There are so many fascinating places to explore in the Midwest, and an Atlanta to Cedar Rapids road trip can be a great way to take in many of them. Music lovers will enjoy taking in a show or two in Nashville, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just a short drive away. You can see major league sporting events in St. Louis and visit the Gateway Arch. Admire the stunning views of the Mississippi River and the Illinois River. There are also amazing caves that you will want to explore on this route.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Located 90 minutes north of Nashville, Tennessee, explore Mammoth Cave National Park on your Atlanta to Cedar Rapids road trip. The cave system at this park near Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, is the world's longest known one. Grab your jacket, and join the fun on a ranger-led cave tour. The temperature inside the cave is always 54 degrees. Many different tours are available, ranging in length from 1.5 hours to over four hours. In addition to exploring the main cave, there are wild cave tours available to lesser-known locations. This park is also a great place to go fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. Put on your hiking boots and mount your bike to ride and hike along the 9-mile Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail. Rangers often lead stargazing programs at night, so consider participating in one while staying in this park’s campground.
Gateway Arch National Park
The tallest monument in the Western Hemisphere is St. Louis’ Gateway Arch. Construction crews demolished over 40 blocks of St. Louis to make room for the construction of Gateway Arch National Park. The arch was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen who died four years before completion of the massive building project on October 28, 1965. Head to the museum to learn more about the arch’s construction and the spirit of early pioneers whom the arch is dedicated to remembering. Then, take a ride in the swaying elevator to reach the observation deck, where you can see for miles on a clear day.
Cloudland Canyon State Park
Head to Cloudland Canyon State Park on the west side of Lookout Mountain, near Rising Fawn, Georgia. Cloudland Canyon is a fantastic place to go wild caving. A park vendor offers wild caving tours throughout much of the year. This park is also an awesome place to go mountain biking on over 16 miles of trails, and you can rent bikes at the park’s office. This park is a fantastic place to hike or run through the canyon; over 64 miles of trails are available.
Booker T. Washington State Park
Tennessee has its own share of great state parks - bird watchers have spotted over 125 species of birds at Booker T. Washington State Park near Chattanooga, Tennessee. The fishing pier is a popular spot to see many of those species. This park also features a boat ramp where you can launch your vessel onto the 35,000-acre Chickamauga Lake. Anglers often head here in the spring to catch crappie and later in the summer to catch bass and catfish.
Columbus-Belmont State Park
Kentucky state parks include Columbus-Belmont State Park, which sits high on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River near Columbus, Kentucky. This location was an important battlefield during the Civil War, and you can see cannons and other artifacts from that period. Stroll through the Civil War museum, which was initially a field hospital, to learn even more. Go on a hike to enjoy stunning river views. Launch a vessel from the boat ramp to play and fish on the Mississippi River. There’s also an excellent miniature golf course to enjoy.
Pere Marquette State Park
If you are considering an Atlanta to Cedar Rapids RV road trip in January or February, be sure to stop at Pere Marquette State Park near Grafton, Illinois, to watch the bald eagles. Stop at the nature center regardless of when you visit to learn more about eagles and other animals and plants that frequent this Mississippi and Illinois riverside park. Its hiking trails are incredibly colorful in the fall because of the large number of trees at this location. Rent a horse at the riding stables to enjoy even more of this scenic park’s sights along 20 miles of dedicated trails.
Wildcat Den State Park
Be sure to spend some time at Iowa state parks as well, and try hiking along the Wildcat Den Trail at Wildcat Den State Park near Muscatine, Iowa. This trail starts with stunning views of this park’s cliffs rising to 80 feet in elevation. Hike down this trail to reach Wildcat Den at its bottom. You will also want to hike along the rock-lined path to Devil’s Punchbowl to listen to the waterfall as it fills up the bowl.
Neversink Cave Preserve
While you enter most caves horizontally, the only way to enter the cave at Neversink Cave Preserve near Scottsboro, Alabama, is vertically. Fasten your safety equipment to one of the two permanent riggings before rappelling the 167 feet to the bottom of the cave. Then, you will need to use your climbing skills to work your way back to its top.
Russell Cave National Monument
Russell Cave National Monument near Bridgeport, Alabama, was given to the American people by National Geographic. Researchers have found evidence that people lived in this cave for more than 10,000 years. You can view many of the artifacts at the visitor center. Follow the cave boardwalk through the heavily forested land to get to the cave’s entrances. There are two entrances. The one on the left is a traditional cave entrance, and only researchers are allowed in this entrance. You can enter the large cave in the side of the mountain by using the right entrance. You may see some of the 115 bird species that live in this park during your walk.
The Lost Sea
Accompanied by a tour guide, go on a 0.75-mile-long hike through the cave at The Lost Sea near Sweetwater, Tennessee. At the end of the sloping walkway, get in a boat to explore America’s largest underground lake. This facility also has a short nature trail and a small shopping village.
While there are more than 6,000 caves in Missouri, Meramac Caverns near Sullivan, Missouri, is the largest one. Take the guided tour of this cave to see formations created by nature underwater thousands of years ago. You will not want to miss the impressive light show that changes throughout the year in this cave. Your children will love panning for treasures, like fossils and fool's gold at Meramec Mining Company while everyone will enjoy the sweet treats at the candy store. Fly at speeds up to 50 miles per hour on the zipline, or try climbing up the 40-foot climbing wall. Step back in time to explore the robberies of Civil War bandits at the Jesse James Wax Museum.
You will find a beautiful mix of outdoor adventure and Southern charm when you include Chattanooga on your road trip from Atlanta to Cedar Rapids. Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground, Camping World of Chattanooga, and Chester Frost Park Campground are all great campgrounds in Chattanooga, and all offer unique activities. Chattanooga RV dump stations are available at Chester Frost Park and Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground.
If you love country music, be sure to catch a show when traveling through Nashville, Tennessee. You could also stop at historical and educational sites like Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. Great campgrounds in Nashville include Clarksville RV Park, Anderson Road Campground, and Fall Hollow RV Park. RV dump stations in Nashville are available at Nashville I-24 Campground, Nashville North KOA, and Shutes Branch Recreation Area.
St. Louis, Missouri
There are many attractions in St. Louis’ downtown area that you may want to visit, including the Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium, and Forest Park. There are great campgrounds in St. Louis, including St. Louis RV Park, Pin Oak Creek RV Park, and Bab’s RV Park. Find RV dump stations in St. Louis at Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park, Cuivre River State Park, and Beaver Dam State Park.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Atlanta to Cedar Rapids, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Atlanta or Cedar Rapids.