Desoto State Park
Guide

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Introduction

For RV lovers looking for a family-friendly getaway in northeastern Alabama, you can't beat DeSoto State Park. Located atop the spectacular Lookout Mountain, DeSoto State Park is the largest park in Alabama and consists of 3,502 acres that you can explore through the 25 miles of hiking and 11 miles of biking trails. The history of the park dates back to the 1930s when it was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps who built most of the infrastructure. Formerly known as State Park Number 5, it was officially renamed in 1939 to honor explorer, Hernando de Soto.

One of the main highlights of the park is DeSoto Falls, which is the largest falls within all of Alabama. There are so many activities to keep you busy here, including kayaking, golf, swimming, and yoga. There is also a great nature center that features interpretive programs for those interested in learning more about the park. With so many things to do, it makes for the perfect family vacation or a romantic getaway for any RV camper. You can expect 90-degree temperatures in the summer, and 50-degree temperatures in the winter, although it can drop down to the 30s at times, so pack accordingly! There are plenty of accommodation options available at DeSoto State Park, including an RV friendly campground that features 94 full hookup sites. If you are interested in getting out of the RV, there is also a motel on-site, a primitive campground, and numerous cabins and chalets. Open all year round, DeSoto State Park is waiting for you to explore, so what are you waiting for?

RV Rentals in Desoto State Park

Transportation in Desoto State Park

Driving

DeSoto State Park is located in northeastern Alabama, near the community of Alpine. Although the park isn't near any major cities, there are a few places that you can stop at if you need last-minute supplies. These include Fort Payne (around five miles away), Rainsville (about 15 miles away), and Powell (around 19 miles away).

When you drive here, please note that GPS directions are not reliable for big rigs. Since the park is located on top of Lookout Mountain, there are no road restrictions at DeSoto State Park when it comes to RVs and large vehicles. Keep in mind though that you will need to drive up a hill to get to the campground, but RVs make this trek all the time with no difficulties. Snow is rare here in Alabama, but if there is snow on the ground, roadways will likely be closed. If visiting during the winter, we recommend that you check the weather conditions first by calling the park office or checking the park's website.

Parking options for RVs are slim here, so if you’re only visiting the park for the day, you might want to find a place to leave your RV outside the park, then bring your smaller personal vehicle with you into the park. When bringing your RV for a camping trip, there is a little pull-off that you can park your RV for a short time while registering for your campsite.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Desoto State Park

Campsites in Desoto State Park

Reservations camping

DeSoto State Park RV Campground

The developed campground at DeSoto State Park has everything you could possibly need for a comfortable RV vacation. Here you will find 94 sites that all come with full hookups so that you can enjoy your stay in the great outdoors with some modern comforts. The campground is also built to accommodate big rigs, and there are no size restrictions, so even the largest of RVs are welcome here.

Along with having full hookups, there is a picnic table and grill at each campsite. You’ll also have access to one of the two nearby comfort stations where you can go to use a flush toilet, take a hot shower, and do your laundry. If you plan to stay here on the weekend, you’ll need to make reservations for at least two nights to be guaranteed a camping spot. On major holidays, the requirement is three nights. Reservations for the peak-season and holiday weekends should be made at least three months in advance. You won’t be disappointed with the quality of this campground, so come and check it out for yourself!

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Cabins and Chalets

If you want something that has a little more of a rustic and homey feel to it than the motel might offer, you can stay at one of the cabins or chalets. There are lots of similarities between these two, but the most significant difference is the cabins have two bedrooms and a sleeper sofa in the living room, while the chalets only have one bedroom. So if you’re bringing the whole family, a cabin is probably more ideal.

Each cabin and chalet has everything you could need for ultimate comfort. This includes cable TV, a full kitchen with all the cookware and utensils you could need, linens, a full bath, and heating and air conditioning. Like the motel, reservations are recommended at least three months in advance.

DeSoto State Park Lodge

Maybe the RV camping trip didn’t turn out like you’d hoped it would, or you are looking for a more modern accommodation for your stay. If you’d like to get a complete break from the outdoor environment and stay somewhere else, you can rent a room at the lodge located here in the park. The rooms at DeSoto State Park are connected to the restaurant, and they have all the typical amenities of a hotel, including a mini-refrigerator, a microwave, coffee and coffee pot, hairdryer, iron, and ironing board. There are single and double rooms available, so keep in mind that if you’re coming during the peak season, the staff recommends that you make your reservation at least three months in advance.

Primitive and Backpack Camping

If you are interested in accommodation away from the creature comforts, you should consider setting up a tent and staying at one of many primitive sites within the tent camping section of the campground. The sites within the primitive campground contain a fire pit and picnic table, as well as access to nearby vault toilets, drinking water, and trash cans. There are also backpacking campsites further out in nature if you wish to get away from it all. If you plan to do this, be sure to bring everything you could need for the entirety of your trip, because you’ll have no access to any amenities.

Seasonal activities in Desoto State Park

In-Season

Kayaking

At DeSoto State Park, you’ll have the opportunity to go on a scenic adventure down the Little River above DeSoto Falls, thanks to the canoes and kayaks for rent at the park. The trip totals four miles if you paddle the entire way, and you can choose between single and tandem kayaks. Life vests are also provided, and the friendly staff of the park is available to help you launch your watercraft into the river. If you do decide to rent a kayak, you will have to pay a small fee, but it is well worth it.

Swimming

There no better way to cool off during the hot and humid summer months at DeSoto State Park than by hitting the water. Close to the picnic area, you’ll find an Olympic sized swimming pool that’s perfect for summer fun. It even has a diving board for you to jump from if you are the adventurous type. If you want something a little more natural, there is also a swimming area in the West Fork of Little River, above the A.A. Miller Dam.

Fly Fishing

While you can still do traditional fishing here at the park, many people find it easier and prefer to come here to fly fish. Summer serves as the perfect opportunity to catch lots of red-eye bass and bluegill, and you’ll have no problem finding a spot to fish in the Little River or at the base of the falls since there will be plenty of room for everyone. You will need a fishing license if you want to cast out a line, and you can purchase one online before your trip.

Golfing

If yoga really isn’t your thing, golf might be. You can head out of the RV over to the DeSoto Golf Course for a round of nine-hole or 18-hole golf. The golf course is lush and beautiful, too, with bright green rolling hills and a sparkling lake. You’ll really feel tranquil out here, which is precisely how you should feel when you take an RV vacation. If you don't have your own golf gear, you will be able to rent clubs and other items during your trip so that you won't miss out on all of the golfing fun.

Doing Yoga on the Mountain

Yoga can be a great way to start your day, and there is nothing quite like a relaxing morning spent stretching on the mountain. When you visit this state park on the weekends, you’ll have the opportunity to join in on a yoga class held each Saturday morning. Make the most of your vacation by starting your Saturday out as relaxed as you can be by participating in this rarely found state park activity. Bring your comfiest leggings, your yoga mat, and a water bottle, and prepare to find your inner zen.

Off-Season

Geocaching

Geocaching is a modern-day version of a treasure hunt, which can be a lot of fun here at DeSoto. Just download the GPS coordinates and get out there in search of them. There are six different geocache locations within the park, so you will have plenty of treasure to find if you are willing to look for it. If you wish to leave a geocache, you’ll need to submit a signed permit to the park manager, first. Geocaching is a great way to get out of the camper and explore lesser-known areas of the park.

Hiking

There are over 30 miles of trails available to you at DeSoto State Park, many of which are interconnected so that you can explore even more! Hiking difficulty ranges from easy to strenuous, so you’ll be sure to find a trail that is suitable for your skill level. If you are hiking during the offseason, the weather will be very pleasant as there most likely will be no snow, and you won’t need to worry about the crowds, bugs, or humidity. While you are here, you should plan to hike as much as you can because you won't be disappointed in your decision to see as much of the park as possible.

Horseback Riding

Located on Lookout Mountain, you’ll find Shady Grove Dude Ranch, where you can come to saddle up for a ride on your horse. Traveling by horse is a great way to explore the park, especially if you’re a horse-riding enthusiast. There are 800 acres that you can explore on horseback, which will give you spectacular views of the river, woods, and perhaps on your ride, you might even get the chance to see a few animals! The ranch also offers riders to a Native American Burial Ground and the famous falls if you are looking to learn more about the area.

Mountain Biking

If you love to mountain bike, you will be very happy to hear that there are plenty of places that you can check out during your visit. Out of the 30 miles of trails available for hikers, over 11 of those miles are open for mountain biking. Keep in mind that these trails are off-road, so you’ll need to watch for rocks, branches, and even wildlife. The difficulty level varies from trail to trail as well, but if you are an experienced rider, you will be able to handle all of the trails, no matter the rating.

Eating at the Restaurant

The DeSoto State Park Mountain Inn Restaurant is unlike any other. Not only do they have great food here, but they also have a welcoming historical environment that you’ll get to enjoy while you dine. You'll find the restaurant in the lodge dating back to the 1930s, when it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and it offers a magnificent view of the West Fork of Little River. No matter what time of the year that you visit, the restaurant will be waiting for you to enjoy.

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