There's no shortage of state parks to visit in Alabama. The Heart of Dixie is home to 22 state parks that are spread throughout the southern state. Each park offers many traditional activities from hiking, picnics, and educational activities to fishing, boating, and overnight camping trips. Visitors of all ages can also enjoy one of the dozens of events such as exclusive, educational hikes that take place at each park throughout the year. Here are some of the state parks in Alabama to visit.
Gulf State Park gives visitors the best of both worlds. With 3.5 miles of pristine, white sand beaches there's plenty of fun activities in the sun for all ages. Later in the day, take a break from the sun. Not far from the shore visitors can eat a picnic lunch or grill dinner on one of the charcoal grills. Visitors looking to make it more than a day trip can rent a cabin, bring an RV, or reserve a campsite for one or more nights. Don't forget to bring the family dog. Gulf State Park has a special place for dogs at the lakeside dog park.
The Cathedral Caverns State Park in the northern tip of the state draws visitors from across the country to view the cathedral-like caves. Unlike other, more traditional state parks, this one offers more unique activities. Here, guests start their adventure at the massive, 26-foot tall, 126-foot wide cave entrance. After the tour, head over to the gem mining to learn the art of panning for gems. But, the fun doesn't end there. The park is also home to more than 400 acres that are open for hiking and camping.
With nearly 700 acres, Chewacla State Park in Auburn has plenty of activities for children and adults of all ages. Visit for the day and enjoy a refreshing swim in the 26-acre lake. After a long day of swimming, hiking, and biking, bring your cooler to the picnic area, relax, and enjoy a meal. The fun extends beyond the water with hiking and mountain biking trails. Chewacla State Park has multiple camping options from RV and tent sites to cabin rentals.
Desoto State Park in Fort Payne provides amazing views, beautiful wildflowers, lush green hiking trails in the spring and summer as well as stunning colors in the fall. For the best views, the autumn colors peak from late October to early November most seasons. The 3,502-acre park has spectacular waterfalls and sandstone formations. Visitors have more than a dozen activity options at Desoto State Park. Explore more than 30 miles of hiking trails on foot, or bring a bike for the 11+ mountain biking trails. Guests looking for more leisurely activities can enjoy a refreshing swim in the Olympic-size during the summer season.
The Joe Wheeler State Park isn't a typical state park. Nestled between the Tennessee River and Wheeler Lake, the 2,550-acre resort provides a more luxurious experience. Guests can enjoy:
Traditional activities are also available. Visitors can spend time on the beach or go swimming in the 69,700-acre lake. Guests that want to stay longer can also reserve a spot in the campground, one of the lakeside cottages, or the cabins in Wheeler Dam Village that runs along the south side of the Tennessee River.
The Monte Sano State Park gives visitors gorgeous views year-round, fresh air, mineral springs, and an overall relaxing, peaceful location. Monte Sano means "Mountain of Health" in Spanish. Stay for the day and explore 22 miles of hiking and biking trails. The park also has campsites and cabins visitors can reserve.
Oak Mountain State Park is the second largest state in Alabama with 9,940 acres. Guests can split the day doing multiple activities such as exploring more than 50 miles of mountain biking trails. For visitors looking for different modes of travel, it offers horseback riding facilities, waterskiing, and boat rentals. Guests that want to keep their feet on the ground can enjoy fishing, basketball, swimming, or the driving range. Cabin rentals, camping sites, and RV areas are also available for extended stays.
Rickwood Caverns State Park is another attraction in Alabama that brings guests into a massive cave to experience 260-million-year-old formations carved by water. The underground location maintains a constant 58-62 degrees year-round. After exploring the land 150 miles below the surface, check out the gem mining and experience panning for gems. Visitors can stick around and make a day or more out of the park with swimming, a picnic area, and camping sites.
Lake Guntersville State Park is another unique location that gives visitors luxurious accommodations and a variety of activities. Play a round of golf at Eagle's Nest, spend the day in the beach complex, or catching fish in the 69,1000 acres Lake Guntersville. Away from the water, the park has more than 38-miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
Blue Springs State Park is a hidden gem in Alabama. A great place to cool off on a hot summer day, the park features two swimming areas that are filled from natural springs. The 68-degree water is crystal clear and has a sandy bottom. The park also features a small fishing pond, birding trails, a picnic area, and playground.