Gulf State Park

Summary

Gulf State Park
Morning at Gulf State Park.jpg
Westward beach vista at Gulf State Park
Map showing the location of Gulf State Park
Map showing the location of Gulf State Park
Location in Alabama
Map showing the location of Gulf State Park
Map showing the location of Gulf State Park
Gulf State Park (the United States)
LocationGulf Shores, Baldwin, Alabama, United States
Coordinates30°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]
Area6,500 acres (26 km2)
Elevation7 ft (2.1 m)[1]
Established1939
OperatorAlabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
WebsiteGulf State Park

Gulf State Park is a public recreation area on the Gulf of Mexico in the city of Gulf Shores in southern Baldwin County, Alabama. The state park's 6,500 acres (2,600 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

The park's facilities, including cabins and a casino, were built in the 1930s by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps working under the auspices of the Federal government.[5] The park opened in 1939 after ownership of the property was transferred 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 2,448 feet of fishing space,[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] State officials say critics misunderstand the plans.[7][needs update]

Awards

In September 2020, Gulf State Park was one of eleven Alabama State Parks awarded Tripadvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award, which recognizes businesses and attractions that earn consistently high user reviews.[9]

Activities and amenities

The park includes 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of white sand beaches, a modern campground,[10] and nature trails,[11] plus both fresh and saltwater fishing and swimming. 20 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.[12] A concessionaire operates a zip-line course which opened in 2013[13] and offers kayak and paddleboard rentals for use on Lake Shelby.[14]

References

  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. ^ "History of Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  6. ^ "Fishing and Education Pier: Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "TRIP ADVISOR AWARDS 2020". Official Web site of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. 3 September 2020. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Camping: Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  11. ^ "Hiking and Biking: Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  12. ^ "Refuge Golf Course: Gulf State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  13. ^ "Hummingbird Ziplines". Gulf Adventure Center. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  14. ^ "Watersports on Lake Shelby". Gulf Adventure Center. Retrieved January 14, 2016.

External links

  • Gulf State Park Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources