Meriwether Lewis Park, Campground & Monument
The Natchez Trace Lewis Site wayside stop has double historical significance. You can walk a portion of the original Old Natchez Trace that runs through the park and intersects with the parks network of hiking trails. And you can see explorer Meriwether Lewis’ gravesite and a replica of the Inn where he died of mysterious circumstances.
Lewis traveled on a portion of the Trace on his way to Washington DC to defend himself against charges of improper expenditures. On October 10th he stayed overnight at Grinders Stand, a wayside inn on the Trace trail. During the night gunshots were heard and Lewis was found dead of gunshot wounds. Some reports allege he died at his own hand; others suggest he was murdered.
Lewis is buried about 200 yards from the old inn and along the original Trace. In 1848 the state of Tennessee erected a monument over the grave site. Some exhibits accompany the replica of Grinders Stand built on the site of the original. Exhibits tell the story of that evening, plus other significant aspects of Lewis’ history. See MLewis-Site-Bulletin
There is a four mile loop hiking trail that starts at the Lewis grave site and eventually runs along Little Swan Creek where it intersects with the Old Natchez Trace foot trail. A few other spur trails criss-cross this network. We found walking on the Old Trace trail fairly easy to follow from the grave site to one of the picnic grounds in the park. But based on reports I’ve read some other portions of the hiking trail are less well-traveled and more difficult to follow.
Of the three drive-in campgrounds along the Trace, Meriwether Lewis is the largest and most improved. The bathroom building is clean, heated, well lighted with sinks and toilets (not vault toilets). The campground roads and sites are fully paved and the sites are quite level. There’s also a well pump faucet for adding water to your RV. No dump site nor electric service. But otherwise a very well maintained campground with an attractive camping fee – $0.0!
During peak travel times, you may have trouble finding a vacant camping site as this is a popular stop along the Trace. David Crockett State Park is not too far away and would be an option for those camping or RVing. Here’s a link to other campgrounds on or near the Trace Parkway.
Natchez Trace Links & Publications
Our blog post on the history of the Trace
Our blog post on favorite milepost exhibits & wayside stops along the Traceby