Take a trip across the American South on a road trip from Austin to Nashville. As you travel through Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee, you’ll pass through cowboy country, the hometowns of former presidents, and some of the most legendary cities in music history. Then, there’s the scenery—you’ll start in the rolling green hills of the Texas Hill Country and end near the lush forests and rivers of Tennessee. Along the way, friendly communities and delicious Southern meals provide a warm welcome. The route is simple—take I-35 north to Dallas, switch to I-30 until Memphis, and take I-40 the rest of the way. Leave some time for side trips to explore the spectacular landscape, particularly when you get to Arkansas and into Tennessee.
Most of the national parks on the Austin to Nashville road trip require a bit of a drive. If you have the time, they offer an exciting opportunity to see a wide variety of beautiful American landscapes.
Hot Springs National Park
Soothe your road-weary muscles at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. People have been coming to this historic spot for centuries to soak in the naturally heated hot waters. Book a time at one of the vintage bathhouses, and be sure to check out the springs where they emerge, steaming, from the earth. Before you get in the water, take a hike through the forest and enjoy the spectacular scenery around town.
Gateway Arch National Park
If you’ve never seen the legendary Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, the Austin to Nashville road trip is the ideal opportunity. It requires a bit of a drive off the main route, but in return for the time, you’ll get to stand under the majestic arch and take a trip to the top. A symbol of westward expansion during the early years of the United States, this beautiful monument is one of the most unusual sights in the country.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Enter a different world at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. As you walk down underground, enormous caverns open up around you. This spot is especially welcoming in the summer; the cool caves are a lovely change from the steamy weather aboveground. Take a self-guided tour, or join one of the ranger-led options. You can even amp up the mysterious atmosphere on a tour that’s lit by a lantern.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
At the end of your trip to Nashville, keep the excitement going by driving out to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here, leafy forests cover misty peaks, creating some of the most majestic views in the region. Hike into the mountains, or drive up to the many scenic points to take in the view. With its excellent biking, camping, and history, this national park is one of the gems of the system. It’s especially stunning during the fall color season.
Looking for scenic campsites to add to your road trip itinerary from Austin to Nashville? These state parks offer a homey vibe and family-friendly campgrounds.
McKinney Falls State Park
Climb around small waterfalls as they pour over limestone rocks at McKinney Falls State Park. In legendary Hill Country, located near Austin, Texas, this park is the perfect spot to kick off your road trip. Spend a few hours hiking and biking, or get ready for the journey with a dip in Onion Creek. The park’s campground offers both water and electric hookups, so you can sleep comfortably in your RV.
Atlanta State Park
Prefer to get on the road quickly? Drive for six hours and stop at Atlanta State Park. Set on the banks of Wright Patman Lake in Texas, this spot offers beautiful views and a gorgeous pine forest. Relax after a day on the road by your campfire, or spend some time fishing on the lake. The campground sits near a small hiking trail network, and you can rent kayaks and canoes in the park.
Mississippi River State Park
Arkansas is home to a huge variety of hidden gems, and Mississippi River State Park is one of them. Located in the Saint Francis National Forest, this park is popular with hikers. It’s also a paddling and fishing dreamworld, thanks to the seven different lakes and rivers. Traveling in the summer? Head to the beach for a refreshing evening swim.
David Crockett State Park
You’ve heard of Davy Crockett, the "King of the Wild Frontier"—David Crockett State Park in Tennessee was established in honor of this legendary folk hero. It’s a family-friendly spot with a large campground, a swimming pool, and a boat launch. Explore the hills that Crockett once walked on the 10-mile hiking trail network, or sign up for one of the ranger programs in the amphitheater.
Henry Horton State Park
Fall asleep to the sound of the Duck River at Henry Horton State Park in Tennessee. Tucked into a leafy forest, this park contains the ruins of historic structures, including the Wilhoite Mill. When the weather is warm, rent a canoe, kayak, or tube and float the river—you can also try fishing, hiking, or swimming in the park pool.
Roadside stops are the perfect way to take a break on your Austin to Nashville RV road trip. Whether you’re interested in reality TV, museums, or politics—or all three—these spots are ideal when it’s time to take a break from the road.
Magnolia Market at the Silos
If you’re a fan of HGTV, the road trip from Austin to Nashville is the perfect excuse to visit Magnolia Market at the Silos. Located in Waco, Texas, this market is run by Chip and Joanna Gaines. Shop for home decor, wander around the silos, and grab a meal from the many food trucks located on the property.
Dallas Museum of Art
Indulge your love of culture at the Dallas Museum of Art. With its fantastic collection, this enormous museum contains pieces from more than 5,000 years of history. It’s just a couple of hours from Austin, making it a fun first-day pit stop.
Four States Auto Museum
If you’re interested in cars, the Four States Auto Museum in Arkansas makes a fun stop. Browse the indoor exhibits to check out historic photos and other memorabilia—then, head outside to see the collection of rare and historic cars.
William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
Created to honor the legacy of Bill Clinton, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock is a treasure trove of historical and political exhibits. Don’t miss the photo collection, which chronicles Clinton’s campaign, inauguration, and time in office. You’ll also find information about pop culture in the 1990s as well as exhibits about Vice President Al Gore and First Lady Hillary Clinton.
Tour Elvis Presley’s iconic home at Graceland, which is located in Memphis. Walkthrough the mansion, explore the stunning grounds and attend an event. You can even explore Elvis’s private airplane. Whether you’re a music lover or you simply want to check out the opulent house, this is a must-do activity.
The road trip from Austin to Nashville is a wonderful opportunity to explore some of the smaller cities that you might not otherwise have the chance to see. Whether you’re looking for a campground or an afternoon of shopping, look to these spots. Many of them offer campgrounds and dump stations, so you can keep your RV clean and ready to drive.
One of the biggest cities in Texas, Dallas is packed with cultural and entertainment options. From world-class shopping and dining to beautiful wilderness areas, this city draws you in instantly. Set up camp at one of the local campgrounds and enjoy an evening exploring the city. There are also several dump stations in the Dallas area available for use.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Best known as the home of Bill Clinton and the capital of Arkansas, Little Rock is the hub of tourism in Arkansas. Tour a museum, explore the lovely park system and relax after a day on the road at one of the many campgrounds, many of which include their own dump stations.
If you’re a music lover, plan to spend at least a day in Memphis. This friendly city played a huge role in American rock 'n' roll, blues, and soul music. After touring Sun Studio or exploring the Blues Hall of Fame, enjoy a filling Southern meal before returning to a Memphis campground for a restful evening. If you're planning to visit Graceland while you're in town, the Graceland RV Park and Campground is right down the street from Elvis' former home and features lots of fun amenities, including its own dump station.