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Tennessee Road Trip

Sometimes going to see family can be challenging, especially if you only focus on the negative aspect of it. The long travel time, inconvenience, cost, unhealthy travel food, etc., etc. In our recent case we found out about a Family reunion fairly recently, which made flying cost prohibitive. The alternative was a long 10-hour car ride from Virginia. Hmmm, thought the guy with a blog that is seeking out reasons to visit NPS sites across the country, stroking his chin…

Such a long drive would absolutely require some mid-route stops to rest, stretch our legs, and get something to eat. One additional advantage was that we planned to add a hotel stop on the way to and from Tennessee, which gave us a lot more time for visiting the parks. Looking at our possible routes, and specifically the stamps and NPS units that are along the way, seven unique opportunities were highlighted to do just that.

#Park Unit NameLocation
1Andrew Johnson National Historical ParkGreeneville, TN
2Manhattan Project National Historical ParkOak Ridge, TN
3Obed Wild and Scenic RiverWartburg, TN
4Stones River National BattlefieldMurfreesboro, TN
5Timberland Park- Natchez Trace PkwyFranklin, TN
6Big South Fork National River and Recreation AreaOneida, TN
7Cumberland Gap National Historical ParkCumberland Gap, TN
Park Visits on Tennessee Road Trip

Route Map

Tennessee Road Trip google map

We set a route plan based on our seven-park objective, which worked out surprising well.

We considered the option to include Mammoth Cave National Park but as spectacular as that park is, the distance was too far to include in conjunction with the other units. Plus, the cave system at Mammoth is awesome, so I am told, and is well worth spending some additional time exploring. That will need to wait for another time.

In planning the trip, we planned to hit three sites on the way to Nashville, two during our stay and two more on the drive back east. That spaced the trip out, leveraged the units to be used for normal meal and stretch breaks. The added benefit is that the units were fairly unique, with a good diversity of type of parks. Let’s face it. Visiting five Civil War battlefields in a row can wear on you, so mixing it up I think helps!

Overall, the trip went well. As I write up each of the trip reports, I will add the links in the table above. This will give more insight and details into each unit. I will say that it has become clear to me that taking breaks and learning to go slow and steady to be able to absorb as much as we can on these visits is certainly needed. I think we got a good dose of each area, but I think this was the most we could have included.

Roaming Monk Tip: We did run into a jam trying to find a good lunch spot on the return day, as we were in the mountains and options were limited. This is where spending 15 min at a grocery store stop at the beginning of the day paid off. We were prepared, with plenty of snacks and beverages that helped provide flexibility.

Overall, this was a great test run for our BIG two week GO WEST! trip to Yellowstone/Grand Tetons/Grand Rapids, and all points in-between. We kept an eye on what worked and what did not work (at lease for us), which I think will be a great help. Will write more on our Go West tips another time.

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