An RV trip from Dallas, Texas, to Mammoth Cave National Park takes you over 755 miles, through countryside, wilderness, and urban centers. From Dallas, head east on Interstate 30 to Little Rock, Arkansas, then take Interstate 40 through Memphis to Nashville, Tennessee. From Nashville take Interstate 65 north to exit 48 at Park City, Kentucky, then Route 70 to the Mammoth Creek Entrance Road, which will take you to the Mammoth Cave National Park.
While staying in Dallas, Texas, enjoy the vibrant Arts District on the northside of downtown. This is the largest contiguous arts district in the US, with several venues including the Dallas Museum of Art, a symphony center, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art. Also, in the downtown area, visitors can access the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, an 180,000 square foot museum with six floors of exhibits. There are also numerous theaters for the performing arts in the city as well as informal live music venues. Shopping and dining are plentiful in Dallas, as are parks and tourist attractions such as the Dallas Zoo and Reunion Tower. Sports fans can enjoy Dallas Cowboys Tailgating prior to games during the football season! RV camping can be found at Dallas-Arlington KOA or a short distance out of town at Cedar Hill State Park.
Visitors to Dallas who want a sweeping vista of this magnificent urban center won’t want to miss a trip up Reunion Tower. The tower is 560 feet tall and topped by a glowing ball that gives the building a distinctive look. The GeO-Deck sits at the 470-foot mark of the tower and provides amazing 360 degree, panoramic views of the city. There are high-definition zoom cameras, interactive touch screens, telescopes, and free digital photos at the observation deck, which has an indoor and outdoor space allowing visitors to see for miles over the city. Monitors with touch screens encourage visitors to add their name and information to create a “star” and avatar for an interactive experience.
Visit the observation deck in the day to view city details and streetscapes from above, or at night to take in the beautiful city lights. Interior exhibits explain Dallas landmarks including the Texas Book Depository and the events of November 22, 1963 associated with it. While at the tower, enjoy a meal at the fine dining revolving restaurant, Fifty Six, on the tower's top level. The restaurant is managed by Wolfgang Puck Catering. There is also the Cloud 9 Cafe at the observation deck, which serves more casual meals and still provides the 360-degree view of the city from behind glass. A gift shop at the base of the tower sells souvenirs and novelty items to commemorate your Reunion Tower visit.
Just after you pass through Little Rock, Arkansas, on Interstate 40, take exit 169 south on Route 15, then head west on Highway 832 and 386 to Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park. This park is home to an interesting archeological site where Arkansas’s tallest American Indian mound, at 49 feet, is preserved.
These mounds were once ceremonial grounds for local Native American people, and are situated equal distances apart to create an ancient calendar. The position of the sun, on the horizon over the mounds, could be used to measure the passing seasons. Solstice and equinox events are held annually at the park, so visitors can experience the marking of the seasons by using the earthen calendar. Once, 18 mounds stood here, but today only three remain. The mounds are surrounded by an earthen embankment and date back to between 650 and 1050 AD.
The visitor center here exhibits artifacts from the site and provides information brochures for self-guided tours. Explore the site on one of two trails located here. The .8 mile Knapp Trail and the 1.6 mile Plum Bayou Trail. Both trails pass near Mound Lake, and there is a boardwalk on the shore allowing you to get a closer look at the lake habitat. It is a mystery why the local native people abandoned the site, giving visitors something to speculate on during their visit.
While camping in the region, RVers will find campsites at Willow Beach Recreation Area and Campground, David D. Terry Dam Site West Recreation Area, or Tar Camp Recreation Area and Campground, which are all within easy driving distance from the park's archaeological site and visitor center.
As you travel east on Interstate 40, about ½ way between Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, plan an overnight stay with excellent RV camping at Natchez Trace State Park. Equestrians traveling with horses find facilities at the Natchez Trace Wrangler Camp, and the Cub Lake Campgrounds 1 and 2 provide pet-friendly campsites. The Cub Lake sites are open seasonally and available for reservation.
There are 23 sites at Campground 1 with water and electric hookups that accommodate RVs up to 25 feet, and an RV dump station nearby. Campground 2 has 46 sites, and accommodates RVs up to 20 feet in length, with no hookups. The Pin Oak Campground has 77 sites that are available year-round. RVs up to 80 feet are accommodated, and there are full hookups available. You can enjoy swimming, boating, and beach activities on Pin Oak Lake and there is a playground and picnic shelter located nearby. The Natchez Trace State Park covers 48000 acres and features terrain with views of the Tennessee River, streams, forests, lakes, and open areas. This is a great park for hiking, cycling, and fishing.
A trip through Nashville would not be complete without paying homage to the “Man in Black”. Located in the same building as the Patsy Cline Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum exhibits an extensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia. Give yourself about an hour to tour the museum. While visiting the museum you can have a snack at the Johnny Cash Museum Cafe, and shop for souvenirs and giftware at the museum store.
Right next door is the Johnny Cash Kitchen and Saloon which has a more extensive menu and live music performances. There is no parking associated with the museum. Park your RV at a local campground, such as Nashville KOA or nearby state parks, and use a passenger vehicle to access nearby downtown parking.
The museum is open seven days a week, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Days, from 9 AM to 7 PM. The Johnny Cash Museum was ranked the #1 music museum by Forbes, Conde’ Nast, and National Geographic Traveler. Fans won’t be disappointed by the Johnny Cash exhibits and displays here!
The Mammoth Cave system at Mammoth Cave National Park is the longest cave system in the world. There are abundant caves to explore, and cave tours you can sign up for at the visitor center, as well as above-ground trails and tours. Please note that strollers, tripods, walking sticks, and backpacks are not permitted on cave tours, and nor is flash photography. Service animals only are permitted in the caves - no pets.
Cave tours are frequently sold out, so reservations are recommended. Bring a jacket as the caves temperatures are cool, especially during the winter months, and be prepared for some strenuous hiking on some of the tours which involve stair climbs. Easier and more accessible tours are available. Tours your party can choose from include the Frozen Niagara Tour, Mammoth Passage Tour, Historic Tour, Domes and Dripstone Tour, Mammoth Cave Accessible Tour, Gothic Avenue Tour, River Styx Tour, Violet City Lantern Tour, Great Onyx Tour, and Star Chamber Tour. Tours are offered at different times of the day, and vary according to the season. GPS and Google map services are not reliable for use in getting to the visitor center, check directions first. Go to Mammoth Caves Website for details on schedule, directions, and reservations.
When you arrive at your destination of Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, be prepared for fabulous geological wonders and wilderness terrain. The park is open year round, with the exception of Christmas Day. Visitors in the winter months, however, should be prepared for cooler, wet conditions. The cave system is vast, and there are numerous tours that can be arranged at the visitor center to explore the fascinating caves. There is plenty to do above ground too! Hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing are all popular activities for visitors to the park.
RV campers will find two campgrounds, Maple Springs Group Campground, and Mammoth Cave Campground. Campgrounds accommodate RVs up to 40 feet in length, however, there are no hookups. Maple Springs Group Campground is geared towards group camping and has some reservable sites. There is potable water during the peak season. Mammoth Cave Campground is situated near the visitor center and features 111 sites in three different loops. Amenities here include flush toilets, showerhouses, a camp store, amphitheater, and RV dump station. Two sites are designated VIP sites that have hookups and sites are reservable.