Google Map Route US-90W
TUPELO TO NEW ORLEANS
“CRADLE of the Kings”
Natchez Trace Parkway
Start the last leg of your journey around the Americana Music Triangle in world-famous Tupelo, birthplace of Elvis Presley. After seeing Graceland in Memphis on the Delta Highway trail, get a sense for the star’s humble beginnings—the rural region where he first heard the African-American rhythms, gospel tunes and hillbilly music that would become, with his help, the beginnings of rock and roll. On this section of the Gold Record Road, you’ll visit the hometown of the “Father of Country Music,” Jimmie Rodgers. Also influenced by African-American rhythms, he created and popularized country music in a way no one had done at the time, creating a legitimate genre for the combination of hillbilly and blues swirling about the fields of the Americana Music Triangle in the first half of the 20th century. This route along the Natchez Trace parkway is serene and scenic, with detours here and there to sit in on a decades-old community pickin’ jam, dip into mysterious blues history with Robert Johnson, experience a once-in-a-lifetime county fair and more. Travel through Jackson’s urban core for a glimpse of the “City with Soul” before heading back to Natchez and further south to Baton Rouge, the capital of Plantation Country.* End up right where you started, in New Orleans, with a new understanding of the Americana Music Triangle and the cultural exports that have literally changed the world.
*Traveler note: If you’ve driven the Gold Record Road from start to finish, you’ll be retracing your steps in reverse order from Natchez to Baton Rouge and back through New Orleans. All the better to stay awhile this second time through, explore what you didn’t see the first time and soak up the rich history of the Gold Record Road.
In many rural areas, restaurants and other stops are open and ready for business on the weekends only; in other areas, attractions close on Sundays and Mondays instead. Be aware that hours of operation may vary, especially in smaller communities, and lodging options can be few and far between. We encourage you to visit websites, make phone calls and prepare in advance in order to catch these sites—small businesses and small towns in particular—at their best.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a linear National Park; you won’t find gas stations, convenience stores or other quick stops on this scenic route, unless you jump off the Trace and into one of the corridor communities along the way. Be sure to start with a full tank of gas, and keep your speed in check—the 50 mph limit on this scenic drive is actively enforced.
The rural South is economically diverse, with pockets of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, which can raise safety questions with travelers. Our advice is to behave as you would in any urban area—keep car doors locked, keep valuables with you and don’t flaunt jewelry or cash.
This information was accurate when published but can change without notice.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected the hours and operation of many sites and businesses. Please confirm hours and availability before you visit.
REGIONAL & STATE TRAVELER RESOURCES
Scenic Trace, a comprehensive guide to traveling the 444-mile route between Nashville and Natchez
Mississippi Country Music Trail
Mississippi Blues Trail
Civil War Trails
Natchez Trace Travel, Free Natchez Trace itinerary planning and B&B/cottage reservation service
Atchafalaya National Heritage Area