Primitive Campsites at Gulf State Park

Pitch a Tent for a Rustic Beach Vacation

It’s no secret the Alabama Gulf Coast offers one of the best escapes to the great outdoors.

Rustic Camping at The Outpost in Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores

Visitors flock to the area for white-sand beaches, exciting water sports, fresh seafood and breathtaking sunsets. And there’s no better place to be at one with nature than camping among the more than 6,100 acres that make up Gulf State Park. The 496-site campground features sites overlooking Middle Lake, tucked among the trees and along the open field. The campground also offers 11 air-conditioned bathhouses, a camp store, laundry facilities, a swimming pool with a splash pad, tennis/pickle ball courts, horseshoes, volleyball, lots of family-friendly activities and a nature center.

Pitching a tent at these sites includes access to water and electric hook-ups (as well as sewer for those in RVs and campers), plus a picnic table and pedestal grill. For those wanting something a little more natural, check out the park’s 11 new primitive sites that come with campfire rings, grill tops and picnic tables. Affording visitors a little more privacy, these sites are hidden among the trees along a creek. Campers at these sites do have access to the bathhouses, playgrounds and laundry facilities.

However, if you want a truly rustic Gulf Shores camping vacation, check out the  Outpost Campsites along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. Located 1.5 miles in from the Cotton Bayou Trailhead, these three sites – known as The Alamo, Bonanza and The Duke – feature four cots in pitched tents on a wooden platform. There’s even a canvas covered “porch” for each tent where guests can relax out of the sun.

Amenities at these sites are limited to a communal sink for washing dishes, a port-a-potty and a fire ring with grill top surrounded by log benches. Campers will need to pack in everything else they need, and they’ll need to pack out all refuse. Stripped down to the most basic camping experience, these sites are ideal for enjoying a true back-to-nature experience along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

You don’t have to stray far from any of the campsites in Gulf State Park to find a fun, natural activity.

The Nature Center at Gulf State Park

Within the park, you can enjoy the following:

  • Run, walk or bike the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. More than 27 miles comprised of 15 trails take you through six different and distinct ecosystems, ensuring you experience something a little bit different everywhere you go. The Backcountry Trail not only offers a fun way to see the park, but also connects the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
  • Seek out hidden treasure while geocaching through the park. There are numerous caches that are perfect for individuals or families, beginners to experts. Try the Geocaching app which offers both a free and a paid version.
  • The Nature Center at Gulf State Park offers a full schedule of educational programs including guided nature walks, animal encounters, beach walks and more. A living museum of sorts, the Nature Center is a great place to make that connection between taking care of the environment and preserving the natural world.
  • Take part in any number of beach activities, ranging from parasailing and kayaking to paddleboarding and ziplining. Shore fishing has also become a popular pastime as well as sand castle building with expert classes available through Sand Castle University.
  • See if you can land the “big one” while fishing in saltwater off the Gulf State Park Pier or in freshwater at Lake Shelby.
  • Kick back in your beach chair to catch some rays or splash in the surf along the Alabama Gulf Coast for a lazy day absorbing the scenery.
  • Cook at least one meal over an open campfire. You’ll also want to add a stop of one of the restaurants available at The Lodge at Gulf State Park as well. A good mix of both campfire meals and dining out is the perfect balance.

As you can see, regardless of where you pitch your tent – on a site with a few modern conveniences or none at all – you will still have an amazing vacation along the Alabama Gulf Coast.


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