One with Nature at Gulf State Park
Gulf State Park is taking on a whole new look and feel of its own as The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel, recently opened. Upon entering the lodge, I was literally taken back to a nature lover’s paradise. Located along the beach, a sustainable environment is created by planting native species for bird habitats, nesting sea turtles and the Alabama beach mouse. The Alabama Gulf Coast is home to many birds and the floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the main lobby even have bird-friendly safety measures within their design. Connectivity to the outdoors is a central focus of The Lodge.
Just steps from The Lodge is the Gulf State Park Interpretive Center, a sustainable facility that is one of only 16 certified Living Buildings in the world. The Interpretive Center is a hub of eco-education and offers indoor and outdoor exhibits and educational opportunities to families to learn about the beach’s unique ecosystem. The center also connects to the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail system and Lake Shelby via an elevated pedestrian bridge. It has never been easier to enjoy nature than it is now along the beaches of Alabama.
It has been fun to watch Gulf Shores and Orange Beach bring more awareness to eco-tourism, as it encourages visitors like myself to dive in, learn and explore the area’s natural surroundings and habitats. Just as the cities are making strides to protect and enhance the beaches, it’s also up to visitors to embrace change and do our part to help implement those changes. I know I sure have found my space along the Alabama coastline, as I love the clean beaches and being able to enjoy nature.
How to Do Your Part for the Beach’s Future
1. Learn and use the Leave Only Footprints beach usage rules.
2. Visit the Gulf State Park Interpretive Center and learn about the strides in sustainability.
3. Learn how to protect Alabama’s nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings.