With over 20 state parks, more inland waterways than any other state, and multiple Appalachian peaks, more and more outdoor lovers are turning to Alabama for adventure. While football is still king in this southern state, tourists enjoy the serenity of Alabama's white sand beaches and the thrill found within its carved canyons. So lace up the boots or grab a paddle – it is time to find camping in Alabama!
Alabama's shores have always been a hot spot for southern beach bums, but with the growing popularity of events like Hangout Festival, Gulf Shores is quickly becoming a bucket list destination for many. Fortunately, coastal camping is a reality in the Heart of Dixie.
Beach camping can be one of the most challenging experiences of your life, and simultaneously, the most peaceful. Find camping in Alabama along the sandy coastline of Gulf Shores and wake up to the sound of crashing waves. Warm waters and comfortable year-round temperatures make Gulf Shores a desirable stop for locals and visitors alike.
Looking to escape the crowds? Head north to camp primitively or grab a cabin close to Dismals Canyon. Not only will you find waterfalls and natural bridges at Dismals Canyon, but you can also find "dismalites," a rare fly that emits blue-green light in its larval form. Many explorers tour the canyon at night to catch a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of this natural light show.
Water lovers might prefer exploring the state by winding through all 631 miles of The Alabama Scenic River Trail instead. As the longest water trail in any single state in the country, this waterway takes paddlers from northeastern Alabama into the Gulf, passing through the heart of the state in the process. With The Dyrt, you can be sure to find the best camping in Alabama along the way.
3 night stay at the upper improved campground (lower improved was closed for winter maintenance). Sites are large but some are not very level, so have leveling gear ready. More pull thru sites here than I’ve seen at any other campground. Cellphone coverage with Verizon is spotty for the most part and nonexistent in some areas. No WiFi available. Bathhouse is very clean. When making your online reservation, the red boxes on the campground map are not the bathhouses. The single bathhouse is more centrally located in the Upper Improved Campground if you are one to choose a site based on its distance to the bathhouse. The park recently cut down many trees from storm damage, so there is a lot of free wood for the taking if you want to put in a little work to cut it up. Camp store has very basic, convenient store type, selection. Closest real grocery store is about 25 minutes from the park. Lots of hiking in the park and surrounding National Forest. And they have a dog park to let you furry friends run loose for a little bit. Primitive camping, cabins, and hotel also available in the park.
Camped in a tent in a power & water hook up site. Our site wasn't the greatest. It didn't have any trees and one very bright street light, however, it was close to the bath house and pavilion. We were with a SOTF group, so I could hang my hammock on a friend's trees. We hiked around the large lake. It's a beautiful park! The staff was very friendly, helpful and had a great sense of humor! There are lots of trails, several lakes, horse stables, golf course, and a wildlife rescue center that does tours. Oh and a beach and paddle boats to rent. Would camp there in a heartbeat!
Warning: this place has no cell service, that could be a good thing or a bad thing. We don't seem to mind it. I do recommend downloading an offline version the area in Google Maps, just in case.
This is a really good place for weekend camping! Me and my family love to go camping here. The lake is great for canoeing and fishing. There is a primitive restroom in the camping area and a restroom with a shower and running water in the day area. There is a nice paved trail that goes from the campgrounds halfway around the lake to the dam.
It only cost $5 a night to camp here and the park is on the honor system.
This is a video I made on my last camping trip: https://youtu.be/MK391ssfNe8
Stayed overnight in July and there was just 1 toilet working! When it rains just a bit, the campground is a mess. I expect mud but this was awful. Way too much water lying around to be able to setup a tent. Fortunately, they had a couple spots that were a bit higher up so not as wet and muddy. Too expensive for what you get. Staff was ok, not overly friendly or helpful but certainly not rude.
There are bathrooms and bath houses, fairly secluded campsites, along with 26 miles of trails which are easy to moderate with a flat surface.
You will walk through historic civil war sites, trails that were once the streets of the town of Blakeley. A beautiful hike on boardwalks along the Blakeley River then through a swamp on deep into woods amongst ancient oaks.
Large sites, some level some not so much. We stayed in site 30 which was great! No cell service, but the campground has WiFi. Visit the link for more information and lots of photos. https://imaginecamper.com/2018/11/06/desoto-state-park-al/
To get to this park, you drive right through Huntsville neighborhoods. We made our reservations earlier in the week but had a different site each night because the park was going to be full.
In my opinion, all the sites are nice because the campground is in the woods. And you can pitch a tent far from the road in the separate primitive area.
On Saturday night, I couldn't believe the number of TVs outside the RVs. I guess this is an inexpensive way to experience an Alabama football game outside. :) Sites were crowded with lots of people; one site had about 8 cars along the road during the game. Fortunately people were in a good mood because Alabama was never in danger of losing.
Alabama's Campground Taxes Are HIGH
Our sites with water and electricity were $26/night although a senior discount was applied for Thursday night. (No discounts on weekends.) We paid a one-time fee of $5 and the total cost was $93.55. Taxes are almost 20%.
There are only 2 restrooms/showerhouses which seems a bit on the low side for this campground. They're clean enough but the staff should check them more often on a full weekend in the fall. By Saturday evening, there were no paper towels and the toilet paper was gone from all except one stall. And it was still like that on Sunday morning at 9.
Standard amenities include a fire ring and picnic table at each site, dump station, and trash dumpsters out front.
Sites (except primitive sites in the tent area) have power and water. There are also some sites with sewer hookup.
The number of hiking trails is what made this park appeal to us. You can pick up an excellent map at the park office.
There's a disc golf course and a Japanese garden.
Primitive sites were full so we didn't ask if a teardrop trailer could be taken back there. The road to those sites is a bit bumpy but we could have easily fit on those sites. A call to the park would be worth it if you're interested.
This state campground in the Birmingham AL metro area is a quick getaway for city and suburban dwellers. We were looking for continued warm fall weather on a slow trip north; this met the warmth and fall criteria in late October. The proximity to the city made it a good choice for exploring Birmingham.
Campground as Hotel
We left in the morning and came back in the evening. Using the campground strictly for accommodations worked out well; it wasn't a place where we would have wanted to hang around the campground all day. The large RVs crammed on sites that weren't very large gave us a closed in feeling. We pulled down the shade in our teardrop to avoid the light pollution from the campers who leave ground lights and other decorative lights on all night. (Do they leave their outdoor holiday lights on all night at home?)
Tent Only Sites
The tent only sites are the best feature of this park. You can pitch your tent among the trees away from the RVs packed together in the rest of the park.
There's no power or water at these sites.
These sites are listed as tent only, but the park office attendant told us there were a few where we could fit our vehicle and teardrop. We declined because we thought we'd be too close to the road although we later saw several that would have been fine
Site 42B is the BEST SITE IN THE PARK! You walk down to the site from the parking area, and then there's a great view of the water. I took a photo looking back at the site from the beach area.
All sites not designated tent only have electricity and water. There are some sites with sewer hookup as well as 50 amp power. See site map photo.
Loop A's sites are more spread out than sites in Loop B.
Loop B: B33 was ok. I recommend sticking to the outside of this loop because there are two roads down the center where you'll have sites on both sides, across the road and behind you. Inside the loop seemed crowded because there were large RVs.
Several restrooms are spread throughout the park. They each have a couple toilets and a shower along with hot and cold water in the sinks. Restrooms are clean and a checklist indicates they're inspected 2 or 3 times per day. Everything works fine, but they could use an update inside. If the usage at the end of October is any indication of overall usage, this park is heavily used. It's close to Birmingham which has over a million people, one-fourth of Alabama's population. The state of Alabama should step up and do some renovation.
Site Taxes are HIGH
Be prepared for a significant jump to the cost when taxes are applied. Our campsite fee was a reasonable $22.65/night which included a 15% senior discount. Regular price is $26.65. Taxes and a $4.50 one-time fee were added for a grand total of $85.62 for 3 nights. If you're counting, that's 20+% in taxes.
Things To Do In The Park: boating, fishing, swimming, hiking. You can purchase a detailed hiking map for $1. If you aren't from the area and want to take in some Birmingham history, there are options.
Red Mountain Park has hiking trails along with old iron ore mines. There's an adventure park with zip lining, climbing, etc.
The base of Vulcan, Alabama's entry in the 1904 World's Fair, is the best place to see Birmingham. The museum next to the statue was well done; it provides a history of this steel city.
The park across from the 16th Street Baptist Church (site of the bombing on 9/15/1963 that killed 4 young girls) is a window into the sad part of Birmingham's history. There's also a civil rights museum nearby.
The craft breweries (Good People and Avondale) were good. And great barbecue at Saw. Pizza was good at Post Office Pies but they need to put more basil on a pizza advertised as a white basil pizza, not 5 little scraps.
We had heard great things about Gulf State Park. We were very pleased. The bath house was kind of old but very clean. I went to several of the bath houses on the property and all of them had been cleaned very well. We had to move from one site to be able to stay an extra night but well worth it. My son loved the pool. We liked the lounge chairs around the pool. The people in the office were great and very helpful.
Hiking in the area is amazing!!’ The campground is nice… a lot pull through spots. No wifi or cell service; but we loved being disconnected. Recommend starting at Cheaha Trailhead and catch Cave Creek Trail to Pinhoti back to the parking lot… views are amazing.
I was very excited to visit Birmingham for my first trip. I didn’t know what to expect out of the city although I have heard several things about it’s long standing history.
One of the most attractive things about this location was that it was close to the Botanical Gardens which I had seen raved about and a lot of top magazines. Southern Living had featured them as one of their southern living gardens and I was very interested in seeing exactly just what that had in store.
Since I am a tent camper finding a location close to a city is sometimes somewhat difficult. However Birmingham location and proximity to this park are very close and that made for the best of both worlds.
While I was at the campground I enjoyed a wonderful tent site that was primitive. They have both primitive and improve sides at the campground and you can pick and choose from either. I enjoy the primitive sites simply because it does save a little bit of money while on one of my budget blog trips this stretches my dollars further and helps me go a little bit farther to the next location. I noticed that the RV sites were plenty long and could accommodate almost any size rig and still have space. There were both pull through and back and sides for both tent campers and RV campers.
The shower house although it was not the most improved our house I have been to was nice and the water pressure was strong. I enjoyed several hiking trails while out at the park during the day and then made my way into Birmingham for the evening.
The community of Birmingham it’s a wonderful place and I truly enjoyed this stop I only hope that I can explore it more on my next trip there. So many things to do while here it was hard to not have a bit more time here.
This is a backcountry site right along the trail that you pass a minute or two before you get to the Blue Mountain Shelter. I have linked to that review and I highly suggest checking it out first since it covers some of the directions for hiking into this area. This specific site is more suited for groups however since it has multiple flat areas for lots of tents and several fire pits if you want to spread out. You can set up camp here and hike further on to get to some of the nearby viewpoints which are well worth the trek. This site isn’t that special but practical if you need the space and want to have a nice jumping off point to see some of the other sites in the area.
Update for my most recent visit: I would first go check out my video review of this site below since it will help you get an idea of what is available and help you understand how the space is set up. I also have several videos attached that show some of the more confusing trail components so you don’t get lost. This is the closest campground to the trailhead and my least favorite of the options in the park. I would really only stay here if you are in a pinch and need a last minute flat site to pitch a tent.
I would first go check out my video review of this site below since it will help you get an idea of what is available and help you understand how the space is set up. I also have several videos attached that show some of the more confusing trail components so you don’t get lost. This is a backpacking site that is right alongside the trail and pretty easy to find. It has a little more space than the first one you pass so would be a better option if you are in a group of more than 2. However, since it is right along the trail you wont have the same privacy. There is a small (read very small seasonal) stream a short ways further down the trail but don’t count on this so fill up whenever you pass a stream earlier or go further along where you will pass additional fill up sites. Check out my other reviews of Cheaha for more info on backpacking here.
I would first go check out my video review of this site below since it will help you get an idea of what is available and help you understand how the space is set up. I also have several videos attached that show some of the more confusing trail components so you don’t get lost. This is a nice site slightly off of the main trail that is well organized for a single backpacker or a very small group. Previous hikers have built up a firepit and also a wooden “bench” type thing that works best for organizing your gear on. This site is easily missed when going along the trail since it requires taking a small path to get to that is overgrown in the summertime. However it is a wonderful option only a couple miles into the trail so I would check it out if you are on your own. There is not easily available water near the site so fill up whenever you pass a stream earlier or go further along where you will pass additional fill up sites. Check out my other reviews of Cheaha for more info on backpacking here.
Chewacla State Park near Auburn, Alabama was a nice place with some old architecture and nice mountain bike trails.
At the front gate the employee was so busy talking to his friend, possibly another employee, that he couldn’t be bothered to answer any questions. Then his friend felt the need to tell me make sure my dogs were on leashes in a totally snarky voice/attitude. When I stated my dogs would be leashed she said “yeah that’s what they always say”. That could have ruined the whole visit.
I attempted to have an enjoyable time exploring the trails and area and soon forgot about the evil female at the front gate. I really like the old bridges along the roadway and trails. I missed the falls :( The original CCC cabins are renovated and still in use.
The lake is pieceful due in part to only non-motorized vehicles permitted. There is a nice beach area with sand and pavilion.
The campground has an old showerhouse but it was in good repair. Not totally creepy at night. The sites are level and shady and depending on which site you get mostly private. The tent area sits between the two RV loops.
This site is a glorified parking lot across the street from the racetrack in Talladega. If you have a choice and others are not full I would suggest continuing down the road a little further to check out the other options. It is mostly just a large field where you can park your RV. They do have amenities such as water, electrical, and sewer which is nice. On non race days these campgrounds also work for a low-cost place to stay over for visiting the nearby Cheaha wilderness area. If you are staying here or in the area I highly suggest checking it out.
This is another of the many RV parking lot/campgrounds right near the racetrack in Talladega. This one was a little nicer than some of the others in the area and seems to be well taken care of. It incorporates a large grassy field to set up your site and some more wooded spots in the back. They also have amenities such as water, electrical, and sewer. On non race days these campgrounds also work for a low-cost place to stay over for visiting the nearby Cheaha wilderness area. If you are staying here or in the area I highly suggest checking it out.
Update for recent visit: Check out my other reviews of Oak Mountain to get an idea of some of the amazing hiking and places to see views. This site is one of four backcountry sites that the park offers. I have been to this one twice now since it is the closest to a parking area so is the most forgiving if you get a late start. The major thing to be aware of is that they do not allow fires at any of these sites so keep that in mind and you will need to either bring in your own water or purify it from one of the small seasonal streams that runs near the site. Overall this is a nice large site and you will definitely have your privacy since they closely regulate who stays at these backcountry locations and only a single group is allowed at each at a time. It is a wonderful place to get away for a night and see the stars.
Update for most recent visit: This is by far the best place to camp near Birmingham and has many different options. I was just there this past weekend and it was so beautiful to see all the fall colors starting to show. My wife and I hiked up to the King’s Chair lookout on this visit and it was such an amazing sight. I would definitely recommend this time of year to visit the park. Make sure to check out my videos that show off some of the great features of the trails. The campground here has several different types of sites including walk in (tent only), RV, and even horse camping. Just make sure to check in advance if they have space since it can fill up in the busy season.
This campground is located at the trailhead for the Chief Ladiga bike path. It has several small sites and is run by the local municipality. There are the basic bathroom features you would expect at an organized campground like this but not much extra. Since it is so close to the city and right alongside a road it doesn’t provide much privacy but works if you are camping and biking and want to get an early start or arrive here and don’t want to ride back that day. If you are going to be biking the trail and camping I would recommend first looking at the option of staying at the Chief Ladiga Campground which has much nicer amenities and is located in Talladgea National Forest so definitely has more of a camping feel. If you camp here in a tent be prepared to be mixed in with RVs and pay a slightly expensive fee for your site.
Took a group trip here in high school and stayed in the larger group sites separated by gender. Overall it was a wonderful weekend and a great location for a group of our size with lots of amazing activities to do in the area. We also took full advantage of the great covered picnic areas since it rained a bunch that weekend. Some of our activities included taking kayaks/canoes up the river above Desoto Falls then hiking down from the top to swim in the small lake below. We also did a bunch of trust and group team building activities in some of the many open spaces around the campground. Overall, this is a great place to come with school groups and the large campsites work perfectly for lots of people to sleep.
White Oak Creek Campground, is in Alabama…..I obviously missed the State Sign when I crossed the border;)
This was a quiet, low populated area when we traveled through. I should say low people populated, the bug population was booming! Gnats and mosquitoes, I can see why the frog population is so high.
The lake had several signs denoting the presence of alligators. I didn’t see any, but there in lies the problem! I’ve seen to many National Geographic shows where the unsuspecting gnu gets grabbed while try to quench its thirst. So my dogs were not happy with me because they were not permitted in the water. There were people in the beach area and their kids were playing in the water. There were plenty of people out fishing too.
The campground was shaded and I liked the double spots available for people traveling together. Some sites definitely had more privacy then others. When you don’t reserve ahead you get what’s left if anything. The facilities were not new but they were clean and the park was well maintained. This would be a water recreation style camping trip but you could walk or bike the road.