.  They then walked the many miles back up the Natchez Trace.  Mount Locust Inn provided a place to sleep and a meal of corn mush and milk. It started as a simple inn and later a four room, two story annex was added for the travelers.  We enjoyed seeing the old house and taking a quiet walk around the grounds.  We walked just a short distance along the Old Trace to see what the early travelers walked through on a beautiful sunny day.

image-009.jpg Overall, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring the areas along Natchez Trace Parkway; both the beauty of nature and the rich history of the area.  In spite of our spending nearly a month along the Trace and spending time in three different area campgrounds we know we’ve barely scratched the surface of all there is to see and do along Natchez Trace Parkway.  We hope to return in future journeys to continue enjoying the area.

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