The parks in the area offer visitors the ability to take in the natural beauty of our coastal geography. From dense marshland to white sandy beaches, the natural parkland here is varied and magnificent.
Just east of Gulf Shores city limits lies Gulf State Park: more than 6,000 acres of lake, wooded trails, and white sand beaches. The showcase of the park is its 2 mile stretch of beach along the Gulf Coast, but the park also includes a 900-acre lake, an 18-hole public golf course, tennis courts, hundreds of campsites and a nature center. The park also has 20 modern cabins in two different sizes, some of which feature lakeside locations.
This 6,800-acre wildlife refuge is safe habitat for more than 370 species of migratory birds, nesting sea turtles and the endangered Alabama beach mouse. The name itself is a French phrase, which means "safe harbor". The habitat of the refuge includes beaches, scrub forest, fresh and saltwater marshes, freshwater swamps and uplands. Visitors to the refuge may experience the natural beauty and excellent water views while hiking two short trails within the Perdue Unit of land.
Along the shores of 400-acre Lake Jackson outside the town of Florala, this small state park offers swimming, paddleboat rental, fishing and picnicking. A 200-foot pier extends into the lake, which accommodates jet skis and water-skiing via a small boat launch. The park also has a small number of campsites which include electrical, water and sewage hook-ups.
On April 9, 1865, less than six hours after Lee's surrender at Appomatox, some 26,000 Union and Confederate troops battled over control the entrenched positions at Fort Blakely. The fighting constituted one of the largest battles after the official surrender of the confederacy. Today Historic Blakely State Park is a great place for weekend camping, fishing and picnicking. For those who like outdoor activity, the park contains 10.5 miles of nature trails, bicycle tracks and horse paths in all.
Dauphin Island is a 14-mile barrier island set off Alabama's Gulf coast. At the Eastern end of the island lies the Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuary, 164 acres of maritime forest, marshland, beach and lake preserved for the protection of migratory birds. The island's unique location makes one of the first landing spots for birds returning across the Gulf from Central and South America each spring, and one of the last feeding and resting places for birds making their fall exodus southward. The paths within the sanctuary allow visitors one of the nest opportunities in North America to view migratory birds.