Getting to see all of the splendor and beauty of Alabama’s whopping 21 state parks is a dream come true for outdoor lovers. The state parks across this southern state boast a variety of landscapes that take your breath away, right from mountain tops to caverns and natural springs. The forests are swathed in a sea of red, orange, and yellows during autumn, making for dreamy backdrops for Insta-worthy clicks. What’s more, these state parks feature numerous activities to please all sorts of outdoors lovers; fishing, hiking, boating, and even camping! The best Alabama state parks for camping offer you a chance to stay in the lap of nature, making for a great escape from hectic and fast-paced city life. Additionally, you can camp throughout the year here, thanks to hot, sun-kissed summers and mild winters. Well, at least milder than compared to other colder states!
Furthermore, you even get to experience the state’s Gulf Coastline and wilderness. Add to that delicious southern cooking in the towns along the way, and it’s no wonder why state parks feature prominently on the list of Best Places To Visit In Alabama. To that end, here are the 11 best Alabama state parks for camping.
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Joe Wheeler State Park
Joe Wheeler State Park is one of the best Alabama state parks for camping. The fabulous state park lies between Huntsville and Florence on 2,400 acres along the Tennessee River, around 2 hours south of Nashville.
The resort-style spacious and tranquil state park is for those who love their luxuries and boasts cottages right by the lake with a beach and stunning views. Three loops, each with wonderful waterside sites, have lots of space, three hot showers, and their own clean bathhouse. The best sites in Section A are 24 through 26, while the best in section B are 26 through 28 and 24, 22, 20, and 17. However, the absolute best is Section C’s site 9 – it’s right on the water. What’s more, 110 of their total 116 campsites (both primitive and RVers) have access to electricity, sewage, running water, and even picnic tables and grills. Are you a large group? You might want to check out the Best Camping Dutch Ovens. Plus, there’s even a lakeside restaurant, which means all you really need to carry to this place is Best Fun Games for Camping!
There’s no shortage of activities to do here. The portion of the Tennessee River has cream, bass, and catfish in its waters. So, it’s perfect for fishing, swimming, and lakeside picnics. Thanks to the marina, which is one of the state’s finest, you can even go boating. Miles of well-maintained hiking trails make this place a favorite during both summers. During winters, there are lantern walks and caroling! But, what you’ll love most are breathtaking views of the Tennessee River and the fauna across the flat landscapes. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; this place is a must-camp!
Oak Mountain State Park
Located just south of Birmingham, the 940-acre-huge Oak Mountain State Park is the state’s largest park and also one of its most visited ones. Those who love the outdoors will love this park; think mountain views, pristine lakes, and hikes ending on a stunning note.
However, what’s really enthralling is the sheer number and variety of outdoor activities offered here. Water bums, for instance, can go swimming, fishing, and even boating. The park has more than 50 miles of hiking trails and two tracks for BMX mountain bike riding. Furthermore, there’s even a championship 18-hole golf course here! Furthermore, the park is fabulous to see wildlife, especially bird watching and a demonstration farm. Besides all of the above, there’s also a basketball court, horseback riding, a cool, new elevated Tree Top Nature Trail, and even an archery park. Phew!
But, what you’ll love here is the year-round camping, which is nestled in a cul-de-sac along Beaver Lake and surrounded by rolling Longleaf Pine forests. Choose from 57 RV sites, of which 27 have electricity and water while the rest have sewage too. What’s more, there are 60 primitive tenting walk-on sites too, all with water and 6 of them even with electricity. Moreover, campground amenities abound, right from 7 bathhouses and coin-operated laundry to fire rings and picnic tables at each site. Weekends require a 2-night reservation, while major holidays between March and October require a 3-night reservation. Are you here during winter? Check out the Best Winter Camping Tents.
The best bit? Dogs are allowed here! However, they need to be on a 6-feet-long leash, quiet after hours, and are to be cleaned up after. Check out some of the Best Camping Dog Tie Outs and Best Camping Dog Beds.
Gulf State Park
One of the most popular and best Alabama state parks for camping is Gulf State Park, which is why it requires reservations in advance no matter when you go! Even with 496 improved campsites, it’s difficult to snag a reservation here due to its enviable location overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
Located an hour from Mobile and Pensacola both, this 6150-acre-huge park lies just 1.5 miles from the turquoise waters and pristine, white-sand beaches. What’s more, there are superb hiking trails at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, biking and walking on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, and even nightlife and restaurants. There’s even a beach pavilion that’s popular with weddings and an educational pier on the beach that provides interpretive programs. The park has plenty of picnic places, and for larger groups, the Beach Pavilion is a popular place for family reunions and beach weddings. Now, who wouldn’t want to camp here?
Aside from some of the primitive camping sites in Alabama, you’ll also find lakeside cabins, cottages, and even a modern RV campground. Those who’re driving their RV to the Gulf might want to check out the Best Accessories for RV Camping. Coming to the amenities, the campground has 11 air-conditioned bathhouses, laundry facilities, and even tennis courts and a swimming pool! Pro tip: The best campsites on Middle Lake are 11 through 37 and the even numbers between 220 and 226. Plus, those between 469 and 496 sit along a Boat Canal, providing amazing views. Even winter at the beach is a thing here! Since beach camping is a highlight here, you might want to Best Beach Pop Up Canopy Tents.
Cathedral Caverns State Park
Measuring 461 acres, Cathedral Caverns State Park is nothing less than a subterranean wonderland and is one of Alabama’s coolest state parks. It was formerly called Bat Cave when it opened in the 1950s, being renamed because of its cathedral-like appearance when it became a state park in the summer of 2000.
Located in Woodville, around half an hour from Hunstville, the main highlight of this park is the huge caverns and their amazing geology. Measuring 25 feet high and a massive 125 feet wide, it’s one of the largest commercial cave openings in the world! Traversing a distance of 3/4th mile, the park is maintained at a constant temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. It’s even outfitted with LED lighting that makes the tour absolutely breathtaking. You’ll also find an even an unusually proportioned structure, a caveman on a flowstone wall, and a frozen waterfall. The centerpiece is a 45-feet-tall stalagmite known as Goliath, which is the largest of its kind in the world. Furthermore, there are also hiking and very unique gemstone mining activities. The best bit? It’s an easy walk with only a few elevation changes and is even wheelchair accessible.
There are also multiple camping options in the park, including RV campsites and nicely shaded primitive camping ones. While there’s expansion work going on currently, there’s no reservation required in advance for minimum nights. Moreover, amenities include a bathhouse with hot showers and electric and water hookups. Moreover, the welcome center stocks both souvenirs and snacks. Since there are no sewer or dump stations at this point, here are some options for the Best Travel Potties. The park is open throughout the year between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Desoto State Park
The 3,500-acre-hue Desoto State Park is one of the best Alabama state parks for camping. Located close to the quaint mountain village of Mentone, the park sits on the western fringes of Lookout Mountain. In fact, it’s right on the Alabama-Tennessee border and is hardly an hour from Chattanooga. The state park is perhaps most known for the spectacular, 107-feet-tall DeSoto Falls and the nearby Little River Falls. For those doing summer or winter hiking here, you might want to check out the Best Waterproof Hiking Pants and the Best Waterproof Hiking Backpacks too.
Desoto State Park has lots of other fun things to do, especially for families. For instance, there are 30 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails, a playground, and even an Olympic-sized swimming pool. If you’re a wildlife lover, do head over to the nature center that hosts cool programs about local wildlife. Plus, there are even activities such as swimming, golfing, kayaking, fly-fishing, and much more. Don’t feel like cooking over a fire? The Desoto State Park Mountain Inn Restaurant serves delicious food, along with great views.
Campers have tons of accommodation choices, including motels, cabins, chalets, and campgrounds with backpacking, primitive, and improved sites. For RVers, there are “improved sites,” of which 94 are full hookup ones, while others are pull-through sites. Pro tip: The state park’s website mentions that GPS directions could be unreliable, so those who own medium-to-large-sized RVs should refer to the written directions on the website. What’s more, there are modern creature comforts, including a coin-operated laundry, showers, and bathrooms. The park is open throughout the year from sunrise to sundown every day.
Meaher State Park
Located smack dab in the middle of Mobile Bay, just 10 minutes from Mobile, is the campground at Meaher State Part. The 1,300-acre, small-sized but immensely popular Spanish Port state park boasts a coveted location – right at the gateway to the Mobile Tensaw Delta, the country’s second-largest.
The campground features 61 improved RV sites and 10 improved tenting ones and is a cozy setting. So, for those who love intimate campgrounds, this one is perfect. The best ones to catch sunsets over Mobile Bay are the odd-numbered ones between 7 and 35 and 52 and 54. Site 52 is a real favorite since it’s furthest from the Causeway and thus really tranquil. All the tent sites feature a picnic tent and a fire/grill pit, and there’s space for hammock camping, too, so you can check out the Best 2-Person Hammock Tents. Aside from these, there are two cabins overlooking Ducker Bay. Finally, communal facilities include a smaller bathhouse with restrooms and a heated/air-conditioned shower house with laundry facilities.
Even if you crave city life every once in a life, you can head into Mobile for its festivals, museums, and nightlife. The real standout, however, is the delta and the Five Rivers Delta Resource Center. It has not only a gift shop but also a theater that plays nature and outdoor-related movies and an educational and exciting exhibit hall. Moreover, the Center even rents out kayaks and conducts pontoon tours for viewing alligators in the wild. Anglers with love the fishing pier and boat ramp, while those who love getting out to explore on their own will love the up-and-close views of the delta on the self-guided walk along the boardwalk. The park is open daily between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (or sunset).
Wind Creek State Park
Wind Creek State Park is one of the largest Alabama state parks for camping. The 1,444-acre-huge state park sits an hour northeast of Montgomery and two hours southeast of Birmingham. The park is open throughout the year from 7 a.m. to dark, with fewer tourists in winter.
With a whopping 586 improved campsites, the Lake Martin campground is touted to be the country’s largest state-operated campground. Even though there are 500+ sites, they’re all reserved well in advance. This is especially true for the 156 waterfront ones, of which 122-128 in the Blue Loop are the best with electricity, sewage, and water access. The most popular Orange Loop ones are 32 through 40, 30, 29, 25, 24, and 22 near the camp store. Moreover, the Red Loop odd-numbered ones between 13 and 32 lie close to the swimming beach. Sites 122 to 128 in the Blue are nice waterfront sites as well. The best bit? The campground is brimming with amazing amenities, including modern, immaculate bathhouses and two laundries. Furthermore, there are even cabins if you don’t want to pitch a tent.
There are tons of outdoor activities to indulge in here, including remarkable hiking trails such as the John B. Scott Forever Wild Trail and the Smith Mountain Fire Tower Trail. Within the park, there’s a whole lot more to keep you busy, including a zipline canopy tour, kayaking, paddle boating, and an archery range. When you want some indulgence, get some ice cream, pizza, or a sandwich at “Creem on the Creek.” Of course, the lake is the highlight here for boating, swimming, and fishing, too, as the park even hosts fishing tournaments. Birdwatching enthusiasts will have the time of their lives spotting songbirds, waterfowl, and osprey as it’s part of Alabama’s Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail.
Cheaha State Park
Have you always wanted to stand at Alabama’s highest point? Welcome to Cheaha State Park, home to the 2,411-feet-tall Cheaha Mountain that comes from the Muskogee word “Chaha” meaning “high place.” Located just an hour east of Birmingham, this popular Alabama campground is the perfect base for exploring miles of trails and gorgeous views of the Talladega Mountains.
Choose from lots of primitive sites, 25 semi-improved ones at the CCC Tower, and 72 improved sites spread across two campgrounds. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of Cheaha’s improved sites, which are all heated. However, if you’re here in winter or have kids, then go for Campground 1 sites of 25, 23, 21, 19, 16, 14, 8, and 3, which all lie next to bathhouses. We’d recommend the lower Campground 2’s 30 sites during summers, which are a stone’s throw from Cheaha Lake. Those who want to take a break from camping sometimes even have a lodge, chalets, and cabins to choose from.
The 1930s-built stone bathhouses are all modern and heated, which is a blessing for winter camping. During summers, it’s chock-full of travelers looking to relax and cool off in Cheaha Lake. However, book early if you’re visiting around the weekend of the Talladega 500 NASCAR race. Cheaha is the best camping in Alabama due to its breathtaking views and endless activities. Aside from amazing scenic views, there’s swimming, rock climbing, rappelling, hiking trails, waterfall trails, bike trails, and even a museum and a gem mine! While the campground is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, Cheaha Lake closes for the winter between December and March. Are you planning to come here during winter? Here are the Best Winter Camping Tents and Best Camping Wool Blankets.
Lake Guntersville State Park
The 6,000-acre-huge Lake Guntersville State Park is one of the best Alabama state parks for camping in the northeast. Located less than 2 hours north of Birmingham, the state park is a gorgeous woodlands wonderland, complete with towering trees. Add to that the park is pet-friendly, which means your doggies needn’t be left behind! Are you planning to bring Fido along? You might want to read up on Best Camping Tents For Dogs.
But, there’s a lot more to do at this park, which lies on the Tennessee River. Intrepid adventures can attempt the heart-pumping Screaming Eagle Zipline, which will make them fly through the treeline. Moreover, the lakeside is perfect for pole fishing, picnicking, and swimming, and relaxing at the beach. Did you know this place has a golf course too? Yes! Even avid birders and nature lovers will love this place, which is a prime destination to spot bald eagles. In fact, there are even eagle awareness programs that teach you about them. And, of course, there are miles of hiking and biking trails.
The main campground here lies on the lakeside, complete with primitive camping areas, which are limited to 7 consecutive nights and 295 improved campsites. Moreover, all improved campsites have electrical, and water hookups, fire rings, grills, and picnic tables, which some even have were hookups. If you’re visiting during winter, then there are lakeside cabins. This is one of the only state parks to have boondock camping, so you might want to read up on the Best RV Batteries for Boondocking too. Amenities include bathhouses, two with washer-dryers, and a recreation area and playground. Any essentials you need to buy are available at The Campground Store. The park is open throughout the year between 8 a.m. and sundown.
What makes Rickwood Caverns State Park the best and most unique camping in Alabama is that it’s home to a massive cave. But, that’s not all. It’s home to 260 million-year-old rock formations and lies 175 feet below the ground! In fact, the rock formations reveal that the cave was carved from an ocean bed! In the blazing summer heat, it’s a wonderful feeling to step into this subterranean space that is maintained at a constant temperature of 58-62 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. During winters, it turns into a place warmer than the outdoors, making this park perfect for visiting throughout the year.
Open from 8 a.m. to sundown daily, Rickwood Caverns State Park lies just half an hour north of Birmingham. There’s so much more to do here, including hiking along the Fossil Mountain Hiking Trail and swimming in an Olympic-sized pool. You can even play treasure hunter and sift through dirt to find gemstones! The main activity during winters here is the “Wonderland Under Warrior,” a magical experience of touring the cave that transforms into an underground winter wonderland.
When it comes to camping at this best state park in Alabama, you have the option of 13 landscaped electric and water campsites. Moreover, they can accommodate motorhomes and trailers up to 40 feet. Additionally, there are also five primitive sites for tent camping, along with the comfort of a dump station and restrooms. Since this campsite is more basic compared to others, you might want to read up on the Camping Showers and the Best Camping Dish Soaps. If you want to go a step further, here are some Must-Have Camping Accessories. The best bit? The campgrounds are patrolled 24 hours.
Lakepoint State Park
Located less than 2 hours from Montgomery, the 1,22o-acre-huge Lakepoint State Park is one of the best Alabama state parks for camping. Sitting right on the Alabama-Georgia border, the state park lies on the 45,000-acre Lake Eufaula, a.k.a. “The Bass Capital of the World.” perfect for water lovers, Lakepoint offers a variety of amenities such as playgrounds, tennis courts, a swimming complex, hiking trails, a marina, and even a full-service restaurant and lounge.
Choose from 192 improved campsites across Clark Loop, Barbour Loop, and Deer Court. While the loop sites have electricity and water hookups, Deer Court has pull-through ones, too, including those with sewage, electricity, and water. What’s more, there are a whole lot of best camping services at this Alabama State Park. These include a community building, camper storage, a sanitary station, and bathhouses in every camping area. Registration and check-in now happen at the Marina Store. Are you visiting during winter? There are even lakeside cabins and cottages that are perfect for staying here in winter.
Wildlife abounds Iat this state park, and it’s especially fun to watch the alligators in their natural habit. Besides that, there’s so much to do here, such as boating from the marina and, of course, world-class freshwater fishing. The area is particularly popular with geocachers, so if you want to get started, then check out the Best Kayak Fish Finders. There are also numerous hiking and nature trails and even a golf course at this state park, which is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day.