The history of the South is complicated, with many twists and turns. To experience the history of the South, take an extended road trip from Jackson to Mobile, AL. Along the way, make sure to visit national parks dedicated to preserving the land and national historical parks that maintain the memory of important events. The cities of the South that you travel through are worth visiting. Take extra time to stop at state parks to experience the wonders of nature while living comfortably. To see this history in motion, follow this road trip itinerary from Jackson to Mobile.
Natchez National Historical Park
To begin your trip through the South’s history, travel 166 miles southwest from Jackson to see Natchez National Historical Park. The park consists of a large “preservation district” and four separate properties, including the William Johnson House, Forks of the Road, Melrose, and Fort Rosalie. The French built Fort Rosalie to control traffic along the Mississippi River. Forks of the Road is the original slave-selling block. Melrose is the mansion of a slave-owner that is considered the most Southern of houses still existing today. The William Johnson House is the home of a freed slave who successfully built a significant business portfolio during his adulthood.
Hot Springs National Park
When you leave Natchez, travel 309 miles north to visit Hot Springs National Park. In this park, you discover natural hot springs used for millennia to cure the seriously ill. The springs result from volcanic activity that helped build the Ozarks and are still active today. The steam from the rocks led Native Americans and early European explorers to believe in mystical powers embodied within the waters. For a time, entrepreneurs developed bathhouses billed as a natural cure for “whatever ails you.” After the invention of antibiotics, the springs lost their luster and were handed over to the federal government as an ancient artifact worthy of preservation. Today, the park stands as a historically important place preserved as closely as possible in its natural state for public enjoyment.
Mammoth Cave National Park
After enjoying the history of the Hot Springs, travel northeast through Little Rock, Memphis, and Nashville to see Mammoth Cave National Park. Here, you enter an underground realm that previous civilizations referred to as "The Residence of Gods." These caverns are the most extensive set of underground passages known to exist in the world. With over 400 miles of caves and more still to be explored, this system evokes memories of past shelters in which humans huddled for ages before the concept of civilization took hold. After the initial discovery of these caves, visitors were welcome to sign the walls and ceilings of the first few rooms. Once the importance of the caves became evident, Mammoth Cave was designated as a national park, preserving it in its natural state for study and the enjoyment of the public.
Manhattan Project National Historical Park
From Mammoth Cave National Park, drive 200 miles southeast to visit the Oak Ridge site of the Manhattan Project. Arguably the most important and secretive project ever attempted by any civilization during a time of war, the Manhattan Project delivered the atom bomb and the scientific knowledge that led to the creation of nuclear power. Today, the buildings and machinery that provided the initial push toward atomic energy are in place with guides to explain the workings involved in the project at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
Lake Lincoln State Park
Located midway between Jackson and Natchez, Lake Lincoln State Park is the perfect spot to stop after your first day on the road. The 550-acre Lake Lincoln is ideal for watersports, fishing, and swimming. Hiking trails around the lake enter and exit forests filled with loblolly, pine, hardwood, dogwood, and magnolia trees, providing an exotic feel uniquely Southern.
Nolin Lake State Park
While you are visiting Mammoth Cave National Park, stay at Nolin Lake State Park campgrounds. These campgrounds provide campsites for 26 RVs up to 55 feet long. Modern amenities such as restrooms with flush toilets and bathhouses with hot showers are available for every camper. There are hiking trails that run around the lake and through the hardwood and evergreen forest. The fishing on Nolin Lake is legendary.
Gulf State Park
As a final camping location on your Jackson to Mobile road trip, visit Gulf State Park. Located 48 miles south of Mobile, the park sits on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. Its sandy white beaches beckon sunbathers and shoreline anglers. Wanderers find plenty of seashells to collect during the warm sunny days and wonder at the effervescence ignited by wave action in the night. Accessible boardwalks let visitors walk amongst the swamps and pools that appear here and there in the park.
After viewing the beautiful homes in Natchez and the Natchez National Historical Park, visit the Emerald Mound. This 8-acre plateau was constructed as a ceremonial location by Native Americans who occupied the area along the Mississippi between 1250 and 1600. To build it, the natives piled dirt beside an already existing hill to reshape the landscape. Two smaller mounds sit atop the artificial plateau. Emerald Mound is the second-largest such structure in North America.
Though music is the primary draw in Nashville, there was a time when the city was considered the “Athens of the South.” Designed and built for the 1897 Centennial Exposition of Tennessee, the Parthenon is an exacting replica of the original structure standing in Athens, Greece. This monument to classic Greek architecture serves as the Nashville Art Museum with an impressive array of 19th- and 20th-century paintings from American artists.
USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
Visiting the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park is a great way to finish your Jackson to Mobile RV road trip. You can explore an array of military equipment at this park, including the USS Alabama, a battleship of WWII; the USS Drum, the oldest submarine on display in the United States; and a military aircraft museum. Inside the USS Alabama, you can explore 12 floors, get locked in the brig, sit in a gun turret, and much more. Before you leave, make sure to take a ride on the flight simulator to experience what a military pilot sees and feels during combat maneuvers.
Little Rock, Arkansas
After you visit Hot Springs National Park, stop in Little Rock to take advantage of their many dump stations. While you are in the city, make sure to stroll through Riverfront Park with its many bridges and monuments. Take in a bit of history by visiting the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site where “the Little Rock Nine” were denied access to the school by the Arkansas governor, sparking a conflict with the White House and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. To stay a night or two and see the sights, register at one of the many campgrounds in the area.
You cannot pass through Nashville without visiting the music scene. Stay at one of the many campgrounds around Nashville for a few nights on your Jackson to Mobile road trip to enjoy the city’s musical persona. Go to the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Then, spend an evening in Downtown Nashville to enjoy the live music presented by up-and-coming music stars. While you are here, take advantage of Nashville’s dump stations.
When you are in Birmingham, AL, you are getting near the end of your extended road trip from Jackson to Mobile. Make sure to take advantage of the dump stations while you are in town in preparation for the final 257 miles of your journey. Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama and one of the youngest. Created in 1878, it was the center of an immense amount of industrial activity. As the population grew, so did the restaurant business. Today, there is an incredible diversity of restaurants in Birmingham. Stop by the Chez Fonfon for French cooking, the Hot and Hot Fish Club to sample Southern cuisine or John’s City Diner for classic American tastes. If you wish to stay awhile, register at one of the many campgrounds near Birmingham.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Jackson to Mobile, 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 Jackson or Mobile.