Gulf State Park
|Gulf State Park|
Looking west along the beach at Gulf State Park
|Location||20115 Alabama Highway 135
Gulf Shores, Alabama, U.S.A.
|Area||6,150 acres (2,490 ha)|
|Elevation||7 feet (2.1 m) |
|Operated by||Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources|
Gulf State Park is a 6,150-acre (2,490 ha) state park in Gulf Shores, Alabama in southern Baldwin County. The park property mostly covers the land behind the Gulf Shores beach community, between Highway 59 and SH 161, but the west end extends further south to a wide beach area along the Gulf of Mexico (see photo right). There are three spring-fed, fresh-water lakes within Gulf State Park: Lake Shelby (750 acres or 300 hectares), Middle Lake, and Little Lake.
Gulf State Park has weathered several hurricanes but was largely devastated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Major projects undertaken in the wake of the storm saw the construction of the longest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico (1,540 feet or 470 metres), a 5,000-square-foot swimming pool and splash pad, an interactive nature center, a beach pavilion, and complete renovation of the campground.
Activities and amenities
The park includes 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of white sand beaches along the Gulf, a modern campground for both RVs and tents, rental cottages, and nature trails, plus both fresh and saltwater fishing and swimming. There are 496 campsites within the park's 11.5 square miles (29.9 km2); all have electrical, water, and sewage hook-ups. The park's 18-hole championship golf course is open seven days a week and includes a pro shop and snack bar.
Security is provided around the clock by Park Enforcement Rangers.
Other activities located inside the park include a zipline course, which opened in 2013. For a modest fee, kayaks and paddleboards can be rented for use on Lake Shelby. In 2014, the portion of Lake Shelby beneath the zipline of the easternmost tower adjacent to U.S. Highway 182 was named Peyton Bay.
In 2014, the State of Alabama announced plans to spend $85 million dollars to renovate the park after the ravages of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The plans include a $56 million dollar lodge and meeting space. 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 seeking to block use of the funds for the construction of the lodge. State officials say critics misunderstand the plans.
- "Gulf State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- "Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- "Gulf State Park (Trails)". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- "Gulf State Park (Pier)". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- "Gulf State Park (Camping)". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- Pillion, Dennis (March 20, 2015). "'Misunderstood' Gulf State Park Project on track for 2018 completion, executive director says". AL.com. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- 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.
- Gulf State Park Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources