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  1. Default Trip from Lufkin, TX to Gatlinburg, TN in May 2016

    Best route and/or scenic route from Lufkin to Gatlinburg taking 2 overnight stays along the way before getting there and 2 overnight stays along the way returning to Lufkin. We are older and want it divided into thirds getting there and returning. We need to stop a lot for bathroom, gas, and food breaks. Any and all suggestions for safe places to stay and moderately priced dining will be greatly appreciated. Feel free to suggest any interesting places to stop and visit along the way that are not terribly time consuming.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    At just under 900 miles, three days would have you driving about 300 miles each day -- 6 to 7 hours on a freeway. Here at RTA, we really don't do "best" routes since one person's "best" is another person's "nightmare". Would you prefer two-lane highways, or interstates? It would be easy to go up one route and come home via a different route.

    As for safe places to stay, we always like staying in smaller towns rather than the larger cities. Most of the times they are less expensive. If you drive up to a motel and want to take a look at a room, you can do that - check the lock systems and the smoke alarms. (If they are AAA certified, they have to have these anyway.)

    Moderately priced dining: for dinner, most of the time, we ask the clerk at the motel "what's good around here that isn't too expensive", or "where would you go with your family if you wanted to go out to eat?" Sometimes they will refer you to the chain next door, so you can be specific that you'd like something more local.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Taking the Long Way, There and Home

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Having plenty of time and wanting to stop often both argue for using Interstates sparingly. Although there are usually rest areas along them, those tend to be spaced out half an hour to an hour apart. Most exits will have a convenience store or fast food joint or gas station with a rest room, but you often don't know what you will find or the cleanliness of the facilities until you're committed to using them. Fortunately, the South is full of great alternatives to the Interstates. Enough so that you should really plan on using two different routes going and returning. So I'll suggest a couple of routes and you can take either one in either direction., our plan your own routes based on your own preferences.

    Starting from Lufkin, one route would start out taking US-59 up to Greenwood LA and then US-80 and/or I-20 (they run parallel to each other) east towards Jackson MS. There you'd take the Natchez Trace Parkway north up into Tennessee and US-64 east. Just after Fayetteville TN you'd take TN-50/TN-55 north through Lynchburg and on to McMinnville. From there I-40, US-70, and TN-1 all follow basically the same route eastward (often sharing the same roadbed) to the Knoxville area where US-441 will take you the rest of the way to Gatlinburg. Two relatively evenly spaced overnight stops would be Jackson MS and Florence AL. Both are fair sized cities with a good range of lodging options, although Florence is actually, just a bit off the Natchez Trace. Some of the interesting places to stop on or near this route include Vicksburg National Military Park, Gibsland LA where Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down and there are a couple of museums devoted to that event, Elvis' birthplace in Tupelo MS, Shiloh National Military Park, and President Polk's home in Columbia TN.

    The other route would leave Lufkin on US-69 south to Zavalla and TX-63 east past Jasper and on into Louisiana where it becomes LA-8. East of Leesville switch over to LA-28 through Alexandria and on to US-84 east, crossing the Mississippi at Natchez and going on to Laurel MS. From there you have another case where there are Interstates (I-59/I-20/I-75/I-40) and US Highways (US-11) running parallel up through Birmingham AL and Chattanooga TN all the way to Knoxville TN where, again, US-441 will take you to Gatlinburg. All those Interstates mean that you can drive this route in a bit less time if you choose to use them. Two good overnight stops would be Meadville/Bude MS and Gadsden AL. Again those should afford you several options. Attractions you might want to consider along this route include Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge, the town of Natchez, the Jimmie Rodgers Museum in Meridian MS, Noccalula Falls in Gadsden AL, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, and Lost Sea (an underground lake) outside Sweetwater TN.

    As far as restaurants go, I love to drive into relatively small cities or towns (populations of a few thousands) and check their downtowns for local diners. These are places that rely on repeat business and so have to offer good food at reasonable prices. They're also good places to listen to the local patois, get info on any local events, and generally just get a feel for the area you're traveling through.


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