The Best State Parks in Alabama for an Adventure-Packed Getaway

The Best State Parks in Alabama for an Adventure-Packed Getaway

Alabama has some of the best state parks in the South. They’re fun to explore in any season, and each has its own particular draws, from hiking trails and caves to waterfalls and rock formations. Whether you'd like to fish, boulder, or just take in some picturesque scenery, you can do it here. If camping is the name of the game, you can make reservations using an online tool at Also, you can find resort-park amenities at Cheaha State Park, DeSoto State Park, Gulf State Park, Joe Wheeler State Park, Lake Guntersville State Park, and Lakepoint State Park. There are lists of all Alabama’s parks, as well as hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails with interactive maps, available online


Cathedral Caverns State Park


Cathedral Caverns opened as a state park in 2000. Its name comes from the fact that the caves resemble cathedrals; there are many wonders to be found inside them, and you can book a cave tour to see them. According to Alabama State Parks, “Inside the cavern are some of the most beautiful formations Mother Nature has ever created, including “Goliath,” one of the largest stalagmites in the world measuring 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference.”


Cheaha State Park


Located in Delta, Alabama, Cheaha State Park is home to the highest point in Alabama. It’s located in the southern reaches of the Appalachian mountains, and Alabama State Parks describes it this way: “Imagine 2,799 acres of granite boulders and wind-warped ancient trees at 2,407 feet above sea level, often above the clouds, and surrounded by 392,567 acres of the Talladega National Forest including 7,245 acres of Cheaha Wilderness.” 


Chewacla State Park


Just a stone’s throw from Auburn and Opelika, Chewacla State Park comprises a 26-acre lake, campground, cabins, and places to picnic, hike, mountain bike, and fish (bream, bass, crappie and catfish swim in Lake Chewacla, according to Alabama State Parks). 


DeSoto State Park

De Soto

You’ll find DeSoto State Park just outside of Fort Payne, Alabama. It’s a mountainous hub papered in forests that open to waterfalls and wildflowers, but in addition to hiking and picnicking, you can also embark on kayaking, fishing, and bouldering excursions. DeSoto Falls, which are part of the park, can be found nearer Mentone, Alabama, their rushing waters certainly worth a visit.


Gulf State Park


Situated on the Gulf of Mexico (where else?), Gulf State Park comprises beautiful stretches of beach, a campground, and spots to splash and sun on the sands. Not only that, you can launch out into Lake Shelby or hike and bike among the area’s distinctive coastal habitats. 


Joe Wheeler State Park


This state park in Rogersville, Alabama, offers access to the Tennessee River and is part of the Great Loop, “the continuous waterway that circumnavigates the eastern portion of North America, along the Atlantic Seaboard, across the Great Lakes, through inland rivers and around the Gulf of Mexico,” according to Alabama State Parks. Here, you’ll find a 2,550-acre resort park with a waterfront lodge as well as plenty of boating and fishing on Wheeler Lake.  


Lake Guntersville State Park


Located in northeast Alabama, Lake Guntersville is a hub for vacationers as well as a growing population of bald eagles. It’s situated along the Tennessee River and has 6,000 acres of woods to explore, hiking and biking trails, a golf course, a zipline system, and a beach. That’s in addition to the lake itself, which is Alabama’s largest and is a popular place for fishing. There are also guided hikes available in the park each week. 


Lake Lurleen State Park


Those looking to get away to nature from busy Tuscaloosa or Birmingham may find themselves at Lake Lurleen State Park, in Coker, Alabama, where 23 miles of multi-use trails for hiking and biking, campsites, a lake teeming with fish, and a beach for splashing and swimming beckon adventurers.


Meaher State Park


You can find Meaher State Park north of Mobile Bay. It’s located in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta at the confluence of the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers, and when you visit, there are lots of water-centric activities to enjoy, like boating, fishing for freshwater and saltwater fish, meandering the boardwalk, and picnicking on the scenic shores. In the way of accommodations, there are RV campsites and a few cabins available. 


Monte Sano State Park


Located near Huntsville, this state park in northeast Alabama is a destination for mountain adventures. There are campgrounds onsite, as well as fourteen rustic cabins, some of which were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). Here, you’ll see mountain vistas and mineral springs along the park’s hiking and biking trails. 


Oak Mountain State Park


At over 11,000 acres, Oak Mountain State Park is Alabama’s largest state park. It’s located in Pelham, near Birmingham, and has a big variety of outdoor activities to do across its broad square footage, including hiking, mountain biking, golfing, swimming, fishing, boating, and horseback riding. Don’t miss the Treetop Nature Trail to see The Alabama Wildlife Center’s avian rehabilitation facilities. 


Rickwood Caverns State Park


According to Alabama State Parks, “What makes Rickwood Caverns State Park unique is the massive cave that contains 260-million-year-old formations that were created by water and reveal evidence that the cave was carved from an ocean bed.” In this state park, you’ll find camping, hiking on Fossil Mountain Hiking Trail, swimming in a pool fed by water from the cave, and sightseeing around the incredible formations found inside the enormous cavern. You can also take a guided tour of the cave, the centerpiece of the park, which traverses one mile and takes an hour to complete.


Source: The Best State Parks in Alabama for an Adventure-Packed Getaway Southern Living (February 4, 2023) Southern Living Editors