Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Tennessee Travel: Escape to Loretta Lynn’s Ranch

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A big goal for 2016 was exploring more of Tennessee. One of the main reasons was because I signed on to be a writer for Tennessee Tourism for the year, but it also boils down to the fact that there are so many incredible parts I’ve yet to explore—such as the bulk of the 56 state parks. Despite being born and having lived in the Volunteer State for more than 20 years, I often feel like I’ve just scratched the surface.

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

But life happened (see: my dad’s stroke) and work has pulled me away as always—in the last month alone, I was in Florida twice, South Dakota and Utah, in addition to California and Memphis to see family—plus, there’s the little issue of that massive project house that takes nearly every spare second of our lives. Add it all up and I haven’t had nearly as much time to get out as I had hoped.

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Still, there have been brief spells where I’ve been home and had the opportunity to explore new-to-me spots, such as Humphreys County, where I found myself one brisk but sunny day for a last-minute assignment a couple months back.

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

While I’ve technically been through the county before, it’s been years: My extended family used to have one big reunion every other summer nearby in Paris Landing, so the territory wasn’t completely unfamiliar. Still, there were plenty of spots like Johnsonville State Historic Park that I knew nothing about.

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

My day at the park began with lunch at the grille before setting out by car to explore Johnsonville’s domain, plus learn more about its storied Civil War history.

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More
Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Spanning 2,000 acres, the day-use park is full of trails—10 miles’ worth—and picnic areas, not to mention water sports galore. According to the website, the Johnsonville Depot was attacked by Confederate forces under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest in 1864. It got its name from Andrew Johnson, former U.S. president who served as the Union Military Governor of Tennessee during the Civil War, and there are “Period Pastimes” (aka historical reenactments) that take place around the cabins throughout the year.

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

It’s also really, really gorgeous and one of Tennessee’s more underrated spots.

From New Johnsonville, my guide (and new friend) Karin drove me to the area’s main attraction—and the whole reason I came in the first place—Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. The Kentucky-born songbird made Hurricane Mills her home more than 30 years ago and raised all her children here. What a fantastic place to grow up, right?

ennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More
Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

In the early 1980’s, she opened her 3,500-acre property as a campground for travelers. The decades that followed saw a number of additions, like full RV hook-ups, a cantina, a store, a museum and a Western Town, and today it’s one of the most popular family travel destinations in Tennessee.

http://tnstateparks.com/parks/events/johnsonville

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More
Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

I can see why: The property is massive—plenty of room to explore with the kids, whether in a canoe, on horseback, in an ATV or by foot—and the ranch offers no shortage of special events, such as this weekend’s concert with Loretta herself (she performs on the Saturday of Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day weekends each year).

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

The town of Waverly, the county seat, about 15 minutes up the road is equally adorable. The chamber headquarters occupy what was once a Greyhound station; on one side was the white part, which had the bathroom, while the other side was for the black residents, which had a restaurant. (Side note: I can’t imagine having grown up in such an era.) It’s worth stopping by to marvel at the architecture of the curved building, as well as pick up maps to the area.

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Across the street is downtown Waverly. The town has just 13,000 residents, but about as cute a little Main Street stretch as I’ve seen. There are a number of restaurants, cafes, independent shops and even a sweet, old-fashioned movie theatre, the MI-DE-GA.

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More
Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More
Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

My day in Humphreys County was the perfect break from my home office and a lovely introduction to a town I previously knew very little about.

I’ve been back in the South for five years now and am constantly in awe of the charming towns that seem to pepper every corner of this state. I hope that feeling never changes.
Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Tennessee Travel: Exploring Humphreys County, Loretta Lynn's Ranch and More

Want to come along with me on my travels? See all the behind-the-scenes on Snapchat: LunaticAtLarge (no spaces).
COMMENTS
  • May 28, 2016

    This looks really pretty

  • May 29, 2016

    Places like that make me a bit sad in that I picture we’re history someday too. All melancholy thoughts aside the place looks beautiful 🙂

  • May 31, 2016

    This place looks beautiful. It has its history but is still beautiful and worth a visit.

  • May 31, 2016

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  • May 31, 2016

    Tennessee certainly takes the breath away. Looks like a very colorful city.

  • June 2, 2016

    I’m used to less organized ranches than this you have presented. But well, this one if for tourism, so no surprise there. Still, a nice place to spend the weekend out of big towns.

  • June 2, 2016

    Lovely photos, as always!

    Funny, one of my goals for this year is to explore my own state of Illinois (hoping it’s my last year here!) I think a key to this is getting off the interstate – I took a 6 hour drive on 2-lane highways and fell in love with every small town along the way!

  • November 7, 2016

    It is good to see such ranches and country side. If you are willing to see the nature in its real form, do visit Nepal with Exciting Nepal.

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