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 > Southeast Texas to the Smoky Mountains

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southerngirl76

Texas

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Posted: 08/12/19 08:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hello all! We just purchased our first RV! A 24 foot 1991 Ford Ultra Class C. We have taken it out on a couple small trips and worked out some kinks. We have also totally remodeled the interior and had a blast doing that.

Now I need your help and sage advice. This Christmas we are heading to the Smoky Mountains from Brenham, Texas, meeting our friends from Minnesota in Nashville and caravanning together from there to the Smokies. They have a 29 foot class C of some sort but I forget exactly. We can leave on Friday the 20th when my husband gets home from work around 6PM or we can leave bright and early on Saturday the 21st. We need to be home by the 1st as my husband has to go back to work the next day.

Ideally we would like to make a loop and not come home the same way we get there. I've looked at Tom Sawyer in the Mississippi as a possible stop over for Memphis. I am intrigued by the barges coming by. I haven't a clue where to stay in Nashville or what part of the Smokies. We'd like to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after in the Smokies at least. I have no clue about routes back and forth. What roads are good? Do we stay on interstates the whole time? How do we sight see in Nashville? Is our 24 footer small enough to drive and park? We want to tour Ryman and the Country Music Hall of Fame.


It will be my husband and I (in our 40s - I am in very fit and active and he is slightly less so), our daughters 23 and 16 and our son 7 years old. Our kids are used to super long days in the car so shorter days and on board ammenities are going to be a treat. All the kids are nature and history lovers. Hiking, biking, very active out door type kids usually up for anything. We will also have our dogs with us and if you have a recommendation on a doggy day care for Nashville I'm all ears.

So basically I need information and your expert advice on routes, campgrounds and any interesting activities. I know you guys are a wealth of good infomation.

one_strange_texan

New Caney, TX (when not on the road)

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Posted: 08/12/19 09:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

southerngirl76 wrote:

Hello all! We just purchased our first RV! A 24 foot 1991 Ford Ultra Class C. We have taken it out on a couple small trips and worked out some kinks. We have also totally remodeled the interior and had a blast doing that.

Now I need your help and sage advice. This Christmas we are heading to the Smoky Mountains from Brenham, Texas, meeting our friends from Minnesota in Nashville and caravanning together from there to the Smokies. They have a 29 foot class C of some sort but I forget exactly. We can leave on Friday the 20th when my husband gets home from work around 6PM or we can leave bright and early on Saturday the 21st. We need to be home by the 1st as my husband has to go back to work the next day.

Ideally we would like to make a loop and not come home the same way we get there. I've looked at Tom Sawyer in the Mississippi as a possible stop over for Memphis. I am intrigued by the barges coming by. I haven't a clue where to stay in Nashville or what part of the Smokies. We'd like to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after in the Smokies at least. I have no clue about routes back and forth. What roads are good? Do we stay on interstates the whole time? How do we sight see in Nashville? Is our 24 footer small enough to drive and park? We want to tour Ryman and the Country Music Hall of Fame.


It will be my husband and I (in our 40s - I am in very fit and active and he is slightly less so), our daughters 23 and 16 and our son 7 years old. Our kids are used to super long days in the car so shorter days and on board ammenities are going to be a treat. All the kids are nature and history lovers. Hiking, biking, very active out door type kids usually up for anything. We will also have our dogs with us and if you have a recommendation on a doggy day care for Nashville I'm all ears.

So basically I need information and your expert advice on routes, campgrounds and any interesting activities. I know you guys are a wealth of good infomation.


I will leave the Nashville suggestions to someone else. I have not stayed there in an RV, just passed through. Visited years ago on business.

As far as the loop, I'd take a direct route to Nashville to get there: Texarkana, Little Rock, Memphis. You don't have to take interstates in Texas, you can take a more direct route (and avoid Dallas) on US and Texas state highways. After Texarkana, it will be interstate all the way until just a few miles from the Smokies. You can take a different route by coming back through Chattanooga, Birmingham, and at Meridian decide if you want to come back on I-20 or I-59/I-10.

Winter weather could possibly be a factor at the time you are going, especially in Smoky Mountain National Park due to its elevation.

As far as camping in the Smoky Mountain area, it really depends on your preferences on amenities, RV park or more primitive campgrounds. There are plenty of RV parks to choose from. We chose to stay in Townsend, since it has nice RV parks but much less tourist traffic than Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. We drove over to see Gatlinburg and just passed through Pigeon Forge, which mainly seemed to be tourist shops and you-know-who's amusement park. Again, it depends on what you want to do while you are there.

I suspect most of the towns right by the park in Tennessee will be fixed up for a "Smoky Mountain Christmas," so it should be fun. Hiking is available in the National Park, but maybe less so in the winter.

In terms of historical sites, I'd choose my stops on the way based on the trip schedule. In that region and especially near the Smokies, historical sites are all around. See what is available near the sites where you decide to stay.


one_strange_texan
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Irover

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Posted: 08/13/19 06:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Use RvParkReviews.com/Nashville Tn. Never stayed there but there is: Yogi Bear RV Park that has an awesome Christmas light show. I believe shuttles are available as well as Uber and Lyft. Hope this helps!

chris3403

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Posted: 08/13/19 08:36am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

First off most RV parks are closed in the winter by 5PM so I’d be looking at the Saturday start. From where you are to Memphis is 576 miles which in a RV is a very long haul. Going to take you around 9 and a half hours just to drive it and that doesn’t include time for your gas and other stops. A more logical stop (443 miles) would be in downtown Little Rock right on the river. Downtown Tell them you want a spot that backs up (you can also pull in) to the river.
From Little Rock, Nashville is only 350 miles which is very doable. While I haven’t stayed here Nashville I have been by the RV park on a number of occasions and it is only 3 miles from the Grand Ole Opry.

I’ve stayed here in Pigeon Forge Smokies it’s a nice park conveniently located and the trolley stops right in front of the RV park. Course I don’t know if you want to be riding a trolley or not in the winter time.

On the way home if you put in Pigeon Forge and your city it wants to bring you back through Birmingham and Baton Rouge 1,030 miles vs 1,007 coming back the same way you went. Birmingham and I10 will beat you to death, I wouldn’t do it in a RV if I didn’t have to.
To me it makes more sense to come home the same way you went and if you do than this would be the time to consider Tom Sawyer because from Pigeon Forge to there would be 425 miles and would still leave you 582 miles to do on your last day.
I would bite the bullet and figure 2 nights on the way home. Possibly staying at Parkers Crossroad Nice Park which is 315 miles from Pigeon Forge and maybe Texarkana, AR for the 2nd night right at 400 miles at either exit 7 Rising Sunor down on 59 south of Texarkana at RV Park
Remember it’s winter time so call ahead early for reservations or they will be closed when you get there. I would definitely make a reservation in Pigeon Forge at least 2 months in advance if not more.

Johno02

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Posted: 08/13/19 10:32am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In Nashville, we really like this place, because it is not in the tourists area down on Music row. However, the ones there are nice also, an we have had not complaints when we stayed at those. In Memphis, Tom Sawyer is the place, but check with them to make sure they are not in the river. It has happened several times recently.
Crossville, TN on I-40 is a good inbetween stop, Bean Pot campground is very nice, with all features you could need.


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ken56

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Posted: 08/13/19 10:44am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Maximize your time in your destinations and do the most direct route to Nashville. Take into account that it gets dark by 5pm in December. Yogi Bear is a nice park to stay in. We have stayed there a few times. Not sure that taking the C into the city is a good idea though. Christmas is a busy time in both Nashville and Pigeon Forge and traffic can be heavy. Most things to see there are within a good walking distance. Maybe rent a car or van for the day?


Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are all decked out for Christmas for sure. We live near by and play tourist ourselves during the holidays. Lots to do, lots of dinner shows, always Dollywood to do which goes all out for Christmas but it's pricey. Pine mountain is a good option to stay at because the Mianstay Suites allows you to use their indoor pool, same owners of the RV park and hotel.


Best route is straight down 40 through Knoxville to exit 407. Weather should be good yet at that time but you never know. We don't get terrible winters here and snow usually stays in the mountains for the most part. Again you may want to rent a van to get around instead of taking the C everywhere.

southerngirl76

Texas

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Posted: 08/13/19 12:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow I knew I could count on you all for some excellent advice! It absolutely makes sense to me now to stop in Little Rock on the way there and Memphis on the way home. I will check out all of the suggestions of routes and rv parks and let you all know what we decide. My kids will love the places all decorated for Christmas!

TxGearhead

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Posted: 08/13/19 03:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Shady Pines Rv Park on Hwy 67 just west of Texarkana is usually our first stop. Tom Sawyers is good. After that it depends on how fast you want to get there.


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southerngirl76

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Posted: 08/13/19 08:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ok here is what I tentatively have. This is a very very very rough draft and I have much to research.

December 21 leave our home at 7am and drive to Little Rock, AR. Hoping to get a reservations at Downtown Riverside RV Park for one night.

December 22 drive to Nashiville. I am still researching campgrounds but will stay 2 nights. Tour Ryman and Country Music Hall of Fame.

December 24th drive to the Smokies for 3 nights - everything is yet to be determined here. Possibly dinner show at Dollywood and Christmas Lights.

December 27th drive to Chattanooga - 1 night, see Rock City. I remember seeing this as a child. I'd like to go back. Need to find camground.

December 28th drive to Memphis - 1 night at Tom Sawyer

December 29th drive to Hot SPrings - 1 or 2 nights. I'd like to stay at the national park but probably need to look elsewhere

30th or 31st - drive to somewhere in NE Texas. Maybe Atlanta SP or somewhere around there. Head home the next day.

This gives us a couple long days to get there, Then time to relax and enjoy and finally liesurely drive home and see things and stay places we havent before.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

wowens79

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Posted: 08/13/19 08:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Im a big fan on leaving after work and gettin 4-5 hours down the road. I'll pack the day before, and when I get home, change clothes and hit the road.

Also have you found a campsite in Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg yet?? Many of the campgrounds close after the fall leaf season and the open back up in the spring. Also between Christmas and New Years is a really busy time there. We went the day after Christmas a few years ago, and the area is packed, but we had a great time.


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