There are 7 National Parks in Alabama including National Monuments, National Military Parks, National Preserves and more.
From one of the longest rivers in the nation that flows almost entirely atop a mountain to the place where Andrew Jackson’s soldiers forever ended the power of the Creek Nation, the National Park areas of Alabama provide a unique cross-section of natural wonders and historic landmarks.
Little River Canyon National Preserve, one of the newest of the state’s national parks, covers thousands of acres atop Lookout Mountain near Fort Payne. Protecting the natural wonder called the “Grand Canyon of the East” by many, the preserve provides spectacular views of mountain scenery, stunning year-round waterfalls, rare plants and animals and a whitewater river that should only be attempted by seasoned enthusiasts. The canyon, cut as much as 600 feet into the top of Lookout Mountain over thousands of years, is a favorite place for outings, sightseeing, photography, picnicking and more.
In the far northeast corner of the state, Russell Cave National Monument preserves a cave shelter used by Native Americans for more than 10,000 years. Archaeological research at the cave leads some to believe this may be the oldest cave shelter site in the United States. It is believed that Native American hunters and their families used the cave from around 6500 B.C. to roughly 1650 A.D. The monument is located near Bridgeport.
Native American and military history, meanwhile, highlight the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park in the central part of the state. Located near the small community of Daviston, Alabama, the park preserves the scene of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Here, in March of 1814, an army under General (and future President) Andrew Jackson attacked an entrenched force of Creek warriors. The culminating battle of the Creek War of 1813-1814, Horseshoe Bend was also one of the major engagements of the War of 1812.
The Creeks were members of the “Red Stick” faction, a division of the nation that rebelled in hopes of sparking a return to native ways and lifestyles. They literally fought to the death at Horseshoe Bend, with more than 500 losing their lives after Jackson stormed their fortifications. The park features overlooks, interpretive facilities, a tour road through the battlefield and beautiful scenery.
Groundbreaking cultural history also took place at a pair of national park areas in the city of Tuskegee. Here, at Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, men including Booker T. Washington and Dr. George Washington Carver created new opportunities and new lives for African Americans in the decades following the end of slavery. The site includes the George Washington Carver Museum, which recognizes the spectacular contributions of the scientist who developed scores of products using native plants and agricultural products. Other features of the park are the historic campus of Tuskegee Institute and the home of Booker T. Washington.
Nearby, the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site preserves the airfield where the famed Tuskegee Airmen were trained during World War Two. The Tuskegee Airmen were the nation’s first African American fighter pilots and among the most successful of the war. Over 1,000 men trained here and paved the way for full African American integration into the United States Armed Forces.
A small section of the Natchez Parkway also passes through the northwest corner of Alabama, completing the state’s fascinating collection of national park areas.
Here is a list of the 7 National Parks in Alabama and a few sites that are located in multiple states
Alabama National Parks
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
Freedom Riders National Monument
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park
Little River Canyon National Preserve
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area
Natchez Trace Parkway
Russel Cave National Monument
Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site
These parks have over 990,000 visitors each year as of 2016. These visitations produce over 45 million in economic benefits according to the National Park Service.
Alabama also has 1,297 National Register of Historic Places listings. 38 National Historic Landmarks, 7 National Natural Landmarks, 1,255 places recorded by the Heritage documentation program and 258 Archeological sites within the national park sites.
There are 13 threatened and endangered species found in the Alabama National Parks.
Check out this list of US National Parks to check off and see how many you have been to!
If you have ever wondered about how to become a Park Ranger check out this article on How to Become a Park Ranger.