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.
We had a 3 night stay on site 55 on the Hoot Owl loop at Clear Creek Recreational Area in the William B Bankhead National Forest. Campground has 4 loops. 2 loops are on the water and first come first serve (non-reservable), and 2 loops are off the water and can be reserved by calling or online. Lake front sites are $26 a night and non-lake sites are $24 a night. Please note, the non-reservable loops are cash or check only, so this caught us off guard, but the staff was nice enough to let us in and find an ATM in the morning to settle up. All sites have a paved vehicle and trailer area that is relatively level and a gravel area with a fire pit and table. Site numbers that end with a “D” on the map below are double sites, so double the parking area, double the hook ups, 2 picnic tables, and double the price. Those sites were large but not sure how two big rigs would fit on those site. In my opinion, they would work good for 2 teardrops or smaller trailers though. This campground is seasonal and closed from the end of October until the first week of March.
Cellphone coverage with Verizon was good throughout the park. No WiFi available.
Multiple bathhouse around the campground so you are never more than ~500 feet from one. Bathhouse’s are clean, but showers are push button style that only run about 10-15 seconds with each push. Plus, the water starts warm, but cools down with each push. Also, because this is a seasonal campground, there are no heaters, so be aware of some chilly showers in the early or late seasons when temps are low.
There is no camp store, but the park office has limited supplies (fire wood, ice, bug spray, batteries, and hand soap). Closest convenient store is about 15 minutes away and real grocery store is about 25-30 minutes from the park.
Lots of downed trees on this visit, so there is a lot of free wood for the taking if you want to put in a little work to cut it up.
Some hiking from the campground with a few amazing rock caves and small water falls. There is also a paved bike/walking trail.
Group camping, swimming beach, and boat ramp also available in the park. Water sites have easy access to put in kayaks or canoes right from your site.
2 nice breweries (one that also makes wine) not far away in Jasper, AL.
We highly recommend sites 5, 17, 47, 55, 79, 81, and 82. Sites that are also nice and would work are 8, 18, 38, 42, 45, 49, 57, 77, 87, 89, and 99.
I’ve been camping here 2 or 3 times a year for the past 19 years. Wooded area, spacious campsites, & the cabins are always so clean. Trade days & Halloween are my favorite times to come. A couple of short hiking trails. A lot of history. Ironwork museum I think it’s like $1 or $2 a person & it’s worth walking through.
Located on Lake Martin with lots of space and many lake front sites as well as interior sites. Plenty of Great bath house facilities throughout. Lots of activities, family and dog friendly too. Not many people this time of year, which we like. Good hiking trails, Fishing, archery, playgrounds, all kinds of water sports. Take the time to visit this State Park.
Secluded and quiet, but 10 minutes from anything you forgot to bring. Ideal for RV'ing, this place is good for picnics, hiking, or just peaceful reflection. Tent camping is also available.
Two night stay on site 39. Love the large sites that are nicely separated from neighboring sites and overlook the water. Friendly staff and clean bathhouse. Only one bathhouse that is centrally located and is a decent walk from some sites. Only limited, easy hiking available in the park. No WiFi, but good cell signal with Verizon throughout the park. No camp store, but convenient and grocery stores about 15 minutes away.
I first visited Monte Sano SP about a year ago, and it’s been one of my absolute favorite places in Alabama since. As a female I LOVE the staff and feel safe camping and hiking the trails throughout the park solo and with my dogs. Their are so many trails to choose from but the best part about the park, in my opinion is the fact the campsites in the primitive area are typically separated greatly by trees, so you get more a feeling of privacy. If I continue to type, it’ll turn into a book, but take my word for it, if you love nature, privacy and scenic views, Monte Sano is your place in Alabama.
My husband and I tent camped at Cheaha State Park in February,2019 as part of our quest to hike the highest point in every state. This park is probably much better for those not tent camping. First the store and staff are AWESOME! We had to change our stay to one night vs two due to the upcoming storm, no, problem. The hiking trails are great and the views are awesome. I think we were the only tent campers in the park. The actual site had no level ground to pitch our tent, we even tried a separate site since we were the only ones there, but no luck. The bathrooms had no shower, otherwise nice. The highest point is actually in the park, so it wasn’t much of a hike, but there is a nice tower and a museum that has much of the history of CCC. There are Pavillions and a restaurant on site. We couldn’t decide between 3 and 4 stars, but for tent campers we chose 3 due to reasons stated.
This park is like a small city, there are over 500 sites, only 11 tent sites. My husband and I tent camped at gulf state park in February, 2019 and it was very nice, they have so many amenities here you don’t ever have to leave. If you were looking for solitude time, this is not the site for you. The bathrooms were nicer than some hotels I have stayed in. There is a store on site, tennis/pickle ball courts, swimming pool, activities center, horseshoe pit, nature center and over 25 miles of very nice hiking trails, oh yea, and less than a 20 minute walk to one of the best white sand beaches in the USA. Also playgrounds for kids. There is a laundromat and they have a church service and other scheduled activities.
We tent camped at Piney Point several times last summer. Even in the summer heat, the shade is enough to keep you comfortable. The bathhouse is close to the campsites. The regulars are welcoming, the lake is close by for swimming. We stayed here while kayaking Bear Creek. It was a nice, quiet place to relax.
Chewacla State Park is adjacent to Auburn, AL, and it stays busy due to the proximity of the school and city. I stayed twice for a geology class and found the campsites and amenities to be wonderful. The trails around the park and not very extensive, however there are mountain biking trails covering most of the park. The main hiking trail runs down to a small waterfall where you can spread out and roam as you please. Both times I visited it was very busy, but that did little to detract from the experience. Just don't visit with the intent of seclusion.
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.