The 5 Best Places to Camp in Alabama this Summer

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: June 6, 2022
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Load up the camper and pull out the tents! A great way to connect with nature is a nice relaxing week (or weekend) of camping. Whether you are looking to camp near the Gulf or with access to the Appalachian trail, Alabama has a variety of amazing campsites throughout the state. Here are the 5 best places to camp in Alabama this summer.

1) Gulf State Park

European Beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria)

With a large freshwater lake and a short drive to the Gulf Shores Beach, Gulf State Park is a great place to camp in Alabama.

©iStock.com/Edda Dupree

LocationSouthern tip of the state, on the Gulf of Mexico
Nearest CityGulf Shores
RV Sites496 sites, water, electricity, sewer, pull-thru, back-in, waterfront, and ADA
Tent Sites11 primitive sites
Glamping Sites3 (new!)
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
Amenities11 modern bathhouses, laundry, swimming pool, nature center, camp store, fishing pier, and tennis courts
Pet Friendly?Yes, a dog park on Lake Shelby; dogs can swim!
ReservationsYes; some are first-come, first-serve
What makes it one of the bestLarge, modern facilities right on the Gulf!

One of the most popular camping areas in Alabama is Gulf State Park. Located right on the Gulf, you have access to both the Gulf and a beautiful freshwater Lake Shelby. Enjoy the best of both for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and swimming. The large campsite has 496 sites as well as 11 primitive sites for tent camping and 3 new glamping sites. There is a large camp store, nature center, and swimming pool right on site.

There are miles of trails to hike over to Shelby Lake for swimming and kayaking, or you can take a short drive over to Gulf Shores Public Beach for a day at the beach. Check out the Gulf State Park Pier, which provides some of the best fishing in the area. Here, you can catch Florida pompano, sheepshead, mackerel, flounder, red drum, king mackerel, and whiting, depending on the time of year. The centrally located campground can be your home base for many of the attractions in Alabama!

2) Bartrum Trails Canoe Area, Floating Platform Camping

Caddo Lake Texas

For a unique camping experience, kayak or canoe into these remote, floating platform campsites on the Bartrum Canoe Trails.

©Daniel Mullins/Shutterstock.com

LocationJust NE of Mobile, AL, North of Mobile Bay
Nearest CityMobile
RV Sites0
Tent SitesTwo Rivers Point Campsite
Sandbar CampingSpoonbill Sandbar Campsite
Floating Platform Campsites4
Picnic Tables at each siteNo
Fire Pit at each siteNo
AmenitiesNo amenities; the floating platforms are covered
Pet FriendlyNo
ReservationsYes, for the floating platforms. No, for the campsites; those are first-come, first-serve.
What makes it one of the bestRemote connection with nature, no motorized boats allowed, and a peaceful getaway.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from a full-service RV campground is the primitive canoe/kayaking-only floating platform camping along the Bartrum Trails. The Mobile-Tensaw Delta is one of the largest river deltas in the United States. The 250,000 acres of twisting and turning waterways wind through dense cypress swamps and forests. There are more than 50 different endangered plant and animal species in the park. There are also black bears, alligators, osprey, and red-bellied turtles. You can reserve one of the four floating platforms for camping, and there are two land-based camping areas along the shores. Detailed waterway trails are provided for day trips and/or multiple-day overnight trips. If you want to try a peaceful, nature-based camping trip, then staying overnight on a floating raft in the Delta is the way to go.

3) Cheaha State Park

Cheaha Falls Alabama

Cheaha Falls is around 30 feet tall and runs down Mt. Cheaha, Alabama’s highest peak.

©iStock.com/Jacqueline Nix

LocationIn the Talladega National Forest
Nearest CityEast of Talladega
Upper Improved Campground43 tent/RV Sites, bathhouse, ADA sites, and laundry
Lower Improved Campground30 tent/RV sites, bathhouse, and laundry
CCC primitive Campground28 tent sites, fire ring, and vault toilets
Upper Primitive Campground26 tent sites, picnic table, fire ring, and restrooms
Picnic Tables at each siteAll except the CCC Primitive
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, bathhouse, water, electricity, mountain store, and hiking trails
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestCamping in the mountains!

If you’d like to camp where there are fewer alligators, how about up in the Cheaha mountains, the tallest mountains in Alabama? The newly remodeled Upper and Lower Campgrounds at the park now have a variety of rustic sites and modern sites with electrical hook-ups with water and sewer. The park has a mountain store for all your necessities. There are five mountain bike trails, six hiking trails, and the Dough Ghee boardwalk. For some of the most amazing views, take a hike to the Pulpit Rock or hike to one of the waterfalls, like the CCC Reservoir Falls.

4) DeSoto State Park

DeSoto Falls

DeSoto Falls is one of the beautiful waterfalls you can hike to while you are camping at DeSoto State Park.

©James Deitsch/Shutterstock.com

LocationNE corner of Alabama
Nearest CitySE of Huntsville, AL
Main Campground96 RV/tent sites with water, electricity, and sewer
Backpacking Sites2 primitive hike-in sites, with covered shelter at each
Picnic Tables at each siteYes (except for the backpacking sites)
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, bathhouse, water, electricity, and sewer
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestLarge private campsites and amazing waterfalls!

If you want nice, large campsites that are spaced apart from your neighbors, then Desoto State Park Campground is one of the best places to camp in Alabama. The large pads are 16 feet by 60 feet, with a large offset on the side. Each site has sewer, water, electricity, a picnic table, and a grill. There are a variety of back-in, pull-thru, and “buddy” sites, and tent camping is allowed at each site as well. If you want to challenge yourself, you could reserve one of the two backpacking campsites that are about a mile hike to the primitive tent sites. DeSoto State Park has some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Alabama, including the DeSoto Falls.

5) Island Retreat RV Park

Animals That Use Echolocation

Only three miles from Gulf Shores Beach, Island Retreat RV Park is one of the best places to camp in Alabama.

©iStock.com/Brian Sevald

LocationJust NE of Gulf Shores Beach
Nearest CityGulf Shores, AL
RV Sites and Tent Sites173 RV/tent sites with water, electricity, and sewer
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, bathhouse, laundry, water, electricity, sewer, saltwater pool, dog run, horseshoes, basketball, fishing pole rental, and a new playground.
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsYes
What makes it one of the bestModern RV park with saltwater pool, only 3 miles to Gulf Shores Beach!

If you plan to spend most of your time exploring the area, then the Island Retreat RV Park is a great place to call your home base. It is only 3 miles from Gulf Shores Beach and Orange Beach, where you can find dolphins, sea turtles, and brown pelicans. This RV Park has RV and tent sites that are 30/50 AMP full-service sites. The sites are closer together than at DeSoto, but they are modern and include picnic tables and fire rings. With 173 sites to choose from, there are plenty of choices for pull-thru and back-in sites, all fully equipped. When you are not at the beach, there are plenty of activities that take place at the campsite, including year-round planned activities and events. You can also check out the saltwater pool.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © James Deitsch/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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