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Year of Alabama Parks

Sweet Home Alabama is celebrating its great outdoors in 2014! 

From the pure white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast to the Appalachian foothills, Alabama’s 22 state parks will host a variety of special events throughout 2014. We invite you to experience amazing golf, hiking, biking, kayaking, horseback riding and rock climbing as well as swimming in the warm waters and scuba diving off the beautiful Gulf Coast.

Nature & Adventure 

Most visitors to Alabama will explore by car, and a good thing too because it's between cities that you get to experience the real 'Sweet Home Alabama' - white picket fences and tiny towns with just a dusty rail track running through. Head outdoors to appreciate pastoral countryside, soft-white beaches, rivers and mountains. 

Alabama is home to a million acres of lakes, 1,600 miles of rivers and 22 million acres of forests and has myriad opportunities for hiking and outdoor sports, from the Gulf Coast ruight up to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. 

The southern end of the Appalachian mountain chain is home to some of the mst diverse and beautiful woodlands in the USA. Tall pines linre more than 30 miles of trails at Lake Guntersville State Park on the Tennessee River, where the American bald eagle makes its winter home. You can climb to Alabama's highest point at Cheaha State Park, where there's also mountain bike trails. 

Hit the Beach 

Down south the weather is warm year round so it's all about embracing the great outdoors. Alabama's best-kept secret is its beaches. The resorts of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach comprise 32-miles of pristine bright-white beaches accessed by wooden boardwalks and backed by waving sea oats. 

The beaches are in adjacent resort towns, each with a huge choice of restaurants and bars. However, development is controlled and along the sugary straight is just a single row of condos and a few hotels with direct beach access. In fact, part of the coast, stretching inland between the two resorts, is a state park. A great spot to hang out is at Gulf State Park Pier, where sun-wrinkled fishermen haul in their catch and you can spot schools of fish sparkling under the hot sun. The park has 10 miles of trails and lakeside cabins - and it's just a 10 minute bike ride to the beach. 

DEEP SOUTH DETOUR - If you're in Montgomery, nature is never far away. Hop aboard the elegant 19th century paddle steamer the Harriott II, which is docked near the Entertainment District. From here you can float along the peaceful Alabama River Huckleberry Finn-style, with food, drinks and music. 

Animal Magic 

From Orange Beach, jovial Captain Bill runs Cetacean Cruises. His boat Alabama Cruizin' is just one of many specialising in nature trails, letting visitors see wild dolphins up-close and venturing into the dappled shade of the area's inland swamps and creeks to watch for more wildlife. You can even spy on the residents as you glide past some of the area's most affluent and idyllic waterside homes. The 5 Rivers Delta Center, located in the Mobile Tensaw Delta, is a winding labryrinth of peaceful reeded and wooded waterways where alligators lurk. The center operates guided kayak and boat trips, ranging from short sunset cruises to several days camping overnight in the wilderness with 'gator bites' and other refreshments laid on. There is deep sea fishing and diving off the coast of the resort towns of Gulf Shores / Orange Beach, where you can also take a coastal kayak, rent jet skis or go parasailing. 

DID YOU KNOW? - White-water rafting is now available on the Chattahoochee River between Phenix City, Alabama and Columbus, Georgia and is described as being 'as wild as Colorado and as warm as Costa Rica'. 

Action Stations 

For the active traveller there are plenty of activities, including hiking and mountain biking, to choose from. Alabama has many unique rock formations that people travel miles to climb. Horse Pens 40 in the Appalachian Mountains is a 115-acre historical park with gigantic boulders and scenic cliffs formerly used by Native Americans. Along the Alabama/Georgia stateline, just south of Atlanta, experience the thrill of the 'World's Longest Urban Whitewater Course' as you ride in an eight-person raft down the exhilirating Chattahoochee River into downtown Phenix City, Alabama. North of Atlanta, in Alabama, are the mountain villages of Mentone and Fort Payne where you can hike in a state park or visit Little River Canyon, a National Preserve operated by the US Park Service. Zip-line adventures are available both at the beach and in Birmingham in Red Mountain Park, which also has an amazing obstacle course in the tops of the park's mountain top trees. Or play world-class championship golf on the Robert Trent Golf Trail.


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