Best in Tent Camping: Kentucky

Best Tent Camping Kentucky 2nd Edition

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Book Excerpt Below
The Best In Tent Camping
Tennessee & Kentucky

ISBN: 0-89732-370-X

This book covers the 60 best campgrounds in the two states, from the bluffs of the Mississippi River to the Appalachian Mountains in the east and all points in between. As a native Tennessean, I particularly enjoyed writing this book.

Meriwether Lewis Monument CampgroundCampsite Name Meriwether Lewis Monument
Campsite City Columbia
Beauty Rating 4
Privacy Rating 4
Spaciousness Rating 3
Quiet Rating 4
Security Rating 5
Cleanliness Rating 5
Address 2680 Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo, MS 38801
Operated by: National Park Service
Information (800) 305-7417.
Open Year-round
Individual sites 32
Each site has Picnic table, fire ring
Site assignment First come, first served; no reservation
Registration No registration
Facilities Water spigot, flush toilets
Parking At campsites only
Fee No fee
Elevation 900 feet
Restrictions – Pets On six-foot leash only
Restrictions – Fires In fire rings only
Restrictions – Alcoholic beverages At campsites only
Restrictions – Vehicles None
Restrictions – Other 14-day stay limit
Summary Quote The Natchez Trace Parkway is lined with interesting history, and a free campground.
To get there From Columbia, take TN 50 west for 15 miles to the Natchez Trace Parkway. Head south on the parkway for 22 miles to Meriwether Lewis Monument, which will be on your right.

This is one campground where you will want to take your time heading to it, traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway, of course. I came from Nashville way, and stopped at the many roadside sights. Upon arriving at Meriwether Lewis Campground, set on a wooded ridge, I found an added bonus, free camping! My overall experience was so good I was almost ashamed I hadn’t experienced it before. In addition to the interesting human and natural history, as well as free camping, the nearby Buffalo River offers one of the finest canoe float trips in the state.

The campground lies on a ridgetop in young oak-hickory woods. It is broken into one loop and a side road. Steep hillsides drop off from all sides of the camping area. Younger trees, some of which are dogwoods, separate the sites. The camping areas are well maintained, well spaced and offer decent privacy. The other camping area is on a narrow side ridge, with sites strung out on the road. Each site has a good view into the woods below. This area has the only bathrooms in the campground. But who’s complaining, since the campground is free. A small auto turnaround at the end of the road offers a few more sites that are the quietest of them all.

There is a water spigot at each camping area, and a campground host provides an added sense of security. Campers can get a site almost anytime of year. A few weeks in March-April and October-November are the only times the campground is full. Snowbirders from up north are heading to and from their winter destinations. Otherwise, Meriwether Lewis is the domain of tenters during summer and fall.

The Natchez Trace came to be when boatmen, returning from delivering crops and other goods down the Cumberland, Ohio and Mississippi rivers began returning to their homes via a buffalo and Indian path running from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. The federal government then commissioned roadwork, improving the path. The Natchez Trace became one of our first western roads. Portions of this old road are actually preserved to this day, and can be walked on. You’ll have to learn the rest of the story on your own. Some my favorite sights along the parkway are the Gordon House, built in 1812. Here, Mr. Gordon operated a ferry on the Duck River. Down the road is preserved relic of an old tobacco farm, with great views from the ridgeline. Jackson Falls exhibits some of the natural beauty of the region. It is a two-tiered fall that drops over a rock rim. A trail leads down the falls, and another cascade coming from a side creek. There are many more places to visit north and south of Meriwether Lewis Monument.

Here, near the campground, is the actual monument to Meriwether Lewis, one of the leaders on the famous Corps of Discovery expedition, as in Lewis and Clark, that went up the Missouri River and overland to the Pacific in the early 1800s. After the expedition, Lewis died here under circumstances that remain one of the great mysteries in American history. He is buried at the monument.

Several miles of trails run along the ridges and hollows of the immediate area. Get a trail map at the log cabin near the monument. A longer hike is north of here on the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail. It runs for 26 miles in the vicinity of the Gordon House, north of the campground. Check out the picnic area at Little Swan Creek, an attractive stream with little bluffs running alongside its clear waters. A bigger waterway is the Buffalo River. It flows free for 110 miles past large bluffs that look over good fishing waters. Some of my most memorable paddling trips have taken place here. Fish for smallmouth bass or bream. Or just enjoy the scenery. Call (800) 339-5596 for an outfitter in nearby Hohenwald.