From Segway tours and biking trails to impressive camping spots, there are so many epic things you don’t want to miss at Gulf State Park.
I spent 20 years as a state park ranger, and I must tell you this park blows my mind every time we visit. How can you go wrong with sugar-sand beaches, fishing from the pier, biking and hiking trails, and epic sunsets? And those are just a couple of the amazing must-see things.
Gulf State Park Pier
Whether you’re looking for a fishing spot or a place to watch the sunset, the Gulf State Park Pier is a great site to catch amazing views and fish. You can enjoy the local wildlife hanging out along the rails and feel the coastal breeze as you watch for feathered friends. There are 2,448 feet of railing, and the pelicans are happy to take up a foot or two. Keep an eye out for dolphins and other marine life in the Gulf, too. If you have always wanted to learn about fishing but are not sure how to start, check out the Angler Academy held at Gulf State Park Pier.
The pier is currently closed for construction but will be reopening later this year.
Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
If you are looking to get away from it all and explore the park, then the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is perfect. With more than 28 miles of paved trails, you can bike or hike and enjoy the beautiful Gulf Shores weather. If you don't have a bike, you can take advantage of the park's free bike-sharing program. Be sure to look for Lefty, the resident alligator and other creatures in the park while you’re out exploring! While you’re in the trials, stop by Woodside, a relaxing restaurant that offers a variety of unique southern dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a great spot to recharge and grab a bite to eat in the park.
For a truly immersive experience, you don’t want to miss camping in the Gulf State Park Campground. This is not your typical state park campground. Here, you will find a pool, nature center, movie nights, pathways to Lake Shelby and the beach, and more! Plus, there are RV hookups and great showers/restrooms within the park. If you’re looking to really escape into the natural wonders of the park, consider staying at The Outpost. This primitive camping spot includes campsites with raised, canvas-covered shelters with front porches and cots. Of all the campgrounds I’ve been in as a park ranger, this is one of the best.
If camping is not quite your thing, but you love the idea of waking up in Gulf State Park, don’t miss Eagle Cottages! These cottages were recognized by National Geographic as one of the unique lodges of the world. You can wake up with an epic view of the beautiful Lake Shelby and easy access to the trials. The cottages offer space to relax and unwind while enjoying your trip to Gulf Shores.
Those who want a room with a beach view will love The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel. This newly renovated hotel sits right on the white-sand beaches of Gulf Shores. At the Lodge, you’ll find outdoor terraces, boardwalks to the beach, a pool and easy access to the trails. Two restaurants, Perch and Foodcraft, as well as Roasted Oak, a coffee and wine bar, are located in the hotel and offer great meals and amazing views of the water.
I don’t know of many state parks that offer beaches like Gulf State Park does. You can sink your toes in soft sand and soak in the gorgeous weather. There are multiple beach accesses within the park, but The Pavilion is an ideal place for public beach access. Gulf State Parks Pavilion features air-conditioned restrooms, private showers, a snack bar, and shaded areas to eat and cool off. Whether you want a quiet secluded beach spot or want to be in the middle of all the fun and games, you’ll find the perfect spot at Gulf State Park’s beaches.
One cool way to explore Gulf State Park is on a Segway Tour with Coastal Segway Adventures. No need to worry if you’ve never been on a Segway before. Each tour starts with a class on how to maneuver the Segway safely and what you will see in the park. You’ll travel through multiple ecosystems while your guide navigates you through the paved trails in the park.
Nestled right in the center of the park is the mesmerizing Lake Shelby. This 900-acre freshwater lake is ideal for water activities such as kayaking, swimming, fishing, and jet skiing. The lake’s recreation area features picnic tables and pavilions, perfect for an afternoon lunch by the water.
When it comes to outdoor fun you can’t go wrong spending the day at Gulf State Park! Pack your sunscreen and reusable water bottles, and get ready for a great day in the park! Book a place to stay nearby today.