10 Best Campsites in Alabama

DeSoto State Park camping in Alabama.
DeSoto State Park camping in Alabama. Jake Wheeler
Made Possible by
Curated by

Whether you consider yourself a seasoned veteran or a total newbie when it comes to camping in the state of Alabama, there are many variables to consider when looking for that best spot. Taking into consideration things like nearby attractions, accessibility, and cost can help you figure it out, but choosing the perfect campsite is not always easy.

When it comes to quality outdoor experiences, these 10 unique sites scattered throughout the state aim to please. With everything from bioluminescent insects and hidden waterfalls to white sand beaches and behemoth cave systems, there is something for even the most persnickety campers.

Finding the perfect campsite in the state of Alabama just got a little easier.

1. Caney Creek Falls

The "land of a thousand waterfalls" is a fun place to camp for people who love falling asleep to the sound of rushing water.
The "land of a thousand waterfalls" is a fun place to camp for people who love falling asleep to the sound of rushing water. GRYGRGN

Caney Creek Falls is year-round and spring-fed, which means the water is always flowing. Somewhat of a hidden gem within the larger Bankhead National Forest, the camping here is free, but it’s a 1.5-mile hike to the site. With everything from quiet babbling brooks to thunderous cascading falls, the "land of a thousand waterfalls" is sure to please. Note: the trail gets a little precarious at times so this is best suited to sure-footed hikers and backpackers.

2. Cathedral Caverns State Park

Tour the cave and hike a bit during the day, sleep under the stars at night.
Tour the cave and hike a bit during the day, sleep under the stars at night. Joe Lipson

The cave system, while impressive in its own right, is not the only feature worth visiting while on a trip to Cathedral Caverns State Park. The state park is housed on a 493-acre plot of land that has everything from campsites to hiking trails and more. The campsites offered are of both primitive and developed varieties—they even have backcountry sites that are only accessible by backpacking.

3. Bartram Canoe Trail

You’ll never have to get too far from the water when you camp along the canoe trail.
    Michael Lambert
You’ll never have to get too far from the water when you camp along the canoe trail. Michael Lambert

The Bartram Canoe Trail, a 200-mile canoe-specific trail located in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, is one of the longest and most scenic aquatic trails in the country. Offering paddlers a unique multi-day adventure destination, camping is free along the route and does not require reservation. There are also floating campsites available to visitors in groups of eight or less—a full listing of rules and regulations is available on the website.

4. Dismals Canyon

One of the campsites at Dismal Canyon has its own waterfall.
One of the campsites at Dismal Canyon has its own waterfall. e.c.johnson

This location in the northern reaches of Alabama often falls outside of the collective radar despite the fact that it offers a natural wonder often associated with exotic locations: bioluminescence. The glowworms, known as "Dismalites," put off an eerie blue-green glow—a fun phenomenon if you are camping with kids. Also keep an eye out for the massive Canadian Hemlock trees, towering up from the canyon floor, and thought to be some of the largest in the entire state. There are several primitive campsites spread out around the area—they are available on weekends starting in March, and seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Visit the website for more information (reservations required).

5. Cheaha State Park

Relax by the water in the Cheaha Wilderness.
Relax by the water in the Cheaha Wilderness. Alan Cressler

"Cheaha" translates to “high place” in the native Creek language, which makes sense given that the mountain plateaus at just over 2,400 feet. The views here are perfect for photography, contemplation, and relaxing getaways. Another wonderful feature at Cheaha State Park is the sheer number of options available for camping—there are primitive sites, semi-primitive, improved, a group site, and pet-friendly options—which makes planning an overnight a snap. A map shows a possible route that will lead to the true “peak” of the mountain in blue.

6. DeSoto State Park

There is so much to do at DeSoto State Park, you’ll definitely want to stay more than just one night.
    Jake Wheeler
There is so much to do at DeSoto State Park, you’ll definitely want to stay more than just one night. Jake Wheeler

A thunderous 104-foot waterfall is the main attraction at this state park, named after Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. With more than 25 miles of hiking trails and 11 miles of mountain biking trails, there are plenty of activities available to visitors after checking out the many waterfalls at this location. DeSoto State Park has both primitive campsites and 94 modern campsites.

7. Oak Mountain State Park

Double Oak Lake at Oak Mountain State Park.
Double Oak Lake at Oak Mountain State Park. Shannon McGee

Oak Mountain is by far the largest state park in the state of Alabama. It’s a maximalist’s paradise, with just about everything imaginable to accommodate visitors. Kid-friendly petting zoos, an 18-hole golf course, canoe rentals, and even equestrian-specific campsites are available at this popular destination. There are also a few backcountry sites tucked away in the woods if you seek a bit of solitude.

8. Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

Tannehill Ironworks is the park to visit if you’re a history buff.
Tannehill Ironworks is the park to visit if you’re a history buff. Rain0975

With more than 1,500 acres set aside specifically for camping, hiking, mountain biking, birding, and similar activities, this is a must-see destination. Check out the gristmill, country store, blacksmith, or any other of a long, long list of possible sights, sounds, tastes, and smells. This park is particularly well-suited to history buffs seeking the often sordid and spooky artifacts from Southern States.

9. Deerlick Creek Park

Deerlick is home to a variety of flora and fauna—it’s a wonderful family destination.
Deerlick is home to a variety of flora and fauna—it’s a wonderful family destination. Tim Evanson

One of the often-overlooked gems of the greater Tuscaloosa area, Deerlick Creek Park is nestled on the shores of Holt Lake and offers the unique quietude only found in locations less traveled. Keep an eye out for the 17 state-specific variety of flora, from red maple to loblolly pine, and wildlife such as deer and wild turkeys. The lake is also home to bass, crappie, bream, and catfish, so if you enjoy fishing, bring your rod. There are more than 40 campsites at the park, all with electric and water hookups.

10. Gulf State Park

Relax at the beach, go for a hike, or hop on your bike at Gulf Shores.
Relax at the beach, go for a hike, or hop on your bike at Gulf Shores. Ken Ratcliff

If white sand is what you are seeking while traveling to the southern coast, look no further than Gulf Shores, Alabama. This small town is situated along a tendril-like stretch of land just east of Mobile Bay and offers unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico. It also contains Gulf State Park, which offers campers everything from hiking trails and zip-lines to bike paths and alligator-populated inlets. Gulf State Park has almost 500 campsites, with everything from primitive options to fancier cabins.

Originally written for BCBS of AL.

Last Updated:

Next Up