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Talladega National Forest, ALABAMA
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Most Recent Talladega National Forest Camping Reviews
Totally awesome!

Had to go there while on hurricane evacuation and turned it into a hurricane induced 5 day vacation, best choice ever. Will go there anytime I go through AL. Friendly staff, beautiful park, beautiful pools and splash pad. Right on the river. Close to Birmingham but not too close.

QUICK STOP

Definitely not a resort, but it's a good place to stop over for a night. This campground is literally 2 minutes off the I59 which makes it very convenient. There's a clean pool, a small lake, laundry, and bath house. Driveway is gravel, so it's very dusty. We were in site 24 which is a pull through.

Ranger Review: RovR RollR 60 Cooler at Parksland Retreat

Campground Review: My wife and I had the amazing opportunity to stay at Parksland retreat this weekend making our first campground reservation through the Dyrt. Parksland is a beautiful off the grid campground and home that is well cared for and a wonderful experience to stay at. They have set up several areas for guests depending on what your camping preference is. The owners live at the highest point of the property and have an outdoor kitchen surrounded by a garden and chicken coop with woods in every direction. If you are interested in what would typically be considered classic car camping you can stay at one of the many tent sites they have set up around the kitchen area. Many of these sites already have tents set up for you to rent or if you prefer to bring your own tent you can use one of the other available spots. All of the sites in this area are already covered with large industrial tarps so you can stay dry no matter the weather. If you are interested in a more private area they have two more primitive, trail campgrounds a short hike down the hill that each has cleared ground providing space for several tents. On this trip, we had reserved the further, more private and smaller site but ended up staying at the closer site since it was available and more convenient with the weather conditions. 

We arrived at the campground on Saturday around noon and got a tour around from Dustin the owner where he showed us all of the options. We then climbed down the steep hill with all our gear and set up camp before the rain came in. Since the site was relatively large we were able to find the perfect spot for our tree tent. After a quick lunch of grilled cheese, we headed off to explore the hiking around the area. Dustin suggested we take the Ridgeline loop trail and with only a couple of wrong turns, we managed to complete the loop and finish at the swimming hole. Although the water was cold it still felt wonderful and is a much welcome amenity in the hot and humid Alabama weather. Other than the poison ivy (which you can’t really do anything about) the hike was really scenic and a good afternoon trek. Make sure to take the map though cause it helps to make the turns at the right spots. We got back before the rain began so had time to take advantage of the hot shower they have available and cooked dinner by our fire (firewood is provided). We whipped together a wonderful sweet potato and chili combo with recipe inspiration provided by Fresh off the grid. After dinner, we cleaned up around camp, moved everything under our tent, and climbed in for the night. 

Although we were prepared for the rainstorm that we knew was coming overnight we were not prepared for rain inside our tent… We woke up in the middle of the night with puddles on our sleeping bags and a storm raging outside. Luckily we were able to stay warm and relatively dry but woke up intermittently. In the morning with rain still pouring we decided to just trek back up the hill with the gear and load up the car since we were already wet. We packed everything up and headed on home discussing how even with the crazy weather and unfortunate leakiness we had a fun and adventurous time and were glad we went. 

Overall, Dustin was so welcoming and helpful throughout our entire stay and he has created a wonderful oasis that makes a perfect getaway. I highly suggest checking it out. 

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Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to try out new and interesting products at campgrounds I visit. On this trip, I stored all my food in the RovR RollR 60 Cooler to keep it cold and fresh for the weekend. My takeaways from using the durable rolling cooler are:

  1. Transportability: Although there are now several rollable rotomolded coolers out on the market none are designed with off-road capabilities like the RovR. With large inflatable tires, I was able to go over steps and rocks, move through waterlogged mud, and glide gently over gravel paths with minimal amounts of effort. The cooler is on the heavier side but this was barely noticeable since it is so much more maneuverable than any of the other options. On top of that, it comes with a collapsible gear bin that attaches to the top proving even more space to keep gear that needs to be moved around. Since this campground required a short but steep hike to get to over fairly rough terrain there was no possible way we were getting any other cooler to and from this campsite but with the RovR it took 1 trip. I was able to roll the cooler down all by myself with most of our cooking gear loaded in the bin on top. My wife could then carry down the tent and clothes and we were able to get camp set up much sooner and get to eating lunch. Although I wouldn’t want to backpack with a piece of gear like this (though you probably could) I can’t imagine a camping situation where the RollR 60 wouldn’t succeed in making food transport easier. I also loved the design feature with the handles on the side since I have a tendency to perpetually hit my heels while pulling things directly behind me. 
  2. Temperature Stability: I didn’t get a chance to test this out to an extreme level since we only camped for one night but I did get a general idea of how well this cooler holds its temp. We loaded it up with ice and food on Friday afternoon to save time on Saturday and then unloaded it when we got home on Sunday and about half of the ice was still sitting in the bottom and everything felt like it was coming out of the refrigerator. The ingenious design also features a water runoff area underneath the dry bin so that you don’t have things sitting in a large pool at the bottom. This also ends up surrounding the dry bin with ice cold water turning it into a refrigerator of sorts. 
  3. Dry bin: Speaking of the dry bin this is by far the best design I have seen for organizing a cooler yet. It has two deep sections that sit all the way in the lowest part of the cooler as I mentioned earlier. This was so helpful for 2 reasons. First, the items in the dry bin actually stay cold rather than when the dry bin sits at the top of the cooler in the warmest part making you decide whether you would rather have your frozen items in cardboard packaging either soaking in the water at the bottom or fully thawed in the dry bin at the top. The second amazing thing about this dry bin is that it is deep/tall enough to store items that need to stand straight up. We were able to put things like sour cream and open cans of olives and jalapeños without worry about them falling over when the ice melted. Take a look at the picture I included to see just how much it helped with keeping everything organized. 

Overall, this is by far the best high-end cooler I have had a chance to try out. My wife and I found ourselves continuously impressed and excited about how well this cooler was designed and how much fun it was to use. If you are ready to pull the trigger and spend a little bit to get a nice cooler I can’t recommend the RovR more highly.

I’m not sure if you can camp in their yard....

May need to check this out.

Highest point in Alabama

CCC built an observation tower here in the ‘30s, with nice views. Large lake, hiking and great views. There are several camping loops, with lots of space. Water and electric and full hookups. Also primitive camping, cabins and a lodge with a restaurant. There is a small store & laundry.

Super awesome place!!

This area has so many hiking trails. Trails and waterfalls. This park is the highest point in Alabama. We went MLK weekend it was busy but by Monday we had the campground to ourselves for 4 days. Great trails and waterfalls. Trails are easy to difficult. Bathrooms and showers are separate which was kind of nice to have a whole single room for each shower. Camp store was well stocked. Nearest store was 30-45 min away. Park has a lodge, restaurant, cabins, and a motel. We stayed in upper campground but there is a lower campground closer to the small lake. Alabama is finally putting money back into the parks and remodeling and improving areas. Camp sites are open and some are rocky. The views at the park are amazing!!! This is one of my favorite places!!

Minimalistic, only 8 spots available all set up on a $5 per tent honor box

Great simple campground with a fire pit and grill, 1 table per spot, and a lantern hook. Turnip seed is a first come first serve park, using a $5 per tent honor box. However, if there are no spots available you can easily walk down one of the two trails and find a spot someone has made. This is connected to the Pinhoti Trail, and branches off to the Silent Trail where one can visit The Falls and Devil's Den.

Very enjoyable .

We were there April 25-28, 2019. During Thursday and Friday it was mostly empty. Saturday night it was half full. Peaceful, clean, nice hiking. The State Park just up the road has a small camp store and restaurant if needed. Saw some snakes, evidence of bear. Has access to the Pinhoti Trail. Best for tent and van camping. Maybe a tiny RV.

I‘ve seen Sasquatch

Been tent camping here since 1997 and it continues to get better every visit!

One our favorites

So much to do for kids and adults!!! Great place!!

The nicest campground I’ve ever been.

All camp sites have water and power and fits the needs of most all campers, including Equine campsites

Clean grounds and the largest capacity and spacious individual sites than most

Security in and out frequently.

Kids can run the area and you can see them almost everywhere they go

Quiet and peaceful

Pet friendly and LOTS of activities.

First to Review
Ranger Review: Icemule Pro Cooler at Horse Pens 40 Campground

Campground Review: This is considered the site for the best bouldering in Alabama and is known nationally for its climbing and annual festivals. It is organized as a large spread out, somewhat wooded area with designated campsites around fire pits. When you arrive and check in/pay your camping fee you then drive to pick a site. There is really no privacy for each individual spot but you can find ones that are a little more removed or larger depending on your needs. The campground area is then situated right next to the expansive boulders which you can explore throughout your entire stay. Since this is why people come to Horse Pens 40 it is the focus of the park and therefor the campsites function mostly for the sake of being close to the boulders. I wouldn’t suggest coming here if you aren’t a serious climber and very interested in the bouldering aspect. Since my wife and I are only amateur climbers we found the rocks to be more of a challenge than we were expecting and got pretty worn our very quickly. We also struggled to finish most of the routes. Overall, we did enjoy the trip but found that for our needs which were a relaxing weekend of camping and some easy enjoyable climbing it didn’t fit us so well. I had hoped for a more secluded camping experience and more manageable climbing options. I personally prefer making the little bit further drive from birmingham up to Cherokee Rock Village which provides a superior experience for less cost in my opinion. 

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Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to try out new and interesting products at campgrounds I visit. On this trip, I took along the Icemule Pro Cooler to keep all our food fresh for the weekend. My takeaways from using the soft shelled cooler are:

  1. Transportability: With built in backpack straps and the ability to roll closed and strap everything tight this cooler is the easiest I have ever used to transport cold items while camping. Even just going from car to the site which was no more than a 1-2 min walk would have been miserable with my traditional hard sided cooler packed full with ice and food. The Icemule got tossed on my back freeing up my hands to carry the bag with all our cookware. On another trip we even hiked in to a backcountry campground with the cooler and just loaded it with all of our food and cookware to make transporting everything easier. 
  2. Temperature Stability: I had my doubts that a soft shelled cooler could maintain its temperature anywhere near my hard sided coolers since I have seen how quickly my ice pack melts in my lunch each day. The Icemule Pro managed to surprise me in this regard as well since when we arrived home after 2 full days out in the sun and Alabama hot fall weather all the ice packs were still completely frozen solid. We were able to bring things that needed refrigeration without worrying about storage and without having to lug around the giant cooler. 
  3. Flexibility: Since the cooler is made out of a flexible fabric material this provides two wonderful features. First, it can be rolled up and stored in a small space when not in use. I really appreciated this since we live in a small home and space is always a factor with our gear. Second, when loading the cooler you aren’t limited by the form factor of a rectangular box. We had a lot more ability to squeeze items in where we wanted them and didn’t have any dead corner space. 

Overall, this is an incredibly engineered addition to my gear collection and has already proved useful on multiple camping trips. It had tons of space for a weekend trip, is easy to transport and move around the campsite, and performs incredibly well in its role as a cooler.

Super park, but those bath houses are another story

We've lived in AL most all our 50+ years, but have never camped at this jewel of a park. Checking in was efficient and organized. All the staff was super helpful. Everything was great until we needed to use the facilities. They were clean, for the most part, but so very old and outdated. Why? This park and campground is outstanding - just need to desperately update the bath houses.

Great get away

This place isn’t fancy but it is a military owned campground. With that being said, sure I’ve been to far better places! But for the price it’s totally worth it! You have amazing fishing, and a beautiful lake there! And the boat rentals from the place are literally half the price of any civilian rental place! Yes there are snakes and bugs there…. but you are in the outdoors… soooo it should be expected…best part for me was there was only a few people out there.. I like the quietness when I go camping. I went to a few of the beaches and didn’t see any trash and it seemed clean to me. I say go check it out for your self. A weekend outdoors is always better than a weekend indoors!

Beautiful views

We arrived in March 2019 to be some of the first campers at the newly renovated Lower Campground. If the views are this good her, I cannot imagine what they will be like when the finish the Upper Campground. All sites level and clean. Most have gravel, some have concrete pads. Bathhouse was sparkling clean and well done. Staff was amazing and the ranger stopped by several times to check on us and get feedback. Wonderful, well managed park. Would hope all Alabama Parks are managed as well.

Silly first review by Owner

I camped at Parksland for the first time in the Summer of 2012. Fell in Love and Bought it!

Great campground on Lake Martin

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.

Beautiful views/highest point 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.

Cold and Windy, but Quiet & Relaxing

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.

Clean and lots to do

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!

Close to Birmingham; close quarters

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.

Other Sites

  • 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.

Restrooms

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.

Beautiful park... camp store a little weak

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.

closed

I was trying to go to Birmingham to see the Sloss Furnaces and wanted to stay the night before making it into town but this was closed!!

close to Birmingham attractions

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.

Group Backpacking Site

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.

Keep hiking

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.

Another backcountry site

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.

Backpacking site

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.

RV Site

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.

Classic RV Campground

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.