It is only 180 miles between the two cities, but you can have many adventures when you plan a Nashville to Knoxville road trip itinerary. You may want to consider visiting a national park or some state parks, see points of interest and stop in some fantastic cities on your Nashville to Knoxville road trip. You will be immersed in a different period as you visit historical sites. Your muscles may become sore from hiking, but you will feel refreshed as you reconnect with nature.
Great Smoky Mountains
Because the trip is so short, there aren't many national parks to see along the way. The Great Smoky Mountains is a wonderful place to explore on your Nashville to Knoxville RV road trip, however. The highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Mount Le Conte, and you can stand on top of it after a short hike and see for miles. You may also want to visit the park’s many notable spots, like Cades Cove, Cataloochee, the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The wildflowers and waterfalls are particularly beautiful after spring rains. Except for an occasional short rainstorm, summer is a great time to come and explore the mountain streams. Fall is a favorite with many visitors because of the stunning autumn colors in the hardwood forests. Winter brings a special beauty along the hiking trails, where you may be the first one out exploring after a snowfall. The snow also makes it much easier to track animals.
Tennessee state parks are great places to enjoy outdoor recreational activities, and each one features unique sights. Therefore, you will want to include several on your road trip from Nashville to Knoxville.
Rock Island State Park
Rock Island State Park, near Rock Island, Tennessee, is a premier spot to go kayaking. National and international kayaking competitions have been held here. This 883-acre park is located on the headwaters of Center Hill Lake at the confluence of the Caney Fork, Collins and Rocky Rivers. When the Great Falls Dam is generating power, the water offers many thrilling opportunities. You will also want to hike to see the 30-foot Great Falls waterfall. While you are hiking, watch for blue herons as they make a stunning sight when in flight. You may also want to hike through the Caney Fork Gorge before playing on the sandy beach.
Burgess Falls State Park
If you love to watch birds, then climbing the observation deck at Burgess Falls State Park is one of the best things you can do on a road trip from Nashville to Knoxville because of the great number of raptors you are likely to see in flight. If you enjoy waterfalls, this park located near Sparta, Tennessee, has four, including one that is over 183 feet tall. You can also go paddling at this Tennessee state park. Anglers love fishing in the area as well.
Frozen Head State Park
Frozen Head State Park covers more than 24,000 acres. This state park near Wartburg, Tennessee, has more than 50 miles of hiking trails that wind their way through areas that have largely been left untouched. This park gives you an outstanding opportunity to explore areas that have not been modernized. The fact that there are many natural resources makes this park a prime location to go bird-watching. Mountain bikers love riding along trails leading to the top of Frozen Head Mountain. They are awarded with scenic views in every direction. You can also hike up to the top of this mountain. The state’s fish nursery stocks Flat Fork Creek with trout.
Panther Creek State Park
Drive west about six miles from Morristown, Tennessee, and you will reach Panther Creek State Park. Explore this park’s 30 miles of trails through the scenic Holston River Valley on foot, mountain bike or horse. You can catch a big fish in the 30,000-acre Cherokee Lake as fish weighing about 20 pounds are regularly caught. This state park has facilities for you to clean and cook your catch. Swim laps in this park’s swimming pool. If you have children with you, they will love the well-maintained playground. Prove you are the king or queen of disc golf on the 18-hole course.
When you plan a more northerly route for your Nashville to Knoxville road trip itinerary, you can stop and visit many interesting places along the way.
Grand Ole Opry
If you are a fan of country music, then visit the Grand Ole Opry before leaving Nashville. You can often watch live shows at this performing arts venue. You can also take a backstage tour. The tour includes seeing how special effects are produced, watching archival footage of the most important moments in Opry history and viewing 3D photographs.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Learn the story behind some of your favorite country music songs and singers with a stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. See an extensive collection of memorabilia, starting with the earliest recordings, view a large mural dedicated to the people who many of the songs are written about, and listen to a concert in the theater.
Belle Meade Plantation
There are three different guided tours available at the Belle Meade Plantation. You may want to consider including one or more of them on your Nashville to Knoxville road trip. One tour focuses on the historic mansion where the Harding and Jackson families lived in the Greek Revival structure. The second tour focuses on the role that African Americans played in the property’s development. The third tour focuses on the beautiful grounds and gardens. A complimentary wine tasting follows all tours.
While you will have to go about an hour out of your way, seeing Cannonsburgh Village may be worth the effort. You can visit a gristmill, a schoolhouse, a telephone operator's house, the University House, the Leeman House, a museum, a caboose, the Wedding Chapel, a doctor's office, a general store, a blacksmith's shop and a well. This free location is a great place to take photos and learn more about the area’s history.
The Lost Sea is located about an hour south of Knoxville. This sea is underground, and it is the largest underground sea in America. Start your journey by entering the cave. At the bottom, you will get on a boat for a ride through this attraction. No one is sure exactly how large the Lost Sea is, but your tour will cover almost 5 acres. You can also hike along a nature trail.
On your road trip itinerary from Nashville to Knoxville, you may want to stop in some fun Tennessee cities.
This community of about 26,000 people is home to the Wilson County Fair, which is often named one of the top county fairs in the United States. You can camp at Shady Acres RV Park or TN-40 & RV Park. Consider using dump stations at Bledsoe Creek State Park or Cages Bend Campground. You may also want to check out these other Tennessee dump stations. A mere 30 miles to the east of Lebanon are several Nashville-area campgrounds.
Cookeville is a Middle Tennessee regional shopping destination, so leave some time to visit local stores. Many performing arts opportunities exist here, and this community has several museums. Consider camping at Spring Valley RV Park or Old Mill Camp. RV dump stations are available in nearby Baxter at the Twin Lakes Farm and Campground or the Love’s Travel Stop.
This community has strong political ties as it is the home of Al Gore and his father. You can camp at Defeated Creek Campground or nearby Edgar Evins State Park. RV dump stations are available at either campground. There are many other campgrounds in Murfreesboro, which is approximately 56 miles southwest of Carthage.
Consider starting your Nashville to Knoxville RV road trip by exploring attractions in Nashville and a little to the south. Then, see fantastic scenery as you explore state parks before arriving at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Finally, head south a tad to visit the Lost Sea before ending your adventure in Knoxville. If you do not have one of your own, then rent an RV via RVshare in Nashville or Knoxville depending on where you want to start and end your trip.