In addition to traditional national parks, Tennessee is also home to national battlefields, historical parks, rivers, and trails. Having a vacation rental in Tennessee means that you have the opportunity to learn about the survival of the Cherokee people on the Trail of Tears, go horseback riding on the Natchez Trace Parkway, or learn more about Andrew Johnson’s presidency at the national historic site. Here are Tripping.com’s top 10 national parks in Tennessee.
1. Obed Wild & Scenic River
The Obed is a river along the Cumberland Plateau in Wartburg, Tennessee. The river system is 45 miles and is great for fishing for catfish, bass, and more. There are also hiking trails, grill stations at the Nemo Picnic Area, and various rock climbing routes that go up to 200 feet.
2. Shiloh National Military Park
Wander through Civil War battlefields and see where 110,000 American troops fought. Visit the Interpretive Center to see demonstrations on how old tools of war were used, watch historical films, or take an audio auto tour. There are also daily interpretive programs hosted by rangers from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
As America’s most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains are a must see while staying at your vacation rental in Tennessee. Popular activities in the park include backpacking, waterfall walks, watching wildlife, fishing, and biking. Make sure to visit Cades Cove, which is a prime spot to see wildlife such as black bear, ground hog, and white-tailed deer.
4. Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
The Trail of Tears is where the Cherokee people traveled in 1838 and 1839 when they were removed from their homes. Learn about the stories of injustice and survival at several locations in Tennessee, such as Audubon Acres and the Brainerd Mission Cemetery in Chattanooga, and other states, such as Alabama, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.
5. Fort Donelson National Battlefield
Located in Dover, Tennessee, Fort Donelson is a notable Civil War fort that Ulysses S. Grant captured from the South in 1862. The victory helped keep Kentucky in the Union. Visit the Cumberland River batteries, which were built to defend the river’s supply routes and bases.
6. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
If you’re looking to explore the outdoors while staying in Tennessee, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is a great place to take your family. Explore the park by renting mountain bikes or kayaks, going canoeing, or going on a whitewater rafting trip.
7. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Part of the 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail, which was completed in 1937, runs through Tennessee for about 94 miles. The trail is free to hike on and open year round. You can hike along the Virginia Creeper Trail to Holston Mountain or wander through the Roan Highlands.
8. Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway, which is a 444-mile trail, goes through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. Visit the Meriwether Lewis Monument at milepost 385.9, where you can see interpretive displays about Lewis’ life, or go along the Fall Hollow Trail to see a series of small waterfalls.
9. Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and National Cemetery
If you’re looking for a historic day trip, visit the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and National Cemetery to learn about Andrew Johnson’s presidency, which was from 1865 to 1869. Head to the Visitor’s Center to get a ticket for one of the five daily guided tours through Andrew Johnson’s homestead.
10. Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail goes for 330 miles across four states, including Tennessee. There are 87 miles of walkable paths along with a Commemorative Motor Route, exhibits, museums, and historic sites. If you’re looking for a shorter walking trail, try the Choate’s Ford Walking Trail in Bluff City. Alternatively, you can walk along the Birchfield Trail, which is 3.5 miles from the Hampton Creek Cove State Natural Area.
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