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Best scenic route Chicago to Nashville in an RV in May?

Tampa, Florida
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Best scenic route Chicago to Nashville in an RV in May?

Our plan so far is to take I-65 through Indianapolis and Louisville to reach Nashville. Is there a more scenic route that we can manage in a 25-foot RV? We are interested in the countryside mainly, as well as short stops into the cities.

Chula Vista...
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1. Re: Best scenic route Chicago to Nashville in an RV in May?

Hi and welcome to the forum,

You may want to consider a route like this:

http://goo.gl/maps/VqUM0

From Chicago, head south to the Shawnee National Forest:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee

And then over to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area:

http://www.lbl.org/

On your return from Nashville, you can head up through the Hoosier National Forest and Patoka Lake:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/hoosier

http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2953.htm

http://www.patokalakeindiana.com/

And then into Brown County with the Brown County State Park and Nashville, IN:

http://www.browncounty.com/

And then up to Turkey Run State Park:

http://www.turkeyrunstatepark.com/

You don't say how much time you have for your trip there and back, so those options may not work depending on your schedule. Hope that helped.

Zed

Tampa, Florida
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2. Re: Best scenic route Chicago to Nashville in an RV in May?

Thanks very much for these suggested highlights. We are only headed one-way southbound, but will definitely check out each of these options in our planning. Also, great that you included the links to each one. Thanks again! Only hope the snow melts by May.

Chula Vista...
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3. Re: Best scenic route Chicago to Nashville in an RV in May?

Hi amblinalong,

If that's the case--a one-way trip--I would probably be more inclined to go through Indiana--Turkey Run, Brown County, Hoosier National Forest--than down through Illinois on I-57.

In Illinois it's pretty flat and wide open until you get to the southern part of the state; Indiana is also pretty flat and wide open (especially north), but has more pockets of interesting scenery along the way.

Indianapolis is a great city, but the downtown area would be tough to navigate in a 25' motor home. Also, keep in mind all the activities that precede the Indy 500 race (for about 2 weeks in advance of the race on Memorial Day weekend). It may make getting reservations a little more challenging.

Columbus, IN is a nice little town known for its architecture, much of it designed by world class architects like I.M. Pei. Just south of Columbus is Edinburgh, IN with its Premium Outlet Mall.

Now that I think about it, it may be a good jumping off point for the scenic part of your trip. Take I-65 to Columbus, and then IN 46 west towards Brown County and Nashville, IN, and then head south past Lake Monroe and Patoka Lake into Kentucky.

One last thought... The Indiana University campus at Bloomington is quite scenic and may be of interest to you as well.

Enjoy.

Zed

Tampa, Florida
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4. Re: Best scenic route Chicago to Nashville in an RV in May?

Thank you AGAIN! My mistake...we are headed all the way to Nashville, TN. But, your ideas are JUST the ticket! We're heading out in early May, so race-week activities in Indy won't bother us.

Bloomington, Indiana
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5. Re: Best scenic route Chicago to Nashville in an RV in May?

In addition to Zed's suggestions (and I would second Columbus if architecture has an interest for you) here's another couple of things you might add if you do head through southern Indiana:

1. French Lick/West Baden - couple of restored hotel. One of them (the "Dome") was build circa 1905 and was the largest free-span enclosed space in the US (world?) until the Houston Astrodome was built in the 1960s.

2. Pioneer Mother's State (forest?) - Just south of Paoli, Indiana - largest stand of virgin forest in Indiana. Gives you an idea of what it was like, believe me "woods" doesn't equal "woods."

Beyond that you might check out the Bloomington (Indiana) forum, I'm certain there are a few threads there that discuss many of the things that Southern Indiana has to offer.

hlo

Chula Vista...
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6. Re: Best scenic route Chicago to Nashville in an RV in May?

Hi Amblinalong,

I knew there would be confusion when I threw in Nashville, IN... :-) Yes, I figured out at the beginning that you were headed to Tennessee, but just thought I'd offer up the other one in Indiana as well.

If you're into bluegrass music, there's the little town of Bean Blossom with Bill Monroe Music Park:

http://www.billmonroemusicpark.com/

I agree with HLO's recommendation for French Lick... Very interesting.

If you're in Louisville, stop for the Kentucky Derby the first weekend in May (the 4th).

http://www.kentuckyderby.com/

Finally, as you transit through Kentucky, don't forget about Mammoth Cave or, if you want a little history nearby, Lincoln's Birthplace.

http://www.nps.gov/maca/index.htm

http://www.nps.gov/abli/index.htm

Just more things to consider for your trip... :-)

Zed

Marina, California
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7. Re: Best scenic route Chicago to Nashville in an RV in May?

Rockville, west of Indianapolis on US 36, may be of interest to you. The town is typical of Indiana small towns, with its iconic town square ringed by Germanic architecture, but it is locally famous for its covered bridges and annual maple syrup festival. Additionally, Turkey Run State Park would be very much worth your time.

As a scenic alternative to I-65, which is an awful drive, consider US 231 to Owensboro and the Natcher Parkway to I-65 as an alternatve. This is the route I typically use to reach Nashville. It is actually less mileage and is tremendously more scenic and pleasant than I-65. The stretch from Lafayette to Loogootee is actually very nice as it follows a ridge that denotes a hillier part of Indiana (north of Lafayette is unbelievably flat).

Hope that helps.

8. Re: Best scenic route Chicago to Nashville in an RV in May?

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