The 10 Best State Parks in Alabama

Sunset At Cheaha Overlook 1
JimVallee / Getty Images

From the sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Alabama's 21 state parks deliver dramatic landscapes, natural beauty, and recreational activities ranging from hiking to boating, golfing, and swimming. Parasailing along the beach, touring centuries-old caves, and hiking to the state's highest peak are some of the adventures that await visitors at the best state parks in Alabama, all of which offer overnight accommodations.

01 of 10

Gulf State Park

Gulf State Park, Alabama
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Located on 6,150 acres along the Gulf of Mexico, this public recreation area includes a beachfront with 2 miles of sugary sand as well as three freshwater lakes. From hiking and cycling along 28 miles of backcountry trails, kayaking and zip-lining at the Gulf Adventure Center, swimming and paddle-boarding at Lake Shelby, and parasailing along the beach, this is a great spot for those seeking an active vacation. The area also offers Segway tours and has several restaurants and shops for pit stops between adventures or purchasing a souvenir. Overnight options range from rustic lakeside cottages and cabins to a modern RV campground with all the amenities to primitive campsites off the beaten path.

20115 State Park Rd, Gulf Shores, AL 36542, USA
Phone +1 251-948-7275
02 of 10

DeSoto State Park

DeSoto Falls
Kyle Allingham / Getty Images

Nestled on Lookout Mountain in the state's northeastern border, this 3,502-acre preserve is known for its towering hardwood forests and rushing waterfalls. Hike 30-plus miles of trails that wind through dense woodlands with views of colorful wildflowers, tumbling waterfalls, and local wildlife. Don't miss the views at Talmadge Butler Boardwalk that ends at Azalea Cascade, especially in spring and fall. The park also has 11 miles of dedicated mountain biking trails, horseback riding, zip-lining, aerial adventures, fly fishing, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool as well as campsites and rental cabins.

7104 Desoto Pkwy NE, Fort Payne, AL 35967-7909, USA
Phone +1 256-845-0051
03 of 10

Oak Mountain State Park

Peavine Falls at Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham, Alabama, USA
SergeYatunin / Getty Images

At nearly 10,000 acres, Oak Mountain is the state's largest park and offers a variety of activities all in one place. Hike or cycle on more than 50 miles of trails, including the 4.2-mile Kings Chair Loop, which offers stunning mountain vistas year-round, and the Green and White Trail Loop, which leads to the dramatic Peavine Falls. Go for a swim or soak up the sun on two lakeside beaches, fish for largemouth bass and catfish, or paddle through the calm water via kayak or boat. The park also has a BMX course, cable skiing, horseback riding facilities, basketballs courts, a wildlife center, and an 18-hole golf course with driving range.

200 Terrace Dr, Pelham, AL 35124, USA
Phone +1 205-620-2520
04 of 10

Cathedral Caverns State Park

Cathedral Caverns
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Its name derived from the underground caverns' resemblance to a cathedral, this park just 100 miles north of Birmingham is situated on 493 acres of woodlands. Cool off on a hot Alabama day with a 90-minute guided tour of the caverns, which are illuminated by LEDs and maintain a constant temperature of 60 degrees F. The 0.75-mile trip is easy and offers a close-up of cavern features, including Goliath, which at 45 feet tall and 243 feet wide is one of the world's largest stalagmites. The park also offers gem mining, 5 miles of hiking trails, and RV and primitive campsites.

637 Cave Rd, Woodville, AL 35776-8700, USA
Phone +1 256-728-8193
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05 of 10

Lake Guntersville State Park

Lake Guntersville State Park

Courtesy of Lake Guntersville State Park

With lakeside beaches to mountaintop summits, the sprawling 6,000-acre Lake Guntersville Park is the best of both worlds. The 36 miles of hiking trails wind range from beginner-friendly to strenuous and wind along the river and lake shores and through dense forests dotted with leafy ferns and blankets of wildflowers. Stay at the park lodge, which has 112 scenic rooms as well as a mountaintop pool, fine dining restaurant, and golf course. There's also a lakefront campground with cabins, chalets, and RV hook-ups.

1155 Lodge Dr, Guntersville, AL 35976, USA
Phone +1 256-571-5440
06 of 10

Cheaha State Park

Sunset At Cheaha Overlook 4
JimVallee / Getty Images

For some of the state's best summit views, head to this park adjacent to the Talladega National Forest. Alabama's oldest operating park, Cheaha is home to the state's highest peak and encompasses 2,799 acres of majestic forest. The best overlooks are at Bunker Tower, a stone building built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the accessible wooden path at Bald Rock Trail. Connect into the storied Appalachian trail via the Pinhoti Trail system and swim, fish, or paddle in the 6-acre Cheaha Lake during the summer season. The park has a 30-room hotel as well as campsites and cabins.

19644 AL-281, Delta, AL 36258-8702, USA
Phone +1 256-488-5111
07 of 10

Meaher State Park

Boating in Meaher State Park in Alabama
mrolands / Getty Images

Just 8 miles from downtown Mobile, this picturesque, 1,327-acre park is comprised of wetlands surrounding north Mobile Bay, part of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta—the second largest in the contiguous United States. Start your visit at the 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center with exhibits chronicling the area's 250,000 acres of scenic waterways, woods, and wetlands. The park has a 300-foot fishing pier as well as two ramp access points for boating, kayaking, and other water activities. Spot red-tailed hawks, pine warbler, blue grosbeaks, and other species along the Coastal Alabama Birding Trail, or take a short stroll along the boardwalk. Stay overnight in one of two furnished cabins, primitive campsites, or the 61-site campground with a climate-controlled shower house and laundry facilities.

5200 Battleship Pkwy, Spanish Fort, AL 36527, USA
Phone +1 251-626-5529
08 of 10

Wind Creek State Park

Wind Creek State Park

Courtesy of Travel Alabama

Nestled along the shores of Lake Martin—a 41,500-acre reservoir surrounded by hardwood forest—Wind Creek State Park is a water lover's paradise. Fish for crappie, striped bass, and other species in the massive lake; rent a boat or kayak to float through the calm waters; or swim off the beach, which is also equipped with grills and picnic tables. Other highlights include hiking and horseback riding trails, an archery range, zipline canopy tours, and a putt-putt course. Stay the night at the 586-site campground, one of the largest in the state's park system, with options ranging from waterfront cabins to shady RV and tent sites.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Lakepoint State Park

View of a lake with marshy grasses

David Dugan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Situated on the banks of Lake Eufaula, known as "The Bass Capital of the World," this park hosts nearly 100 fishing tournaments annually and has a full-service marina with boat rentals, slips, bait, and other supplies. If angling isn't your thing, there's plenty in the 1,220-acre park to keep you occupied: a saltwater pool, tennis courts, playgrounds, hiking and nature trails, geocaching, a wildlife refuge, and three on-site restaurants. Accommodations include a lodge, which has 101 fully furnished guest rooms, plus cabins, and a 192-site campground with amenities like hookups, a bathhouse, laundry facilities, and a community building available for functions like family reunions and birthday parties.

104 Old Hwy 165, Eufaula, AL 36027-4612, USA
Phone +1 334-687-8011
10 of 10

Joe Wheeler State Park

Joe Wheeler State Park Lodge

Courtesy of Travel Alabama

One of North Alabama's gems, Joe Wheeler State Park is bisected by the mighty Tennessee River and offers water and land-based activities for visitors. The massive, 69,700-acre Wheeler Lake is popular for fishing, sailing, boating, water skiing, and more, and overnight docking and rentals are available at the marina. Traverse through wetlands and woodlands via a network of well-maintained hiking and cycling trails, play a round at the 18-hole golf course, or settle in for a day of sunning and swimming along the beach. The park also has a picnic area with grills, tennis and basketball courts, a disc golf course, a playground, and ground pavilions. For a splurge, stay at the Resort Lodge, which offers lakeside views, balconies, and a swimming pool. A quiet campground, as well as cottages, cabins, and primitive sites, are also available for overnight visitors.

4403 McLean Dr, Rogersville, AL 35652, USA
Phone +1 256-247-5466
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The 10 Best State Parks in Alabama