While you can use Interstate 95 North and Interstate 77 North to scoot between Jacksonville and Columbus, there are so many fabulous places for you to stop and explore along the way. You can easily have a paddling adventure in Congaree National Park, hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, ride horses in Shenandoah National Park and go biking at Cuyahoga Valley National Park if you are willing to drive just a few miles further. There are lovely state parks to visit, and they make a great place to relax while sitting around a campfire. You may also want to explore Savannah, Georgia, Charlotte, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on your road trip from Jacksonville to Columbus.
Congaree National Park
You will have to look way up to see the tops of many of the trees at Congaree National Park near Hopkins, South Carolina. Cedar Creek is a terrific place for a kayaking adventure through the old-growth bottomland forest. Your experience can last from a few hours to several days by using the creek to connect to other waterways near this 26,276-acre park. Starting near the Harry Hampton Visitor Center, many trails allow you to venture into more developed areas of this park or head out on a backcountry camping trip. This park is also an excellent place for fishing fun.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Once you get to Charlotte, North Carolina, you will want to turn east and enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Starting your adventure here will put you near the Cataloochee Valley with its historic buildings to explore. This valley is also a great place to see elk grazing in grassy meadows. Several short hikes bring you to waterfalls with amazing views. It is easy to reach Mingus Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in the Southern Appalachian region. There are at least two bike trails on the North Carolina side of the park.
Shenandoah National Park
Once you get to Roanoke, Virginia, head northeast about 90 minutes to visit Shenandoah National Park, a park that features over 180 miles of equestrian trails. It has a stable near the middle of the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive, so arrange for a trail ride. Fish in some of the 70 mountain streams in this park. Many claim the best trout fishing is near the Rapidan Camp, which President Hoover used as his getaway spot. This park near Luray, West Virginia, is also a fantastic spot to watch the stars at night while sitting around a campfire at one of the campgrounds.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Leave time on your road trip itinerary from Jacksonville to Columbus to continue northeast about two hours to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Brecksville, Ohio. A great way to get an overview of this park is by climbing aboard the scenic train for a 180-minute ride. Over 125 miles of hiking trails run across quiet streams and lead you across log bridges. The Cuyahoga River is a fantastic place for a kayaking adventure or to catch fish for supper.
Skidaway Island State Park
Be sure to explore Skidaway Narrows by stopping at Skidaway Island State Park near Savannah, Georgia. This park is an awesome place to go hiking through maritime forests and past salt marshes. You are likely to see deer, fiddler crabs, raccoons, and egrets on your hike before you reach the observation tower. Climb the tower for amazing views of the Intercoastal Waterway.
Crowders Mountain State Park
If you love rock climbing and bouldering, you will want to include a stop at Crowders Mountain State Park on your Jacksonville to Columbus road trip. While the trails can be challenging, once you summit Pinnacle or Crowders Mountain, you will be so glad you made the effort, as you can see up to 25 miles on a clear day. Park rangers regularly lead interpretative programs, and you will not want to miss strolling through the visitors center with its museum-quality displays.
Smith Mountain Lake State Park
When you get to Roanoke, turn east to reach Smith Mountain Lake State Park about 34 miles from Huddleston, Virginia. Play on the second-largest freshwater lake in the state. Cool off by going for a swim at the swimming beach. Striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and catfish can all be caught while shore fishing or from a boat. Boats, including jet skis, are available to rent throughout the summer.
Chief Logan State Park
You will not want to miss the opportunity to explore Chief Logan State Park near Logan, West Virginia. Settle into a seat to watch one of the live musicals held at this park's outdoor amphitheater each summer. You will also want to visit the Museum in the Park, which features local history and continually changing exhibits on loan from the state's history museum and the state's archives. Special events such as wildflower hikes, music festivals, frontier days, and Christmas celebrations occur almost every month, so be sure to check the park's calendar.
Buckeye Lake State Park
Before you finish your road trip from Jacksonville to Columbus, stop at Buckeye Lake State Park, the oldest state park in Ohio. Its 3,100-acre lake is a fantastic place to go swimming, play on the beach, and fish. Many people come to this park seasonally to go waterfowl hunting.
Oatland Island Wildlife Center
Oatland Island Wildlife Center near Savannah, Georgia, allows you to get nose to nose with grey wolves, watch birds of prey perform, and go on short hikes along a marsh. They often feature toddler programming as well.
Reynolds House Museum of American Art
See paintings and sculptures created over three centuries ago by touring the Reynolds House Museum of American Art. After you check out the art gallery in the main home, you will want to head up the stairs to the attic to see their costume collection. Then, stroll around the estate on trails, with many connecting to Wake Forest University's campus, located next door.
Historic Bethabara Park
You will feel like you have stepped back into the 18th century when you visit Historic Bethabara Park in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Here, you can see original or reconstructed buildings dating from 1782 to 1832, including a brewer's house and a potter's shed. Learn more by interacting with the costumed park attendants.
The Wilds Zoo
Go on a safari at The Wilds Zoo near Cumberland, Ohio. You may see giraffes, elands, dholes, and cheetahs and more. Jack Hanna served as one of their original board members, and his ideas inspired many of the exhibits.
You will want to stop in Savannah to explore Forsyth Park and the historic district. You can find many Savannah RV campgrounds that have tall shade trees and beautiful settings. Consider staying at the Biltmore Gardens RV Park or Skidaway Island State Park. Like those available at Savannah Oaks RV Resort and Cat Head Creek RV Park, Savannah RV dump stations make it easy to dump your wastewater before heading into the mountains for the next leg of your Jacksonville to Columbus RV road trip.
Charlotte, North Carolina
If you are an angler, you will love many of the campgrounds in the Charlotte area, like Norwoods Campground and Forest Lake Preserve RV Resort. RV dump stations make it easy to refill your water tanks. Consider those at McDowell Nature Preserve Campground and Lakeside Lodges & Campground.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
If you love swimming and other water activities, Winston-Salem is a fantastic place to camp as many Winston-Salem campgrounds offer a pool. Consider staying at Tanglewood RV Campground or Cross Winds Family Campground. Winston-Salem RV dump stations are available at Oak Hollow Family Campground while exploring this beautiful city park or Camping World while shopping for supplies for the RV.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Jacksonville to Columbus, 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 Jacksonville or Columbus.