June 2016 Column: Exploring Alabama’s State Parks
Summer is officially here— school’s out, graduations have wrapped up and the summer heat is in full swing. As you make summer travel plans for your family, consider exploring Alabama the beautiful.
Alabama is home to over two dozen state parks reaching from the sugar-white beaches of the Gulf Coast to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The state parks have in total 48,000 acres of land and water. With over 75 years of service to our State, the state parks acquire and preserve natural areas to develop, furnish, operate and maintain recreational facilities, and extend the public’s knowledge of the State’s natural environment.
No matter your age, the state parks have an activity or amenity for you to enjoy. With more than 2,500 modern campsites, cabins and six resorts, there is plenty of room for an overnight, weekend or week stay. The parks provide public access to waterways for boating, fishing, water skiing and wildlife viewing. Also, there are miles of trails for biking, horseback riding, backpacking, geocaching, running and walking. Many of the parks have an opportunity for a wonderful dining experience.
When looking for a place to cool off, waterways can be found all across this State. Water recreation can be enjoyed at the Gulf State Park on the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico; Meaher State Park in Spanish Fort on the Mobile Delta; Lake Jackson RV State Park in Florala; Frank Jackson State Park in Opp; Blue Springs State Park in Clio, featuring a crystal clear underground spring; Windcreek State Park on Lake Martin; Lakepoint State Park on Lake Eufaula, known as the bass capital of the world; Lake Lurleen State Park in Coker; Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville offering golfing on Wheeler Lake; and, last but not least, Lake Guntersville, Alabama’s largest lake.
Two Alabama State Parks offer the unique experience of cave tours. At Rickwood State Park in Warrior, the massive 260 million-year-old cave is a must see. The underground wonder is a cool activity to escape the sweltering summer heat. The Cathedral Caverns State Park in Woodville is named for its cathedral-like large opening to the cave. The cave tours are sure to be the best 90 minutes spent touring our State’s natural wonders.
Miles of trails can provide a source of exercise while viewing Alabama’s beautiful nature at our State’s largest park, Oak Mountain State Park. Cheaha State Park in Delta and Desoto State Park in Fort Payne provide mountain-top retreats. Bucks Pocket State Park in Grove Oak in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville have serene mountain setting experiences. The Chewacla State Park in Auburn provides trails for those looking for a challenging mountain bike trail.
Our state parks in Alabama have recently faced critical budget issues and many devastating closures. This past Legislative Session, Senator Clay Scofield made a bold move for the sake of Alabama’s State Parks. SB260 is a constitutional amendment to permanently protect Alabama’s State Parks funding from being transferred to any other agency. The Constitutional Amendment will appear on the General Election Ballot in November for the people of Alabama to make a permanent decision in favor for the State Parks in our State. A vote for state parks is a vote for our future generation’s wildlife experiences.
Each state park in Alabama provides a unique experience with a variety of amenities to enjoy. I encourage you to support our State and enjoy Alabama this summer.