A Chattanooga to Hot Springs National Park road trip is a great way to explore Tennessee and Arkansas. When you begin this journey, you will want to start by taking I-75 N up to Great Smoky Mountains National Park before you start moving west. Along the way, you will pass through cities like Nashville and Memphis, which are major cities that attract music lovers from around the world. To stop at both of these cities, take I-40 W once you hit the first national park on your itinerary. You will find several state parks that you can visit along this route, which nature enthusiasts will adore.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most iconic national parks in the country. It is a great place to take a hike and explore the area. There are 800 miles of trails, but you will want to make sure to include hiking Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park, on your itinerary. You can see nearly 100 miles from the top, and seeing a sunrise or a sunset at this height is amazing. There is also a hike to see Abram Falls that is about 5 miles in length. At the falls, there is a plunge pool where you can cool off.
In addition to hiking, you can take in some of the wildlife that lives in the park. It is estimated that over 1,500 black bears live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and there are deer, turkeys, and foxes. If you happen to be in the park at night, you can find synchronous fireflies in the meadows. These fireflies are unique because they rise from the grass at the same time and blink, which makes the entire meadow seem like it is lighting up.
Hot Springs National Park
This Chattanooga to Hot Springs National Park RV road trip ends at Hot Springs National Park, so you will have the chance to explore another great park before you head home. You will want to look at historic Bathhouse Row and to take a tour of the Fordyce Bathhouse, which is now the park's visitor center. Once you finish your tour, you can enjoy some of the hot springs in the park or take a hike around the mountain on one of the trails in the park. There is also a brewery that you can enjoy.
Cumberland Mountain State Park
Cumberland Mountain State Park is a scenic area along Byrd Lake that is made up of more than 1,700 acres. If you enjoy spending time on the water fishing or boating, this is a great opportunity to get your feet wet. Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards can be rented, but if you want to fish in the water, a Tennessee fishing license is required. You can swim in the park's lake or the Olympic-sized pool. If you prefer to stay on dry ground, then there are 14 miles of trails to hike as well.
Edgar Evins State Park
Edgar Evins State Park is located along the shores of Center Hill Lake, which makes it a great place for anglers to explore. In the lake, you can find trout, walleye, smallmouth bass, and more. If you enjoy watching birds, some rare species can be spotted in this area. There are also four trails that you can hike in Edgar Evins State Park.
Montgomery Bell State Park
Located about 7 miles east of Dickson, Montgomery Bell State Park is 3,700 acres of Tennessee country. The park holds organized sky-gazing events and golf cart safaris that you can enjoy. There is also a golf course in the park where you can relax and practice your swing. If you prefer to explore on your own, there is a vast network of trails in the park that you can hike or bike on. There is also a lake where swimming, fishing, and kayaking are permitted. Pedal boats and kayaks are available for rental in the park if you don't have your own.
Lake Catherine State Park
On this road trip from Chattanooga to Hot Springs National Park, Lake Catherine State Park is one of the must-see locations in Arkansas. Lake Catherine State Park is a very peaceful stop to make with waterfalls and plenty of water activities. The lake is ideal for fishing, kayaking, swimming, and water-skiing. It even allows full-moon kayaking tours that might feature some of the wildlife in the park at night. There are also several trails and nature walks that you can enjoy in the park, like the wildflower walks and the fall foliage tours.
Lost Sea Adventure
The Lost Sea Adventure is a lot of fun for those who like to explore. The adventure begins with a tour of Craighead Caverns, where you can learn about the cave's history, how it was formed, and the rare formations found there. At the end of the tour, the cavern reaches an underground lake, where you will take a boat ride to see even deeper into the caverns. Above ground, there are also trails, a store, a gem mine, and more that you can explore.
Bee Rock Overlook
Bee Rock Overlook is a hiking trail that is located in Montgomery off I-40. It is a fairly simple hike that is less than a mile in length. Because of its short length, this is an ideal place to take kids to see the views from the top of the trail. The overlook is 39 feet above sea level, and the view of the valley below is stunning. Along the path, you will find several varieties of wildflowers throughout the spring. During the fall, the leaves changing colors are quite beautiful as well. Make sure to plan your hike between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. because the trail is only accessible between those hours.
If you love NASCAR racing, then the Nashville Superspeedway is a place that you will want to check out while you are visiting the area. The track hosted the first NASCAR event in 2001, and it has hosted more than 42 other major races since. This 1.33-mile track is the largest track that is made from all concrete that NASCAR uses. The arena seats 25,000 fans, so check the schedule to see which events are being hosted during your trip.
If you love music, then include Nashville on your road trip itinerary from Chattanooga to Hot Springs National Park. While in the city, make sure to visit sites like the Grand Ole Opry House, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Johnny Cash Museum. Stay at a Nashville campground like Nashville KOA Resort or Two Rivers Campground for planned activities that kids will enjoy. These campgrounds also have dump stations that are free to use for guests.
Memphis is another place known for music from artists like Aretha Franklin, Isaac Hayes, and B.B. King. The city also played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement, so make sure to visit sites like the National Civil Rights Museum to expand your knowledge of the struggle. Other places to explore while visiting the area include Graceland, Beale Street, the Memphis Rock' n' Soul Museum, and the STAX Museum of American Soul. Consider staying at a Memphis campground overnight. Elvis Presley Boulevard RV Park and Graceland RV Park and Campground even have dump stations for your convenience.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Once you reach Little Rock, you will want to stop and explore the city. If you are a fan of classic movies like “Gone with the Wind,” you must stop by the Old Mill, which can be seen in the movie's opening scene. Other attractions include the Little Rock Zoo, the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, and the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. If you need a place to rest for the night, there are plenty of Little Rock campgrounds to consider. Several of these campgrounds have dump stations that you can use for free or for a small fee.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Chattanooga to Hot Springs National Park, 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 Chattanooga or Hot Springs National Park.