This is my new favorite park close to home. Monte Sano is located in Huntsville but you would never know it once get get up here. It is so peaceful. The sites are shady & far enough apart that you feel like you have a little privacy. And if you love to hike then this is the park for you. Wonderful trails that are clearly marked. There is a trail for all skill levels so you can decide how intense you want and how long you want to hike. There are several sites on the edge of the mountain that offer stunning views but they go quick so it’s hard to get those. The same with the few sites that offer full hookups. Having sewage isn’t that big of a deal for us but it is nice to have. We came up here last summer & there was literally a 10° difference in temperature when we got to the top of the mountain. So even in the heat of summer it’s pleasant up here. If you like to venture out there is plenty to do in Huntsville & several great places to eat. The bathhouse could stand to be updated but it’s usually clean & the water is hot so I’m happy.
Down here working for a few months and wanted a clean quiet safe place. This place is all the above. The owners are very nice and helpful. Will definitely stay here when ever I'm down here again working. $450 a month including utilities. No pool. Does have a laundry room. Pond on site.
We got a tent site with power. Great price! Clean park, lake is always a good thing. Lights at camp ground kinda bright, but guess if I needed to go pee that would help lol. Lady working office was pretty nice and helpful. Has a little store can get almost anything you might need. Bath house shower had great hot water with good pressure. Felt safe here that’s important. I’d definitely come back. Probably next weekend lol the beach area had a lot of rocks! Probably due to water level low had to go buy some water shoes, but then it was all good.
The entire Sipsey Wilderness is gorgeous, but if you want a trail with lots of great spots to camp, this trail is fantastic. Don't expect bathrooms or drinking water to be nearby, but if you're looking to really get away from it all and do some primitive camping, this is a great place to go. You'll find fire pits at most of the sites that previous campers have made, but that's about it. Most of the time, except during dry spells, there are LOTS of waterfalls. Also lots of shallow places for the kids to play in the water. Watch for snakes and bring bug spray. If you want a good campground in Bankhead National Forest near Sipsey that is more modern with a bathhouse, picnic tables, etc, try Brushy Lake. But this trail is perfect for primitive camping.
Monte Sano State Park offers: 21 Primitive(tent only) campsites, 59 Water& Electric sites, and 15 Full- Hook-Up sites. Monte Sano sits on 2,140 acres with spectacular vistas from atop the mountain, especially when the fall leaves show off their colors. In the spring, native azaleas bloom along the 20 miles of hiking trails and 14 miles of biking trails. Quite campground. Great Camp Hosts, very friendly and helpful ranger staff. This is the best kept secret in North Alabama. Lots of activities within just 20 miles from campground. Beautiful views and trails(from easy to advanced). Biking trails are awesome. Every site has it all. https://youtu.be/I_84tyldNNw
Monte Sano State Park offers: 21 Primitive(tent only) campsites, 59 Water& Electric sites, and 15 Full- Hook-Up sites.
Monte Sano sits on 2,140 acres with spectacular vistas from atop the mountain, especially when the fall leaves show off their colors. In the spring, native azaleas bloom along the 20 miles of hiking trails and 14 miles of biking trails.
Quite campground. Great Camp Hosts, very friendly and helpful ranger staff.
This is the best kept secret in North Alabama. Lots of activities within just 20 miles from campground.
Beautiful views and trails (from easy to advanced). Biking trails are awesome.
Every site has it all.
We visited Monte Sano State Park in the middle of summer (June) and stayed in the campground for five nights. We made our reservations through the Alabama State Parks web reservation portal at https://guestrez.megasyshms.com/5Q5BT for campground and cabin rentals.
The campground is located near the city of Huntsville, Alabama to the east. The park was easily accessible and the drive from the city to the park was not typical as it takes you though some of Huntsville’s neighborhoods before arriving to the park’s entrance. Once we arrived we went directly to the visitor’s center where the staff was friendly and organized. Our paperwork was already completed so the check in process was quick but very informative. We also received the gate code for the campground as the gate is electronically operated and closes after every opening to provide a welcomed level of security. We stayed in site 25 of the first loop, the park was not crowded in the campground as the summer temperatures were near extreme highs. The camp sites are very well spaced and there’s enough trees and underbrush to offer privacy. There are a few sites that have full hookups but most are without sewer. The park map I’ve included shows the ones with full hook up services. The bath houses were clean and orderly, the staff came by in the mornings to clean and restock. There are two camper/tent loops with rest rooms and showers at each. One tent only loop with no facilities but beautiful large sites.
The park has several scenic areas where the views of the mountains are great and provides a nice place to sit and ponder. There's also an operational Planetarium on the park sponsored and operated by the Von Braun Astronomical Society (https://www.vbas.org/). There are shows on Saturday’s at 7:30PM with an admission or $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for students. You will need to get there early though as parking is limited but worth the effort to visit.
There are miles and miles of bike and hiking trails here, on the weekend it’s amazing how many cyclists come here to ride the trails. Some of the trails are very aggressive and some moderate for those of us that want this pace, the parks paved roads also offer a good place for a casual ride in the evenings.
All in all, we really enjoyed this park and will add this to our return list in the future. I also have to recommend a visit to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (https://www.rocketcenter.com/) in Huntsville, you won’t be disappointed.
This is a wonderful park that is worth the time and effort to visit. We’ve gone here a few times now as it’s one of our favorites on a hot summer day. The temperature inside the cave stays a cool 62 degrees and the paths through the cave are wide and paved. The tours take about two hours and we’ve never seen it crowded, the guides are very knowledgeable and entertaining. The price to see the cave is $19.00 per person and the tours are started at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 16:00, be sure to go to the office to obtain you tickets before the tour starts.
There is a small campground here that as a limited number of sites with 30 amp electricity, water but no sewer. The sites are not reservable yet so call beforehand for availability. There are also tent camping sites and a bath house for the campground. We like it here and will come again in the future.
Me and my 6 year old daughter hiked the trail this past Saturday, July 27, 2019. Had a great time. Definately be back
We stayed 4 nights in our 23 foot Airstream in site 14, a pull-thru, with our 2 kids, ages 5 and 13. A hiking trail that leads to the Japanese garden runs directly behind the site and it is close to the bath house, but not too close 😉 The Japanese garden is small but lovely and definitely worth the short walk.
Nearly every site was full while we were there (because of the city wide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing), but it never felt crowded and everything remained clean and well stocked. We attended a show at the planetarium, they run every Saturday. The 13 year old and I enjoyed it but the 5 year old and my husband found it excruciatingly boring. If space and astronomy aren't your thing, don't go 😂 On clear nights you are invited to look through the telescope. The view from the overlook just past the planetarium is not to be missed.
We had zero Verizon service at site 14 but it was nice to unplug. If we wanted to check the weather or email we just took a quick bike ride to the sites on the bluff or to the camp store. The store doesn't stock much but there's a great little family owned grocery store, Star Market, at the bottom of the mountain. We got pizzas and some hot items from the deli. Everything we tried was good!
We took an afternoon to tour Cathedral Caverns which is about 20 miles away. If you are even remotely interested in caves or nature or pretty things DO NOT MISS IT! There are not words enough to express the spectacular beauty of the caverns. There's a paved path the entire way, making it accessible to everyone regardless of physical capability. They offer a golf cart tour to those unable to walk the 1.5 miles. It's wide open and triggered none of the anxiety I typically feel in a cave.
Back to the camp ground… lots of wild life to see. Tame-ish deer wander among the camp sites and snack nightly at the camp host's site. Mind the 15 mph speed limit! They are not bashful about giving tickets. Very friendly staff. We'll definitely be back
Most campgrounds in Tennessee are buried in the woods, but not this yurt campsite at Ray of Hope. The yurt sets on the side of a beautiful Tennessee Hill offering almost a complete view of the nighttime sky. We watched the moon rise over a hill directly in front of the campsite, and we even saw a brilliant shooting star blaze across the sky for what seems like an eternity. The Ray of Hope campground is a private campground that went above and beyond our expectations. The yurt was clean, included battery powered lights and a LED lantern, and a full sized bed that made the night pass with ease. The campsite also offers free firewood and a large fire ring. There are two deck chairs at the campsite which are perfect for stargazing. The entrance of the yurt faces sunrise and the farm animals serenade you in the morning when the mist begins to burn off the valley. There is a well stocked outside shower surrounded by sweet smelling herbs. Water and a toilet are near the shower stall. The campsite is near the small town of Petersburg, TN where you can find two gas stations and a Dollar Store. If it's hot outside, you might want to bring a battery operated fan. This place is a perfect glamping experience for an extended date or weekend in beautiful Tennessee.
This was a pretty campground. Very clean…didn’t go to bathhouse but did see laundry area and bathroom area and it was very clean. Our only complaint was our pull through site. Our slide is on the left side and if opened would have been almost in the road. It was however overlooking the lake.
Very nice campground The owner is so helpful. It was tight but the owner helped us get backed in at 6:30 pm on a Sunday. Very much under priced for what this park is. I’m here for work but would come to have a great get a way. Not many aminities as far as pool and such but super nice level spots. And very quiet
This is your typical military PCS campground for people in transit. No shade! Cement pads to park on. A laundry room, pavilion and showerhouse. There is a dog park and you are off the beaten path. Which makes it a little difficult to find the first time. But when you do your like “Duh! It was right here.” So useful for an overnight if you have a military/retired ID.
Ranger Review: Aftershokz at Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama
Campground Review: First before I get into my review, I am TOTALLY BIAS at Monte Sano SP ! I LOVE this park, the only thing that could make it better is if there was a lake or attached watercourse. The hiking is moderate to extreme up and down some interesting rock formations. The mountain bikers and bikers seem to enjoy themselves too, flying down the closed roadway or the steep roadways and challenging themselves on the rocky terrain. I’ve been several years now and still haven’t gotten around to all the trails. The campground is laid out in two loops and a dirt loop for tent campers. I was in site 19 which was in the way back, unfortunately near a “pond” so a few mosquitoes were about. Otherwise pretty spacious sites. I hung my hammock and could have put up a tent. Pretty quiet though the campground was close to full. The showerhouse has a pay washer and dryer in the front. Older building but well maintained. Coded gate entry and plenty of trail access right from the campground. Some excellent overlooks a cool waterfall hike and an adjacent land grant. I’ve run several trail runs here and you always see something new. I also found ANOTHER excellent hole in the wall restaurant in addition to several others in the area. https://www.poboyfactory.com/ Worth checking out ! Monte Sano SP has so much to do you could easily spend an extended time there and not be bored, unless you want to be. I mentioned water at the start of this review, though there are no water sports within the park there is more then one option available not very far away. Definitely worth visiting again!
Product Review: As a Dyrt Ranger I get to review interesting products. I had the most excellent mission of trying out Aftershokz https://aftershokz.com/pages/technology. I am not a fan of headphones, they don’t fit well in my ears, they are in my ears, I can’t hear anything else, SO I don’t use them. Enter the Aftershokz! Different take on headphonz, on their site you can read about how they work, in laymen terms (my take) the Aftershokz sits on your bone and the vibrations create the sounds that you hear….It makes sense to me but you should read the information on the site, lol. So anyway, nothing in my ear, I can hear what’s going on around me and no worries of them falling out of your ears. I wore my Aftershokz for a trail-race in Monte Sano SP. Once I put them on I pretty much forgot they were there. I could hear my music and hear what what was going on around me. The sound level is adjustable on the headphone. I also checked the reception distance while working in my backyard. I had good sound at about 50 yards without anything in between. Rechargeable, flexible and sweat proof are additional plus’s.
My son Charlie(age 8) and I camped at Cathedral Caverns State Park on June 17, 2019. It was a Monday night. We chose one of the primitive campground sites and paid a little under$20 for one night. Since we were camping we received a discount on our cave tour the next day. It's worth noting that all of the primitive and RV campsites are outside of the state park’s main gates which means that anyone can easily enter or leave the camp at anytime day or night; however, two state employees live fulltime within walking distance of the campsites. It was encouraging to know that help was only steps away if we needed it. One of the rangers actually stopped and introduced himself while making his early evening round. He verified that I had registered at the camp, informed me that it might rain that night, and wished us a good evening. A father and son also drove through the campground about that time in a personal car. I expected him to camp, but later when we went for a walk, we didn’t find him. On our walk we went down to the restrooms gathering kindling in large, reusable grocery bags. We also brought our one gallon water jug. It’s quite a walk to the restroom and unless you are driving, it would be unreasonable to rely on it as your bathroom. Bring a camping toilet or a shovel. The RV sites are right next to the restrooms, which means that if you are in the primitive site it is very unlikely that you will hear RV generators all night. There were no RVs there on our night because the sites were being overhauled and it was closed though the restrooms were still up and running. The restrooms were very clean and spacious with clean, new shower curtains and it was fully stocked with supplies. I can’t say if the water was hot, but my suspicion is that it probably was since the rest of the facility is well kept. Back to the kindling: There’s plenty to be had and we even found four or five logs left by our campsite by a previous camper. Speaking of firewood, there’s plenty of that for sale for a reasonable$10.00 at the restroom facility. Money’s left in a box on the honor system. After cooking two cans of Southgate chili on an improvised Sweedish fire using the charitable camper’s firewood, we played in the field which was easily accessible from the primitive campsite. It’s guarded by a feral but entertaining cat who has an appetite for small rabbits. He almost caught one when he chased it through the campsite and under the picnic table where we happened to be eating supper. I’m not sure if he ever caught him but the last time I saw them they were running through the campsite like the wind. The campsite was simple. There was a fire ring and an old picnic table. You might want to bring a table cloth along or use a tarp if you’re doing more than heating up canned chili. The site was clean as was the entire park. I was easily able to back into the site with a 2007 Trailblazer. Though we had planned on tent camping, we ended up sleeping in the Trailblazer. Dad brought the tent, but he forgot the poles. All of the sites were clean and would have made wonderful tent sites. They were spaced adequately apart to provide a sense of privacy though if you’re pooping in a bucket you might have to be strategic in your temporary John placement. I don’t think my wife would have liked the bathroom situation at all and it might have been a bigger issue for Charlie and me if there’d been anyone else on the campground. We were the sole campers at Cathedral Caverns during our visit. We weren’t the only people using the park though. There were plenty who come to see the cave which true to its name feels like a Cathedral. I’ve been in a few tourist caves but there’s something different about this one. Our tour guide did a great job not only telling us about the beauty and history of the cave, but helped us to imagine one of the caves first explorers and its benefactor Mr, Gurly. If that description doesn’t make you want to visit, here’s this: Legend says there’s a ledge in the cave and if you toss a coin and land it right on the ledge you get your wish. After I tossed my dime I regretted instantly not wishing for a billion instead of a million dollars. I was assured by the tour guide that I could expect my check any day now, so the star review might change depending on how quickly the check rolls in.
We recently stayed in a cabin and it was enjoyable. There were white tail deer everywhere, chipmunks, a tiny ring neck snake on a trail,…Huntsville is very close and a neat little store just in town called Star Supermarket. The park staff were all helpful and friendly.
Tomahawk Primitive Campground is located near Cullman, AL right off of Highway 278. The campground is primitive, and has no electricity or water pumps or hookups at the individual sites, but there is a common room area attached to the back of the owner’s house that has a clean bathroom, a coffee maker, and electricity. There are 3 campsites with fire rings as well as a large, open field at the main campground area, and additional sites by the creek, about a 10 minute walk from the main area. The trail to the creek-side sites was partially cleared, but there were a few fallen trees blocking the path that could make it difficult to carry gear to those sites. My husband, puppy and I stayed at one of the tent sites in the main campground area. If you are staying in a tent, I highly recommend air mattresses for this camp. While the ground has been somewhat cleared, there are still large stocks sticking one or 2 inches out of the ground that would make sleeping without an air mattress very uncomfortable. However, the bigger issue making sleep difficult for us was the road noise from the highway, which stayed busy throughout the night. I assume that if you are in a camper you won’t notice it as much, but in a tent it made us feel like we were camping on the side of the highway and not at a camp. Another problem that we ran into, unfortunately after we set up camp, is that our site had a ton of fire ants. I’m not sure if this is a problem at all of the tent sites or if it was just ours, but I advise caution when choosing your site and where you set up your tent. Our favorite part of this campground was the creek. It was beautiful and clear, perfect for our dog to play in, and had good locations to set up a hammock and enjoy the peaceful creek sounds. If we were to stay at this camp again, we would bring gear that could be hauled to the creek-side campsites.
Gear Review: GCI Outdoor Pod Rocker with Sunshade
As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I sometimes get gear to review on my camping trips. For this trip I got the GCI Pod Rocker with Sunshade camp chair. I LOVE this chair, and so did my husband and dog. The chair comes in a durable carrying case, which is great because I’ve had many camp chair bags fall apart after just a few uses. The chair was a little confusing to set up/take down at first, until I realized that easy-to-follow instructions are attached to the bag. The chair is larger than most camp chairs and provides more support. The sunshade is adjustable and can be moved in several positions as well as completely collapsed. The only complaint that we had about the Pod Rocker is that the included cup holder is a pouch that doesn’t seem like it would actually prevent your drink from spilling. For me, the benefit of having a camp rocking chair far outweighs this one detractor. This chair was wonderful for camping but would also be perfect for outdoor sporting events and concerts. I highly recommend the GCI Pod Rocker with Sunshade! Here is the link for the GCI Pod Rocker with SunShade: https://www.gcioutdoor.com/rockers/pod-rocker-with-sunshade/
We really enjoyed the weekend at Tomahawk Primitive Campground, a veteran owned, private campground, just outside Cullman, AL. As the name suggests, this is primitive camping, so no power or water at the sites, but nothing wrong with boondocking, right?! There are 3 private sites that could handle tents, teardrops, small trailers, or vans, as well as an open field that could hold larger RVs or group camp with multiple tents and/or small trailers. There is also 3 tents sites just a short hike down to the creek at the back of the property where you can camp at your own waterfront site. Each style site is equipped with a fire ring.
The owner has one room in his house blocked off that includes facilities for guests to use and is called the Fest Room. The Fest Room includes a full bathroom with shower that was very clean, a couch and TV (which is a nice place to get out of the elements if the southern weather suddenly turns on you or to just catch an evening movie) , a coffee maker, and a large deck. The deck overlooks a portion of the property and turned out to be a great spot to meet up with other campers or the owner/host and share your camping stories. The deck also includes two gas grills that can be used with permission from the owner.
As mentioned above, the property includes a creek that runs along the property line that was nice to take in, whether sitting on a rock and dipping your feet in the cool water, or hanging a hammock and letting the afternoon slide by with the sounds of flowing water. Our dogs and the host dog, named Bear, loved playing together in the creek!
Wild blackberries were growing all around the property and are starting to get ripe. Picking a hand full of these was a nice addition to our camp breakfast.
We found good cell phone service with Verizon throughout the property.
There is a Dollar General and gas station/convenient store 5 minutes from the property if you need to get any supplies.
While we camped this weekend we also had the opportunity to check out a few of the local attractions. Goat Island Brewery is not too far from the campground and offers up award winning craft beer. We also visited the Ava Maria Grotto at the St. Bernard Abbey, which featured 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous religious structures in the world. A short 25-minute drive south the campground takes you to Mulberry Fork where you can go hiking, tubing, and the site also hosts kayak slalom races in the spring. 5 minutes from the campground is Duck River Dam that has a boat launch and additional hiking trails.
At $15 a night, you can’t beat this to get away from it all for a weekend! The host was very friendly (and the host dog too!) and was an expert outdoorsman who loves to pass on his survival knowledge. We will definitely be back.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campground, I tested the Grub Stick Deluxe Kit.
The deluxe kit, from Grub Stick, is the ultimate 13-piece campfire cooking set that provides endless opportunities to make tasty treats wherever you have a campfire going. With the handles that can extend and retract in length, we found it to be useful as a skewer setup directly on the grill too. Over the weekend, we used many of the attachments to include hotdogs on the Forks, hamburgers in both the Grubcage and Burgcage, bacon on the Grubpocket with the Bacon Clip, and cinnamon rolls using the Grubtube, Grubcage, and Burgcage.
Two items that we had problems with are the Bacon Clip and the Grabber. The Bacon Clip needs to be slightly larger as it is very tight to get on the Grubpocket with standard cut bacon. Maybe it is intended for very thin bacon? We also could only get two slices of bacon on the Grubpocket at a time. The Grabber is a two finger (thumb and index finger) mini mit that was not big enough to use on the Bacon Clip.
The hotdogs and hamburgers turned out great and the Release Tool is very useful for opening the hot cages. Making cinnamon rolls over the campfire is a skill that I will have to continue to practice as we had varying results on this trip.
I like that the kit includes a carrying bag to keep all the components together and can be easily stored in the limited space of our teardrop camper. We also found the recipes on the website to be inspiring and we hope they continue to add more ideas.
While we had some minor difficulties, we look forward to trying to master this set. Next trip we will try s’mores, marshmallows, and toasted starburst!
Some really nice sites on lake and shaded. Inner sites are nice as well and have sewer. Good space between sites. 30 and 50 amp. The old section that was for yearly rental is gone. Big plus because these are nice sites as well. Restrooms and showers were clean but could’ve better. Great place for kayaking and swimming. Roads in park have couple of bad spots but they have been working on them. Need to enforce their dog lease rules. Again Tennessee should update this park. Get with it ! The potential is great.
Has some nice sites. Very well shaded. 30 amp only. The park has great hiking trails. Restrooms were clean. Good fishing areas. There are dogs kept inside a fence at the park. Suppose this is at Rangers house. They bark a lot. Very annoying. Never seen this at a state park. Tennessee needs to update this park.