Gulf State Park is located in southern Baldwin County and is a real treasure for visitors to our area. You will find both freshwater and saltwater ecosystems there. There are three freshwater lakes, including Lake Shelby. These areas are home to fish like bass and bream, as well as alligators.
The 6,000 acre tract includes 2 1/2 miles of beachfront property. These undeveloped beaches make a great habitat for the endangered Alabama Beach Mouse. Sea Turtles nest here, as well. The nature center helps showcase the variety of species found here.
Kelly Reetz, a naturalist at the park, says there is plenty of room for everyone.
“Gulf State park offers both cabins and camping. 31 cabins, 496 campsites, all campsites have been renovated since Hurricane Ivan with power water and sewer.”
Reetz says there are plenty of things happening at the park even in the colder months.
“We are fortunate to be one of the parks to be busy all year. In the wintertime, January-March, we have snow birds.”
Winter visitors often serve as volunteers for nature programs and help to keep the park clean.
Hurricanes have taken there toll on the park. Saltwater flooded the property, killing trees and vegetation. The dead trees created plenty of fuel for recent fires, including the large wildfire last June. Fire can actually help the ecosystem recover.
“The environment around here is fire dependant, which means the trees won’t sprout as quickly, new seeds won’t sprout unless there is a fire.”
Despite the setbacks, there have been number of improvements to the facilities since Hurricane Ivan. The newly rebuilt Gulf fishing pier is the longest on the Gulf of Mexico at 1540ft. It is open 24 hrs a day, year round.
Head down to Gulf State Park and check it out! There’s a lot to learn, enjoy and explore.