Alabama’s state parks system is arguably one of the best in the country so picking 7 memorable spots to get outside in North Alabama is tricky. However, after much debate I decided on these 7 spots.
There are so many more and I don’t think you’ll go wrong at anywhere. The diversity and beauty of the state’s natural resources offer the perfect backdrop for some really great locations.
From scenic to recreation areas, the Alabama park system offers access to an amazing collection of state parks.
Once off the Interstate, there is a world of adventure awaiting visitors. Whether you prefer chasing waterfalls or stalking bass, exploring caverns or climbing peaks, mountain biking or paddle boating,
North Alabama’s state parks have a spot for you. Take a look at this diverse list, find your favorite and get outside and explore!
Like waterfalls? Be sure to check out our North Alabama waterfall guide and don’t miss the story of Alabama’s Littlefoot.
7 Memorable Spots To Get Outside in North Alabama
Buck’s Pocket State Park
After a renovation to its facilities, Buck’s Pocket State Park reopened in summer of 2021 with a renovated campground and a new ORV (Off-Road Vehicles) trail.
This is a family-friendly destination for campers, off-road enthusiasts and vacationers looking to get off the grid. The campground features 23 full hook-up RV campsites with picnic table, fire pit and grill.
There are also 11 primitive campsites in the campground and plans are underway for additional rustic and back-country campsites.
The park has 15 miles of hiking trails and stunning vistas from a 1,000-foot scenic overlook which offers canyon-rim views of the state park below.
Rickwood Caverns State Park
Rickwood’s claim to fame is its miracle mile of underground caverns!
The 260-million-year-old limestone formations, blind cave fish and underground pool are just a few of the natural wonders found in the cavern. The park features an Olympic-size swimming pool, snack bar, picnic area and hiking trails.
Campers can choose from 13 full hook-up sites and five primitive tent sites. The caverns themselves were water-formed during the Mississippian period more than 260 million years ago and still contain active “living formations,” as mineral-laden water droplets build colorful structures and flow stones.
Cathedral Caverns State Park
The stalagmite forest and frozen waterfall are the classic views at Cathedral Caverns.
The cave, which maintains a 60-degree temperature all year long, has a huge opening that measures 126 feet wide and 25 feet high. Human habitation can be traced back 8,000 years in the cave.
It is home to one of the largest stalagmites in the world measuring 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference. Outside the cave the park offers gemstone mining, an activity for any age, but especially popular with younger visitors.
Beyond that, the park encompasses 493 acres with hiking trails and improved campsites along with primitive tent camping areas.
De Soto State Park
DeSoto State Park is situated atop scenic Lookout Mountain in Northeast Alabama and is known for its many rushing waterfalls and fragrant wildflowers.
The park provides an array of lodging options, including a motel, log cabins, rustic cabins and mountain chalets. Along with 94 full hook-up campsites, there are primitive camping sites as well as two back-country campsites with shelters.
Other amenities include a full-service restaurant, pavilions, picnic area with playground, swimming pool, a nature center, Civilian Conservation Corps Museum and more than 25 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails.
Joe Wheeler State Park
The centerpiece of this 2,500-acre park is 69,700-acre Wheeler Lake, which offers easy access to the Tennessee River and is popular with sailors, cruisers and anglers.
Each fall the park hosts the Fall Rendezvous of boaters traveling the Great Loop, welcoming as many as 250 vessels. There is a plethora of amenities at this park, including a three-story lodge of redwood and stone with 75 hotel rooms and a restaurant.
There is also a marina, boat launch, boat rentals, day-use pavilions and picnic areas and an 18-hole championship golf course. The approximately 10 miles of trail include areas for hikers, bikers and birders.
In addition to the lodge, there are full hook-up and primitive camping sites, lakeside cabins and rustic cottages.
Lake Guntersville State Park
This is a 6,000-acre park located along the shore of Lake Guntersville. A lodge, chalets, motel and convention center are situated on a 500-foot bluff overlooking the lake. Lake activities are popular here and include swimming, fishing and boat rentals.
But the fun goes well beyond the water, with 36 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, an 18-hole golf course and The Screaming Eagle Aerial Adventures zipline course.
This is also home to the Eagle Awareness Program, which offers eagle viewing field trips, seminars and special programs each January and February.
The park’s campground includes 295 improved campsites and a primitive camping area. There are also 15 traditional lakeside cabins and new camper cabins for RVers.
Monte Sano State Park
Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Huntsville, Alabama, Monte Sano State Park is a respite atop Monte Sano Mountain. The 2,140-acre park has vistas, mountaintop trails, family picnic areas and an 18-hole disc golf course.
It is a popular spot for mountain bikers and hikers, with 22 miles of trails, varying in both scenery and difficulty. The park offers 14 renovated (but rustic) cabins perched on the mountainside.
They are a testament to the park’s history, which is revealed at the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum on-site. Additionally, there are 89 improved campsites and a primitive camping area for overnight guests.
This is also home to the Wernher von Braun Planetarium and the North Alabama Japanese Garden.