where the Grand Ole Opry began in 1943

Where the Grand Ole Opry began in 1943

In Tennessee, there is just about as much to explore under the ground as there is above it. The Volunteer State is home to more than 8,500 caves -more than any other state.

One Tennessean who made good use of those caves was Jack Daniel, who used pure, iron-free cave water chilled by nature to a constant 56 degrees to make his finest “Tennessee sippin’ whiskey.” When you visit the Jack Daniel Distillery No 1 in Lynchburg, you will find a statue of the man himself standing watch over his treasured cave spring. Any Jack Daniel’s whiskey you take home will have to age a bit longer before consumption, however, since the distillery is in a dry county.

Even without spelunking gear, you can explore Tennessee underground in more than two dozen caves. That includes Appalachian Caverns that served as a hospital during the Civil War and the Lost Sea in Sweetwater where tours are by boat on America’s largest underground lake.

Above ground, most Tennessee RV trips will eventually roll into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most-visited national park in the land. Perched on the doorstep of the atmospheric mountains are the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge and the town of Gatlinburg. Tennessee RV parks gear up around holiday time for the Annual Pigeon Forge Winterfest in East Tennessee, the Trolley Tour of Lights, and the World’s Largest Outlet Extravaganza topping the crowded list of activities.

Music still draws visitors to Tennessee from wherever an RV radio picks up a signal. In Memphis, it is Elvis Presley’s Graceland and along Beale Street where the Mississippi River town introduced the blues to clubs in Chicago and New Orleans. Nashville calls itself Music City thanks to the Ryman Auditorium that started broadcasting the Grand Ole Opry in 1943. It was a shoestring operation that spawned Music Row back then; today, just a few blocks away, it took $37 million to open the Country Music Hall of Fame.

And don’t miss out on the traditional picking in the festivals and concerts held across the eastern mountains. Or in the rolling hills around Sparta where bluegrass is the genre of choice, pioneered by hometown legend Lester Flatts and his partner Earl Scruggs. Almost any Good Sam RV park you settle in across the Volunteer State will be alive with the sounds of Tennessee.

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