As full-time RV’ers we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the “Off the Beaten Path” of every state. We love the big popular stuff like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different and maybe a little “off the beaten path”. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to include your favorites below too. Each series will include at least 1 epic boondocking area, some complete with pictures and all with GPS coordinates.
Ahhhh Mississippi! Have you driven the Natchez Trace Parkway? It’s 444 miles through 3 states with amazing history and sights. We actually started in Tennessee, and drove down to Mississippi. I have a detailed 3 part series – Click the button below.
We thought about waiting to write about Mississippi until we went back a second time because most of what we saw was during out stop in Natchez after driving the Natchez Trace. But we had such amazing things to share, we wanted to go ahead and share it now. Check back in a few months! We will be updating this just after the new year when we plan to go back to Mississippi.
Fun Facts about Mississippi:
- Kermit the Frog was born in Leland, Mississippi
- It’s also where Elvis was born.
Windsor Ruins – We found the story behind this absolutely fascinating. This was by far my favorite thing to see. I love castles, mysteries, and ruins. This was all of those! Windsor mansion was located on a plantation that covered 2,600 acres. The mansion was constructed between 1859 and 1861 for Smith Coffee Daniell II, who was born in Mississippi and had acquired great wealth as a cotton planter by age 30. In 1849, Smith Daniell married his cousin (interesting huh?) Catherine Freeland. The couple had six children, with three surviving to adulthood. Much of the basic construction of Windsor mansion was accomplished by Smith Daniell’s slaves. On April 28, 1861, Smith Daniell died at age 34, just weeks after construction of the mansion was completed.
The mansion stood from 1861 to 1890, when it was destroyed by fire. The mansion was never photographed in it’s completion. And to this day there has never been any known photographs found of the completed mansion. There is only someone’s drawing of it found many years later. Hummmm … makes you wonder! Really enjoyed visiting this site. Such mystery surrounding his death, the fire, no known photograph … just fascinating. The ruins are falling. Literally. So don’t miss this while you can still see this. It’s not far off the Natchez Trace, but don’t take your RV. Though it might be doable in a small one, if you have the choice, don’t do it. The parking near this is small and hard to turn around if your RV is large. The huge oak tree on the property was massive!
Only regret we had … not bringing our drone to fly. We are very law-abiding, rule following drone flyers, and it looks like you can freely fly your drone here, which had we brought it, we would have.
Cypress Swamp – I think this was one of my favorite stops. This loop takes you through a pretty amazing, but very short walk, Cypress Swamp. I didn’t realize just how unique and different Cypress trees grew. Though we were hoping to see an alligator, none seemed to be there while we were there.
Sunken Trace – Make sure you stop at this! The trace appears sunken in this spot due to thousands of travelers walking on the easily eroded soil. This short trail will allow you to walk on the Natchez Trace just as thousands have before you. It was really a neat thing to see!
Rocky Springs Abandoned Town – This was another of my very favorite stops. We actually stayed in the Rocky Springs campground (see GPS coordinates below), so we were able to spend quite a bit of time here. This is an abandoned town. There isn’t much to see here in ways of structures or old town buildings. They have a couple old safe’s still, the church, which had a sign out for the next gathering, so we have to assume it’s still an operational church which was super cool. They history on why this town perished is really sad and unique. Again, I don’t want to spoil it for you. We did quite a bit of research on the history of places on the Natchez Trace, but I tried not to read the stories before going. Only after. So that way we could learn while we were standing right in front of it. For us, that makes it so much more exciting.
French Camp – We loved this stop! It’s a wide open place where you can walk around the grounds, and read the history, see and touch the old farm implements and you have to eat at the little restaurant (best potato soup ever!). We also learned there is a school there. Not a typical school but some sort of school where the kids live there. From listening we understand it’s much like the “Hershey School” in PA. Also loved walking through the gift shops (there are 2). There is also a carriage house you can stay overnight in, and they have a wonderful bed and breakfast. Plan to spend a few hours here. It’s a great little community!
There is a real wonderful Children’s Museum in Jackson. We did not stop there, but if you have children traveling with you, it’s comes highly recommended. It’s a bit on the pricey side from what I’ve seen, but definitely do some research on it. It looks like it’s a great place to spend a day!
Have you ever taken a tour of the antebellum Homes in Natchez? We enjoyed a beautiful tour of a couple of them, and found the historical stories really interesting. You can get information on all the homes at the welcome center in Natchez.
Did you know you can stay at the welcome center in Natchez for 2 nights for free? We did it! Very friendly people at the visitors center and they even have 20 and 30 amp hookups for us! Fresh water can be filled as you come (or leave) on the other side of the parking lot. GPS: 31.5543, -91.4131
Rocky Springs Campground (Natchez Trace Parkway) Hermanville, MS // GPS: 32.0868, -90.7994
Airey Lake Recreation Area // De Soto National Forest // GPS: 30.6892, -89.0611 We really enjoyed this area. Easy access camping, and aside from the one man who arrived on the motorcycle, clearly down on his luck, and not real happy (about anything) we had a great time here. Loved the little lake, and the ducks and the views were awesome, and our cell service was great!
2019 Update! We’re back!!! We found a great boondocking place not far from Airey Lake (see above) but it’s a little more open for big rigs. It’s an old POW camp which has some amazing history and the ammunition bunkers are still there! GPS location on photo!
As always — Please share with us your Off the Beaten Path places in Mississippi you’ve experienced. And please check out all our other states in this series. And remember, Live Simply, Give More and Expect less. When was the last time you did something for the first time?