the dyrt
THE BEST CAMPING NEAR
Talladega National Forest, ALABAMA
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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.

Backpacking near Birmingham

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.

Great camping near Birmingham

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.

In a pinch

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.

Ranger Review: ROM Pack at Blue Mountain Shelter

Campground Review:

Since I have reviewed many of the backpacking routes in the Cheaha area I would first recommend taking a look at some of the other campground reviews in this area. This shelter is actually along a new trail for me where the Pinhoti heads North from the Cheaha Trailhead on 281. The parking lot has a beautiful entrance archway then heads away from the road before splitting. Take your first right then when the trail splits again take another right. I have a video attached showing the turns. You then continue for about .5 miles before crossing back over the road and following the ridge for a while. After going a little more than 2 miles you will reach a sign that directs you to the shelter. You can’t miss the wooden structure a few yards down the path.

Most of the camping along the Pinhoti is classic semi-flat backcountry sites with a small fire pit and not much else. So when we came across this amazing shelter we were thoroughly impressed. It has a large area on the first floor where you could set up several sleeping bags and then there is an additional closed off area in the loft that is dark and dingy but very clean and perfect if the weather is ugly. The site also has a HUGE firepit which seemed a little overkill but could be nice if you have a large group. Finishing off the amenities is a picnic table and several cleared out tent areas. Make sure to check out my video to get a full idea of how this site is set up and if it would be a good place for you to stay.

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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 tried out the RoM Pack. My takeaways from using the combo backpack, poncho, picnic blanket are:

  1. The backpack works incredibly well for what it is designed to do. If you are going to be carrying your things somewhere where you will then unpack and hang out for a while this piece of gear does exactly what you need. It held all the items we needed for the day of hiking including a hammock, water bottles, food, and small items (phone, wallet, keys, etc.) and still had plenty of internal space to spare. When we arrived at the campground we set up and unpacked then took apart the backpack so that we could use the blanket to sit on. I can imagine in the future this pack also being very useful for keeping in the car when any one of its uses might come up.
  2. It is very comfortable to hike with. I found the strap design and layout to fit comfortably on my chest. They are highly adjustable for different sized individuals. The one criticism I had of the straps is that the cross chest straps are a little too long and I had trouble getting it tight enough since I am a relatively small person. Overall though I didn’t have much shifting around while hiking.
  3. Included with a backpack was a small drawstring bag that is designed to fit inside the larger pack and hold your gear when using the pack as a poncho or blanket. I found this to work ok but felt it was a little unnecessary since anytime I would plan to take about the pack I would want to be at my final destination where I would be ok just taking out my gear.

Overall, I would say this pack has a few very specific applications and it performs really well for all those situations. Worth checking out if you want to have a multipurpose backup bag in the car or are often in a situation where you are hiking in to picnic locations.

Good value for the money

Lots of campsites, fishing, pavillions and bath houses. Sites for tents and RV's. Conveniently located near Alexander City in case you forgot anything. Loaded with activities for the whole family, fishing, water sports, hiking, geocaching, or just relaxing in the shade, this place has pretty much everything.

Cheaha State Park: Absolutely Amazing!

A few weeks back, I had a few days off during the week and decided to make a quick trip up for a few days of camping. After viewing some of the campsites online and reading a few reviews on here, I decided to stay at a semi-primitive site inside the park. My initial concern was the location of the semi-primitive sites, as they were located right off the road. However, I found that this wasn't much of an issue since I was the only one in that entire area for 90% of my trip.

I arrived on a Sunday afternoon and quickly set up my site. Each one features a stone fire ring, a picnic table, and a space to park right next to your campsite. Restrooms are located a short walk up the road and are attached to a large covered pavilion with plenty of picnic tables and a large stone fireplace on each end. The restrooms were clean and well maintained, but do not contain shower facilities on the semi-primitive loop. There are showers available in the RV section of the park, but they would require driving (or a long walk) to reach them. Select sites have outlets or water spigots at the road.

Unlike Oak Mountain, which is centrally located and a short driving distance from pretty much everything, Cheaha State park is pretty isolated. Unless you plan on eating at the restaurant or getting small items from the park store, you'd need to bring any food or other items you may need.

When making reservations online, you can view each campsite and read a brief description for each one. Some of the semi-primitive sites are really small and close to the road, so I highly recommend viewing each site when making your online reservations to make sure you get something that suits your needs.

Basically, this place is great! There's plenty to do and as always, the online registration process was quick and easy. The views along the Pinhoti are amazing and the waterfalls were quiet and relaxing. In the early morning hours, deer would wander thru the campsites and I saw tons of interesting wildlife while out on the trails. If you're a mountain biker, the Cheaha Express trail head is right up from the semi-primitive area, and the Pinhoti trailhead is only a half mile from the campground. All in all, it's definitely worth the trip.

Scenic

This place is beautiful! Well kept, safe, but still way out in the open and with an incredible natural feel. Waters great too

Lake, Hiking, Rock Climbing - Family Friendly

Wind Creek is a big, busy campground located right on the shores of Martin Lake outside of Alexander City. There is a ton to explore from canoeing and kayaking to hiking and rock climbing. We would definitely visit this campground again!

Beautiful views and lots of options

This is a great campsite for anyone who wants to check out this amazing peak but doesn’t have an interest in backpacking. They have many options including cabins and villas as well as RV sites and tent only. There are also several trails that leave right from the campground and some easy walks to beautiful views. This is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Alabama and one of my favorite to visit.

RV Site

Open space RV site with places to park and hookup and an office where you can check in and pay for your site. They have a range of sites and a nice atmosphere. Much better option than those down the road. It is also very close to the Talladega National Forest and lots of great hiking so worth checking out if you are driving through the area with an RV.

First to Review
Classic Talladega RV site

This is another RV site for people coming to watch races at the speedway. As a typical tent camper I wouldn't stay here but it seems to have nice amenities if you are traveling in an RV. They are also very close to the highway and near the raceway so it would be a good option if those are concerns. Overall check out my video of the sites for more details.

Well kept, beautiful, family fun

We went to Oak Mountain for a boy scout weekend camping trip. They have a bmx trail, nice places to fish and swim, shower houses, walking trails, you are able to build campfires. Our scouts and parents had so much fun.

Great city park

The campground is a little tight but the amenities make up for it. The site was level with good utilities. Good WiFi and cable tv. The adjoining park and trail was great.

Camping High Amongst The Clouds

I arrived at this campsite earlier in the day and was a little worried because it was so foggy I couldn't see but a few feet in front of me. It was dismal and being in the primitive loop I was doubtful that getting my site would be pleasurable at all. I was there during the week following Labor Day Weekend so there was NO ONE camping and I was basically told to find the site which suited me best.

I found a place located in the trees a bit and decided to explore a bit before setting up. I first combed the watch tower which was a really neat place, but because it was midweek the interpretive center was not open. The views were limited and again I was discouraged. I decided to go toward one of the trails, the ADA boardwalk toward the bald and everything opened up and changed the face of everything!!

As the fog lifted it was beautiful, one of the highest points in the state and you could see everything for miles and miles around. Every bit of discouragement I had lifted and I soon settled into my site for a great stay.

The camp space I selected was considered semi-primitive which meant it was close to fresh water and bath houses. They are located in the first camping loop and have clear roads which are wide enough to pull and RV but perfect also for tent campers. For only $18 I found this to be a great place to call home for the evening.

TIPS:

  • Try this site on a weekday or an off season. The lodge and restaurant are still open and very close to camp, but you can also enjoy camping with very few others around you.
  • Check out the trails. If you stop at the registration they will provide you with a map, don't just try the hard ones try the easy ones too because they have some very nice features such as information stations along the way.
  • Watch out for deer!! They roam free so make sure you keep your eyes open and drive at a slow pace.
Great camping experience

This is a gem right in the Birmingham area! Oak Mountain is located in the suburbs of Birmingham, but it's surrounded by a vast natural area and a huge lake. I camped right on the lake and it was the perfect place for a midnight swim!

Great place to camp lots of things to do!

This campground was a great place to get away! There are a lot of tent sites that are back in the woods for quiet and solitude. The swimming area and dock were a short walk from our campsite. The kids loved it. There are many beautiful trails for hiking. We did the hike to peavine falls! Beautiful!

Great SP

We love going to Oak Mountain SP when we are close to Birmingham! Beautiful and peaceful!

Love Wind Creek

We love camping at Wind Creek. lots to do for the kiddos!