Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greenville, Tennessee is the site of Andrew Johnson's Homestead as well as his final resting place atop Monument Hill which is now a National Cemetery. Visitors can take Ranger-led tours of his home, explore the Visitor Center, and also get a glimpse of his life before politics at his tailor shop.

President Johnson's tenure as Commander-in-Chief was tumultuous to say the least. Tasked with reconstruction after the Civil War and trying to unify the country, he ultimately became the first President in American history to be impeached. Guests can learn about this important time in America's history as well as find related personal artifacts in the museum.

The original site was established by Congress as a U.S. National Monument in 1935, and eventually redesignated a National Historic Site in 1963.

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site is only about an hour away from Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Foothills Parkway on the east side of the park.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail - CT, GA, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA, VT, WV

Appalachian Trail Tennessee

One of America's most famous trails, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches an incredible 2,180 miles and runs nearly the entire length of the eastern United States from Maine to Georgia. The trail was constructed by private citizens and completed in 1937. Today, the trail is maintained by several federal and state agencies as well as volunteer groups.

Click here for more information on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area - TN, KY

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area protects 125,000 acres of the Cumberland River Plateau in Southern Kentucky and Northern Tennessee. The park is ideal for outdoor recreation like white water rafting, hiking, camping, and rock climbing. In Kentucky there are two visitor centers for the park - the Blue Heron Interpretive Center and the Stearns Visitor Contact Station. Ranger-lead programs like hikes and interpretive talks are available, and guests can also take a ride on the Big South Fork Scenic Railway between Blue Heron and Stearns.

The Blue Heron Interpretative Center and Bookstore are open April 1 through October 31, between 11:00 am - 4:00 pm ET, Wednesday through Sunday.

The Stearns Visitor Center is open Saturdays and Sundays, from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.9:00-5:00 pm ET

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park became the very first National Military Park in the country, and was authorized by Congress in 1890. The Park tells the stories of these two pivotal battles in the American Civil War that were fought in 1863. While the Confederacy won the first in Chickamauga, the Union won a decisive victory at Chattanooga.

Chattanooga served as a critically important supply line to the Confederate Army because of its proximity to the Tennessee River, and by capturing it, the North was able to severely cripple the South's ability to restock. Considered the capital of the Confederacy and the "Gateway to the Deep South", Abraham Lincoln understood its importance. After Chattanooga finally succumbed to the North, a Confederate soldier famously wrote, " the death-knell of the Confederacy".

The headquarters for the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park is located at Chickamauga Battlefield in Fort Oglethorpe, GA. The Visitor Center here has many Civil War era artifacts and exhibits as well as the Fuller Gun Collection, one of the finest collections of small arms in the country. The Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center is located in Lookout Mountain, TN.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park - KY, TN, VA

The Cumberland Gap is a natural break in the Appalachian Mountains, worn down by wind and water, that provided a path for settlers moving west through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. The park ranges from one to four miles wide and is about 26 miles long, encompassing 24,000 acres.

The Park is a haven for plants and wildlife and is also a popular recreation area. With over 80 miles in hiking trails, the park provides a great place in which to view wildlife, camp, or just enjoy the outdoors. The Gap Caves offer an opportunity to explore underground also.

There are two visitor centers for this park, one just south of Middlesboro, Kentucky, and the other near Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. The larger one in Kentucky includes a museum and is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., March 15th - November 14th, and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., November 15th - March 14th. It is closed on Christmas Day.

Fort Donelson National Battlefield - TN, KY

Fort Donelson was a Confederate Fort during the American Civil War, and when the Union captured it in 1862, it proved a pivotal moment in the war. It forced the Confederacy to give up southern Kentucky and large parts of  Middle and West Tennessee. This allowed Nashville to be developed into a major supply depot for the North and allowed them to permanently take control of this vital supply route.

Today, guests can explore the Fort Donelson National Cemetery, the surrounding battlefields, and the Dover Hotel where General Ulysses S. Grant accepted a full and unconditional surrender from General Simon B. Buckner of the Confederacy.

The visitor center is open daily 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - TN, NC

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the busiest park in America, hosting over 11 million visitors annually. It's unique in that it is shared between two states - Tennessee and North Carolina - and is also free to visit. The famous Appalachian Trail runs the length of the park splitting it into two along the border.

Hiking, fishing, camping, and auto touring are popular here as well as wildlife viewing. It has been designated a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve due to its incredible biodiversity. The park is home to several endemic species of salamander giving it the name the 'Salamander Capital of the World'.

The park is also home to Clingmans Dome. At 6,643 feet, it is the highest point in Tennessee and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. It is also the highest point along the Appalachian Trail. On a clear day, the views from here are incredible so don't miss it.

There are four visitors centers scattered around the park along with plenty of trails, campgrounds, and waterfalls to be found. For a complete guide to visiting this park, read our guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park here.

Manhattan Project National Historical Park - TN, NM, WA

Manhattan Project National Historical Park consists of three sites - Los Alamos, NM, Hanford, WA, and Oak Ridge, TN - that interpret the history of America's nuclear age, the creation of the atomic bomb, and the ending of WWII. The New Mexico site encompasses three areas, including the Gun Site Facilities associated with the design of the “Little Boy” bomb. The Tennessee site was the administrative and military headquarters for the Manhattan Project. A bus tour of the facility is included with admission to the American Museum of Science and Energy. The Washington site was primarily used for the enrichment of plutonium, and visitors can tour the B-Reactor, which produced material for the plutonium bomb.

Natchez Trace Parkway - AL, MS, TN

The "Old Natchez Trace" is a historic corridor once used by the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians for traveling around the region. Later it was used by many different groups to navigate the difficult terrain. Today, the Natchez Trace Parkways is a 440-mile stretch of scenic drive that runs through Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee that marks the history of the region. Other leisure activities along the parkway include camping, fishing, hiking, enjoying nature. Popular stretches of the Parkway include Natchez to Jackson, Jackson to Tupelo, and Tupelo to Tennessee and beyond.

The Parkway Visitor Center can be found at milepost 266 and is the main Visitor Center of the Parkway. Several other centers are scattered along the Parkway as well. Check here for a complete list.

Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail - AL, MS, TN

Five distinct trails make of the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail and are administered by the Natchez Trace Parkway. These sixty miles of trail help visitors relive what it was like to travel the trail by foot and to promote the beauty of the region. The trails are the Potkopinu, Rocky Springs, Yockanookany, Blackland Prairie, and the Highland Rim. The Parkway and trails are free to visit. For trail maps and more information, click here.

Obed Wild and Scenic River

The Obed Wild and Scenic River flows through the Cumberland Plateau of East Tennessee. The Obed along with its two main tributaries - Clear Creek and Daddys Creek - have just over 45 miles of either wild or recreational waters that are popular for whitewater seekers and casual visitors alike.  Besides paddling, other popular activities in the area are rock climbing, hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. The Obed Wild & Scenic River is designated as an International Dark Sky Park and is a popular place for stargazing.

The Obed Wild and Scenic River Visitor Center is located in Wartburg, TN.

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail - NC, SC, TN, VA

The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail marks the route taken through North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia during the American Revolutionary War that American patriot soldiers utilized during the Kings Mountain campaign of 1780. It stretches for 330 miles and includes both an auto route and 87 miles of walking paths and trail.

Throughout the year, the Overmountain Victory Trail Association organizes events and activities celebrating the pivotal victory at Kings Mountain. Read more about the Trail here.

Parker's Crossroads Battlefield

Parker's Crossroads Battlefield is part of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and interprets the story of this battle of the American Civil War that occurred in December 1862. The Confederate Army led by Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest was attempting to pull back across the Tennessee River but was headed off by Unions forces led by Brig. Gen. Jeremiah C. Sullivan and Cols. Cyrus L. Dunham and John W. Fuller. Both sides claimed victory, but Forrest was able to successfully lead his troops to safety.

Today, visitors can explore the battlefield and Visitor Center that now encompass about 350 acres. Special events are also scheduled throughout the year.

Shiloh National Military Park - TN, MS

Shiloh National Military Park encompasses several sites and monuments throughout the area including Shiloh Battlefield, Shiloh National Cemetery, Shiloh Indian Mounds, Corinth Battlefield, and the Davis Bridge Battlefield. Visitors to the sites can tour the battlefields with a self-guided auto tour program, hop on a Ranger-led tour, visit the museums and interpretive centers, and also pay their respects at the National Cemetery that marks the graves of 4,000 soldiers. The Indian Mounds are what remains of a Native American town that existed about 800 years ago.

Stones River National Battlefield

The Battle of Stones River was one of the bloodiest of the American Civil War. After delivering the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln was looking for a victory to boost moral and turn the tide on an otherwise bleak outlook for the Country. This battle for middle Tennessee and its fertile farmland was important for both sides.

The Union ultimately prevailed but at great cost. President Lincoln remarked afterward, “I can never forget, if I remember anything, that at the end of last year and the beginning of this, you gave us a hard earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the country scarcely could have lived over.”

Visitors to the Battlefield can view The Hazen Brigade Monument - the oldest intact Civil War monument in the nation along with the Stones Battlefield National Cemetery and Fortress Rosecrans built after the battle. Hiking, tours, and Ranger programs are also available.

Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area

The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area is a partner of the National Park Service along with several local and state organizations to help develop programs and tell the stories surrounding the American Civil War including battles and Reconstruction. The Heritage Area includes touring routes, marked corridors, battlefields, museums, interpretive centers, and Civil War Trails. The Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County serves as the headquarters and is where you can find more information along with exhibits and resources.

Read more here about the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail - AL, AR, GA, IL, KY, MO, NC, OK, TN

The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates the forceful removal of the Cherokees from their homes in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. States participating the the Trail are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. More than 16,000 Cherokee were relocated between 1838 and 1839, and the trail documents their stories of suffering, illness, and death, but also preserves their routes and important sites along the Trail.