Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Desoto State Park - Alabama

DeSoto State Park in Alabama is in the northeast corner of the state near Fort Payne. This is a park that is filled with memories for us as the last time we camped here, we were in a tent and our son, daughter-in-law and our three month old granddaughter joined us.

Entrance to DeSoto State Park

Before seeing the sign marking the boundary to the Alabama State Park, chances are that you will have to travel down I-59 to get there. Be warned that this is probably on the list of worst stretches of Interstate Highway in the nation. You, your tow vehicle and trailer will be bounced around a lot on this washboard highway, which needs to be repaved because I don't think it can be fixed one more time.

Our site at DeSoto State Park
 We found DeSoto State Park in Alabama to be well maintained and clean. The camping sites were improved since our last visit six years ago and were level and easy to back in and connect to the utilities.

Both the park ranger checking us in and the camp host pointed out that we were one week late in our arrival. There was an Airstream rally at DeSoto the previous week. While we would have loved to been at the Alumabama Rally, my work schedule is often difficult to work around. (It isn't good for a college professor to cut classes!)

Camping at DeSoto Park

There are plenty of places to ride your bikes at DeSoto State Park. There are also lots of hills! You need to know that half of your ride will be uphill and the rest will be coasting back to your campsite. Expect a vigorous workout every time you hop on your bikes while camping here.

Going for a bike ride in DeSoto State Park
 One of the odd "features" of this park is that most of the things you want to see are outside of the park. There are some interesting things to see inside the park, but wait until you see what is within ten miles of your campsite.

DeSoto Falls
About eight miles in one direction is DeSoto Falls. This is a nice set of cascading falls and is worth visiting. Make sure that you follow the trails to the lower falls because it is too easy to see the top falls and think you've seen everything there.

Also, take a look at the lake area above the falls. Chances are that you will see this as a very picturesque scene.

You run into Little River Canyon when traveling approximately 10 miles in the other direction. This is a federal national preserve.

Little River Canyon Falls
There are some amazing sights here. You start your tour around the canyon at the falls. Since our last visit, the National Park Service has built lots of fenced off walkways.

Mushroom Rock
As you drive around the canyon, you will see Mushroom Rock--you can't miss it because it is in the middle of the road.

This is another nostalgic area for us as we talked about being there with our family six years ago.

It is worth driving around the canyon to see the many sights there.

Following the orange blazes
There are many hiking trails in DeSoto State Park. Unfortunately, most are marked in a confusing manner and the map is, for the most part, useless. We followed the maps six years ago and got lost just as we did this time.

We were not alone as we met several other hikers and they were as lost as we were.

Some points about the park:
  • Many sites have both 30 and 50 amp electrical service
  • RV sites also have water and sewage hookups
  • The park provides basic cable TV service
  • WiFi (slow) is available at the camp store, not in the camping area
  • There is a decent camp general store in the park
  • The campground is pet-friendly
  • There are more than 20 pull-through sites at this park
AT&T provided spotty 3G service at the park. We usually needed to walk outside Rosie (our trailer) to use our iPhone.

While the park had full hook-ups, we made it a point to walk over to the restrooms and showers. While it was evident that these facilities have been there for a long time, they were clean and well maintained.

We didn't see a big problem with mosquitoes, but you had to be careful about ticks. We found a few on Annie, our family dog, and a couple on our clothing.

By the time taxes and other fees were added in, we paid approximately $36/night for our campsite.

Perhaps the most interesting thing that happened during our visit was the weather. A day-long soaking rain moved in on Saturday. We watched as the park filled up on Friday evening only to empty on Saturday afternoon because of the rain.

We were in a tent the last time we visited DeSoto and we would have been in the group exiting the park because of the weather. Instead, we continued to enjoy our stay from inside Rosie.

Would we go back to this park? Sure.

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