Gulf State Park

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Gulf State Park
Alabama State Park
Morning at Gulf State Park.jpg
Westward beach vista at Gulf State Park
Country United States
State Alabama
County Baldwin
City Gulf Shores
Elevation 7 ft (2 m) [1]
Coordinates 30°15′55″N 87°38′28″W / 30.26528°N 87.64111°W / 30.26528; -87.64111Coordinates: 30°15′55″N 87°38′28″W / 30.26528°N 87.64111°W / 30.26528; -87.64111 [1]
Area 6,150 acres (2,489 ha)
Established 1939
Management Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Location in Alabama
Website: Gulf State Park

Gulf State Park is a publicly owned recreation area on the Gulf of Mexico in the city of Gulf Shores in southern Baldwin County, Alabama. The state park's 6,150 acres (2,490 ha) mostly encompass the land behind the Gulf Shores beach community, between Highway 59 and SH 161, with the west end extending further south to a wide beach area (see photo right).[2] In addition to beaches, the park includes marshland, boggy tea-colored streams, pine forests, and three spring-fed, fresh-water lakes: Lake Shelby (750 acres or 300 hectares), Middle Lake, and Little Lake.[3] The park is managed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, with park enforcement rangers providing around-the-clock security and enforcing anti-littering regulations.[4]

History[edit]

The park opened in 1939 following the Federal government's donation of the property to the state. After weathering multiple hurricanes, the park was devastated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.[3] Major projects undertaken in the wake of the storm saw the construction of a 1,540-foot (470 m) Gulf of Mexico fishing pier[2] that provides 2448 feet of fishing space,[5] a 5,000-square-foot swimming pool and splash pad, an interactive nature center, a beach pavilion, and renovation of the campground.

In 2014, the State of Alabama announced plans to spend $85 million dollars to further renovate the park. The plans include a $56 million lodge and meeting space.[6] The plans have been criticized on grounds that money for the project would come from Deepwater Horizon recovery funds which, critics say, should be used for continued cleanup and improvement of the coastal areas. In October 2014, a lawsuit was filed by the Gulf Restoration Network to block use of the funds for the construction of the lodge.[7] State officials say critics misunderstand the plans.[6]

Activities and amenities[edit]

The park includes 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of white sand beaches, a modern campground,[8] and nature trails,[9] plus both fresh and saltwater fishing and swimming. Twenty cabins, 11 cottages, and 496 campsites for both RVs and tents are available within the park's 11.5 square miles (29.9 km2).[2] An 18-hole golf course includes a pro shop and snack bar.[10] A concessionaire operates a zip-line course which opened in 2013[11] and offers kayak and paddleboard rentals for use on Lake Shelby.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Gulf State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ a b c "Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Ress, Thomas V. (March 23, 2012). "Gulf State Park". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Alabama Humanities Foundation. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ Anderson, Mark D. (February 6, 2015). "Gulf Shores determined to keep beaches clean through proposed litter ordinance, enforcement". AL.com. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Fishing and Education Pier: Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Pillion, Dennis (March 20, 2015). "'Misunderstood' Gulf State Park Project on track for 2018 completion, executive director says". AL.com. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  7. ^ Pillion, Dennis (October 24, 2014). "Gulf State Park convention center challenged in lawsuit; Group calls project 'shocking misuse of restoration funds". AL.com. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Camping: Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Hiking and Biking: Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Refuge Golf Course: Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Hummingbird Ziplines". Gulf Adventure Center. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Watersports on Lake Shelby". Gulf Adventure Center. Retrieved January 14, 2016. 

External links[edit]