Discover the Most Sprawling College Campus in Alabama

Written by Justin Zipprich
Updated: October 28, 2023
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Key Points

  • The University of Alabama is the largest college campus in Alabama, spanning 1,970 acres with 297 buildings.
  • Located in Tuscaloosa, the city has a large manufacturing base and a population of just under 100,000 people.
  • The campus is home to famous landmarks such as the Alabama Museum of Natural History and the Paul W. Bryant Museum.
  • The wildlife in Tuscaloosa County includes a variety of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
  • The campus is also surrounded by diverse flora native to the area.

The great state of Alabama is known for southern hospitality, beautiful Gulf Coast beaches, and college institutions. Locals pride themselves on their education, and if you want to learn at the most sprawling college campus in Alabama, look no further than the University of Alabama. We’ll tell you all about this incredible university, what makes it so great, and a little about the wildlife in the area.

What Makes the University of Alabama the Largest Campus?

You can use numerous metrics to determine the most sprawling college campus in the state. In this case, we’re going by land area. The largest college campus in Alabama is the University of Alabama, at 1,970 total acres.

Where is the University of Alabama?

The most sprawling college campus in Alabama is located in Tuscaloosa, which itself has a large population of just under 100,000 people as of the 2020 census. Unlike many other of the largest colleges, the city of Tuscaloosa does not depend on the school for most of its economy. Instead, Tuscaloosa has a huge manufacturing base thanks to companies like BFGoodrich, Hunt Refining Company, and the Mercedes-Benz international assembly plant. With that said, in the fall of 2022, the University of Alabama set a new enrollment record with 38,645 students, so the school adds a lot of people to an already large town. 

Tuscaloosa is located in Tuscaloosa County, which is in west-central Alabama. It can be found where the Gulf Coastal and Piedmont plains meet on the Black Warrior River. The city is named after the chief of the Muskogean-speaking people who first called the area home, and it was once the capital city of the state until it was moved to Montgomery. In addition to the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa is also home to many libraries and museums, and it hosts many annual city festivals.

Why the University of Alabama is the Most Sprawling College Campus in Alabama

The University of Alabama was established back in 1820, and it’s the largest university in the state as well as the oldest. This is considered a research university with very high research activity. The school offers 13 academic divisions and numerous majors. At this point, the campus is 1,970 acres, and that space contains 297 buildings that are made up of a combined 10,600,000 square feet.

A whopping 168 of those acres were added in 2010 when the school bought land formerly owned by the nearby Bryce Hospital. The administrators and president of the school hope to acquire even more land as their student class rises. 

The University of Alabama is home to many famous landmarks, including the Alabama Museum of Natural History. It’s there that you can find the Sylacauga meteorite, which is the largest extraterrestrial object to hit a human being who survived. There’s also the Paul W. Bryant Museum that showcases exhibits related to the university’s great academic past. Finally, there’s the Jones Archaeological Museum, which has exhibits related to Mississippian culture in Alabama.

There are also many historical landmarks on the campus, including the Maxwell Observatory, the Gorgas–Manly Historic District, and the President’s Mansion, Denny Chimes, Foster Auditorium. The libraries are also huge. One of them, the Angelo Bruno Business Library, is over 64,000 square feet. The school is also home to a very popular football program.

In the fall of 2021, over 33,000 students applied to join the school. The college is home to many famous alumni, including:

  • Author – Harper Lee
  • Former Governor of Alabama – George Wallace
  • News anchor – Joe Scarborough
  • Football player – Julio Jones
  • Former football player – Joe Namath

Wildlife You May Encounter on Campus

A bobcat with detailed fur markings sharpening its claws on a log

You could run into many animals while touring the University of Alabama, including a



©Jeff Westhead/

Many amazing fish, birds, reptiles, and plant species call Tuscaloosa and the overall Tuscaloosa County home. You may see them on campus or while hiking in the area.


Head to the lakes in the county, and you’re bound to spot many incredible fish species, including bluegill, warmouth, longear sunfish, black crappie, flathead catfish, and Alabama darters.


Whether you’re on campus or at a swamp, you could run into a variety of frogs and salamanders during your journey. Among the frog and toad species are southern toad, green frog, tree frogs, and spring peppers. There are many cool salamander species as well, including the northern slimy salamander, webster’s salamander, and the marbled salamander.

You could also come across many reptile species, including a variety of turtles and snakes. There are also alligators, fence lizards, and the brown anole.


There is an awesome number of bird species in the county. Watch the skies, and you could see northern cardinals, eastern bluebirds, red-tailed hawks, ruby-throated hummingbirds, house sparrows, and American goldfinches.


The county is home to many mammals, big and small. During a visit to campus, you could see many common species, including squirrel, groundhog, coyote, red and gray fox, or the swamp rabbit. There are also many more exotic mammals, including the nine-banded armadillo, wild boar, coypu, and possibly a bobcat. At night, you might hear some of the many bat species in the area, from the Mexican free-tailed bat to Rafinesque’s big-eared bat.

Flora on Campus

The most sprawling college campus in Alabama is also home to many tree and plant species that will beautify any nature hike you’ll take, and you could also see them on campus. Keep an eye out for this sampling of the many forms of plant life native to the area:

  • Japanese Honeysuckle
  • American Beautyberry
  • Persian Silk Tree
  • Bigleaf Magnolia
  • Purple Passionflower
  • Loblolly Pine
  • White Oak
  • American Persimmon
  • Japanese Mazus
  • Greater Periwinkle
  • Sparkleberry


We hope you enjoyed this tour of U of A, the most sprawling college campus in Alabama. It’s truly an incredible college with a lot of great history and amazing architecture. Plus, the university provides a great experience for the students. Consider a visit the next time you’re in Tuscaloosa County.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original

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About the Author

Justin Zipprich is a writer at A-Z Animals, where his primary focus is travel, state facts, pets, and mammals. Justin has been writing and editing animal content for over 7 years, though he holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Instructional Technology from Western Illinois University, which he earned in 2005. As a resident of Texas, he loves discovering local animals and spending time with his wife and two kids.

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