At Alabama's State Parks
The folks at Alabama State Parks want you to know that you might stay close to home this summer and still take a four-day, three-night vacation with your family.
Best of all, the cost of several of these getaways could start at just $300 per family.
Trip One -- Enjoy Bass Fishing and Golf at Joe Wheeler State Park
Approximately 50 miles west of Huntsville, AL, and 27 miles east of Florence, AL, Joe Wheeler State Park combines the traveler's love of water pursuits with golf.
Water activities include paddle boating and fishing. Boat rentals are available for $40 for a half day; call 256-247-6971.
Paddle boats (shown at left*) are another fun family activity. Available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the paddle boats rent for $8 for an hour’s ride. They seat up to a family of four.
Joe Wheeler has good bass fishing. You'll need an annual freshwater fishing license available for $12; order it at www.alabamainteractive.org/dcnr/license/index.cgi or call 888-848-6887.
Alternatively, your family might spend a full day hiking on the park's numerous trails. For more details on trails, visit www.alapark.com/GulfState/Trails.
Golfers will enjoy the 18-hole championship golf course (shown at right*). The course was designed by Earl Stone, set amid rolling hills along the river.
Green fees are an affordable $25 for the 18-holes, with a golf cart ($15 without the cart) or $15 for nine holes with the cart ($10 without the cart).
Why not stay overnight?
Priced at $63 nightly for up to four people, park cabins are located on the south side of the Tennessee River near Wheeler Dam. (One of the rental cabins is shown at left.*)
The park's boat dock is located here as well. (One of the cabins is shown at right.*)
For information on Joe Wheeler State Park, call 256-247-5466 or visit www.alapark.com/JoeWheeler.
TRIP TWO: Get Away to the Beach at Gulf State Park’s Cabins
Catch a wave or sink your toes into coastal sands. Just drive on Interstate 65 South to Exit 287 for a mile, then continue on Alabama 59 South for 50 miles. Turn left onto Alabama 180 East at Fort Morgan Road to Gulf State Park. It’s $5 a car to visit the park for the day -- including its beach.
Visitors might opt for a round of golf on the 18-hole golf course, with daily fees at $34 per person.
A 900-acre lake is a popular fishing spot; if you book a cabin stay you don't pay to use the park.
The required annual state freshwater fishing license is $12; visit www.alabamainteractive.org/dcnr/license/index.cgi for license information.
Other park activities include swimming, water skiing, nature programs and picnicking for 50 cents a child and $1 per adult at the swimming/picnic area.
The park's cabins on Lake Shelby rent for $125 a night, with two bedrooms and one bath.
Alternatively, a small wood-side cabin is $85 a night.
The cabins have use of a private pier (shown at right*) and a new, free playground for young children
For details on park accommodations, call 251-948-7726 or visit www.alapark.com/parks/park.cfm?parkid=22
TRIP THREE: Stay at a Rustic Mountain Lake Lodge at Lake Guntersville State Park
Another getaway option -- in northeast AL -- is to drive scenic U.S. 431 or U.S. 79 to the Tennessee River basin of the 6,000-acre Lake Guntersville State Park in Guntersville.
A $25 million, four-year-long renovation project has revitalized the park's lodge; the newly renovated facility opened in January. (The back of the lodge is shown at left.*)
Known for its mountain beauty and wildlife, the park is also close to the artsy town of Guntersville, AL, just four miles away. Guntersville is popular for antiquing and shopping.
Within the park, accommodations range from camp sites to deluxe lodge suites.
Activities? You might rent a canoe for $15 for half a day or an aluminum boat for $15 for a half day.
A range of short "doable" hikes are another option. A guided interpretive hike is available on Saturdays at 9 a.m.; call 256-571-5445 for details.
On site, park goers may eat breakfast for an average of $5 per person. Lunch averages $6 per person and dinner at the salad bar is $6 per person. All children’s meals average $5.
Room at the park's hotel are $100 nightly. Or, you might book one of the cabins for $125 a night; the cabins, which are located within the park's woodlands, accommodate up to six people.
For park information, call 256-571-5440 or visit www.alapark.com/LakeGuntersville.
TRIP FOUR: Hike Trails or Rent Paddle Boats at Cheaha State Park
If you drive west on Interstate 20 in central Alabama to Anniston, exit at U.S. 431 and drive southeast to State Road 281, you'll soon find yourself in Cheaha State Park.
Inside the Talladega National Forest of western Alabama, Cheaha State Park is home to the Cheaha Trailhead of the Pinhoti Trail. These extended trails eventually connect into the Appalachian Trail.
Take advantage of hiking at the park; access trails like the Odum Scout Trail or the Chinnabee Silent Trails (with some amazing waterfalls - one shown above*) are popular.
The Pulpit Rock Trail is a moderate hike. Pulpit Rock is a quartzite rock facing where many guest come to rappel or just bask in the view.
Families will enjoy the park's paddle boats; rentals are $5 a person for 30 minutes. Jon boats are available at $10 for four hours.
Fishing at Lake Cheaha (the lake is shown in the background at left*) requires an annual freshwater fishing license, costing $12. Again, you may order a fishing license at www.alabamainteractive.org/dcnr/license/index.cgi or call 888-848-6887.
Cabins for four people rent for $100 a night. A double hotel room is priced at $74 nightly. Overnight guests may swim at the hotel pool.
For park information, call 800-846-2654 or 256-488-5115. Or, visit www.alapark.com/parks/feature.cfm?parkid=7&featureid=15.
*Photos are owned, copyrighted and used courtesy of Alabama State Parks. All rights reserved. Please do not link to nor copy these photos. Thank you.