Driving from the Big Easy to the heart of Ohio makes for an exciting New Orleans to Columbus road trip. Mountains, valleys, caves, waterfalls, and man-made monuments await you in some of America’s great national parks; you’ll also get to explore a variety of state parks and bustling cities. There are plenty of awesome attractions to add to your road trip itinerary from New Orleans to Columbus, so make your list, gas up your RV, and hit the open road.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Since America’s most popular national park is only three and a half hours east of Nashville, Tennessee, you should definitely explore it on your road trip from New Orleans to Columbus. Great Smoky Mountains National Park draws millions of people per year thanks to its mountain vistas, gorgeous trails, and relaxed atmosphere. More than 800 miles of trails provide plenty of places for riding, biking, and hiking. Fishing and boating are favorite activities as well thanks to the more than 2,100 miles of streams and rivers in the park.
Mammoth Cave National Park
The entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park is only three minutes from your route as it passes through Park City, Kentucky, so it’s well worth visiting on your New Orleans to Columbus RV road trip. You’ll be able to explore some of the 400 miles of the known cave system that calls this park home. Once you’re finished trekking underground, you’ll be able to stroll on some lovely trails and put your boat on the Green River.
Gateway Arch National Park
Before you leave the Louisville area, drive west on Interstate 64 for four hours and visit Gateway Arch National Park. This iconic St. Louis landmark is well worth touring; be sure to go all the way to the top of its impressive 630 feet for great views of the city and the Mississippi River. The park is also home to historic buildings and museums; don't forget to drop by the Old Saint Louis Courthouse, where the Dred Scott case was tried in the 1800s.
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park is four hours northwest of Cincinnati, Ohio. At this park, you’ll be able to explore the sand dunes and other environments thanks to 50 miles of excellent trails. You can also have fun in the sun and surf on the 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Favorite activities here include hiking, biking, riding, swimming, and water sports.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
If you want to prolong your road trip from New Orleans to Columbus, then you should travel two hours north of your final destination to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. There are 100 waterfalls and 100 miles of rivers here, so you won’t have to look too far for great places to fish, boat, and kayak. There’s plenty to do on land as well; 125 miles of trails are perfect for hiking, riding, and biking. You can even hop aboard a scenic railroad and explore some of the park via train. Other popular activities here include stargazing, picnicking, and golfing.
Roosevelt State Park
Roosevelt State Park is an easy 45-minute drive down Interstate 20 west of Meridian, Mississippi. It’s home to Lake Shadow, which is a fun place to go fishing and boating. If you want to swim, you can take advantage of the park’s pool, splash pad, and water slide. Six nature trails take you through the park and give you lovely glimpses of local flora and fauna. If you want to explore the park in a different way, you can play your way through the 18-hole Moccasin Bend Disc Golf Course.
Oak Mountain State Park
When you’re ready to leave the hustle and bustle of Birmingham behind, all you have to do is drive 30 minutes south to Oak Mountain State Park. This park is nearly 10,000 acres large and is home to 50 miles of scenic trails. Three separate lakes combine to give you 230 acres of water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, kayaking, and canoeing. You can also play a round at the Oak Mountain Golf course and practice your aim at the archery park.
David Crockett State Park
If you want to add “Davy Crockett’s old stomping grounds” to your road trip itinerary from New Orleans to Columbus, then you should stop by David Crockett State Park. The park itself is only 40 minutes west of Frankewing, Tennessee. You’ll be able to learn more about the life of the King of the Wild Frontier thanks to the park’s museum and replica grist mill. You can hike and bike on 8 miles of trails, swim in the Olympic-sized pool, and go boating and fishing on David Crockett Lake.
General Butler State Park
Take a look at the confluence of the Ohio and Kentucky Rivers and tour the historic Butler-Turpin Home at General Butler State Park. The park’s entrance is just six minutes from Interstate 71 as it cuts through Carrolton, Kentucky. Multiple trails for hiking and biking are available, as is a lake for fishing and boating. You can also play a round on the mini-golf course.
Paint Creek State Park
Before you reach the end of your New Orleans to Columbus RV road trip, you should drive 35 minutes southeast of Jeffersonville, Ohio, to Paint Creek State Park. Paint Creek Lake itself is nearly 1,150 acres large, so it’s a fabulous place for fishing, swimming, and boating. You can also hike out to see the park’s limestone bluffs and walk around the Highlands Nature Sanctuary.
The Hattiesburg Zoo is only seven minutes off of your route as it goes through Hattiesburg, Mississippi. This zoo has animals from every continent but Antarctica, so you’ll get to see a wide variety of species. Other attractions at the Hattiesburg Zoo include the High Ropes Adventure Course, the Australian Wallaby Walkabout, and the “Touch Africa” petting zoo.
Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure
Before you head into Birmingham, pull off Interstate 20 onto Adventure Parkway and drive five minutes to Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure. This combination water park and amusement park has awesome, exciting rides like Twister, Upsurge!, Neptune’s Plunge, Rampage, and Drop Zone. Don’t forget to stop by the Emporium and Coconut Cove for souvenirs.
This lovely park is only three minutes off of your route as it goes through Nashville, so you should definitely check it out on your road trip from New Orleans to Columbus. A walking trail, a lake, multiple historic monuments, and even a replica of the Parthenon await you here. You can also view some art exhibits at the Centennial Art Center.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
If you want to learn more about the history of the iconic Louisville Slugger brand and its historic relationship with baseball’s all-time greats, then you should pay a visit to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. At this complex, you can tour the bat factory, hold bats that belonged to the best sluggers of all time, and even receive a free mini-bat.
Five minutes from your route in Cincinnati is the fascinating Newport Aquarium. Thousands of penguins, sharks, stingrays, and even white alligators await you at this Ohio aquarium. One awesome attraction here is the Shark Bridge, which is the first exhibit of its kind in the world; if crossing over a shark tank on a rope bridge sounds like your idea of a good time, then you should definitely check it out.
When you’re exploring Hub City, be sure to take a look at great places like the Hattiesburg Zoo and the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum. There are plenty of high-quality dump stations and campgrounds available in the area.
Vulcan Park and Museum, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and more are ripe for exploration in this large Alabama city. You’ll be able to easily find great dump stations and campgrounds close by.
In addition to Churchill Downs, Louisville contains attractions like Angel’s Envy Distillery and the Muhammad Ali Center. You’ll have no trouble finding plenty of dump stations and campgrounds in the Louisville area.
While checking out Cincinnati, don’t forget to visit locations like the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and the Great American Ball Park. There are many dump stations and campgrounds to use while exploring Cincy.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from New Orleans 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 New Orleans or Columbus.