Birding in Gulf State Park

Gulf Coast Adventures Along Alabama's Coastal Connection - National Scenic Byway

Stretching 130 miles along the Gulf Coast, the Coastal Connection Scenic Byway is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the Alabama coast. 

Explore nature, history, and adventures along Alabama’s Coastal Connection Scenic Byway stretching more than 130-miles along the Gulf of Mexico. The byway connects many scenic coastal towns, including Bayou La Batre, Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Elberta, Foley, Magnolia Springs, Fairhope, and Daphne.

Alabama's Coastal Connection Scenic Byway provides opportunities to connect with nature, the past, the land and sea, and most importantly, each other. There's even an audio tour to enhance your explorations and provide interesting facts along the way.

Gulf State Park

One major highlight of the byway is Gulf State Park. The park's 6,000 acres of pristine coastline and wildlife refuge include more than 28 miles of paved hiking, biking, and birding paths along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. You might spy a white-tailed deer grazing on foliage or spot an alligator basking in the sun. There are three learning centers located within the park for visitors to learn more about ecotourism, preservation, and the park's wildlife. These locations offer hands-on experiences and learning opportunities and guided nature walks, beach walks, pier walks, and other educational programs. If you're looking to cast your line, the fishing opportunities are abundant at Gulf State Park, with 900 acres of scenic freshwater lakes and the second largest pier on the Gulf. At the center of the park is Lake Shelby, which is perfect for swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking.

Explore the history of Orange Beach at the Indian & Sea Museum  and learn about our local Indian heritage, visit the original schoolhouse, browse through artifacts from the Civil War and learn how the shrimping industry got its start. And while in Orange Beach, grab a bite to eat at The Wharf

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Paddle through Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge for an up-close look at colorful migratory birds and natural shorelines. You'll find multiple trails that provide visitors with the opportunity to explore the various ecosystems throughout the refuge. A few trails also feature boat launches for canoes, kayaks, and boats with electric motors. While out on the water, you might even spot some playful dolphins popping up to say hello. 

At historic Fort Morgan, brush up on your Civil War history and admire breathtaking views of the Gulf. Here, you'll learn about the significant role this masonry fort played during wartime and get a first-hand look at its evolution and adaptations throughout the years. While visiting Fort Morgan, you can also enjoy the area's natural beauty with the trails, bird watching areas, and beaches nearby.

Dauphin Island Estuarium

​A short ferry ride across Mobile Bay puts you steps away from the Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, the fourth largest estuary system in the U.S. Enjoy the educational and informative exhibit hall, the stingray touch pool, and the scenic, living marsh boardwalk while learning about the more than 100 local species of plants and animals on display. At the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, you can stroll 137 acres of forest, marsh, and dune habitats, home to 420 different species of native and migrating birds.

Our coast's natural beauty and rich history can easily be found along Alabama's Coastal Connection Scenic Byway. With so many opportunities to connect with the environment and learn about the area, you won't want to miss out on visiting these great spots along Alabama's beaches. So whether you're looking to bike, hike, learn, kayak, or just explore, you'll find plenty of adventure on Alabama's Coastal Connection Scenic Byway.​

START PLANNING YOUR GULF SHORES & ORANGE BEACH VACATION

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