We have visited very few parks more than once, but Lake Guntersville State Park is one where we have spent a lot of time and highly recommend. With an enormous lake, miles of trails, and a beautiful lodge, this park truly caters to all ages and types of campers. The beautiful hills, trees and abundance of wildlife allows you to get back to nature while still having amenities such as full hookups, bathhouses and nearby restaurants.
As the site of the RVE Summit in 2019 and the almost site for it in 2020 (COVID forced the Summit to be virtual), we have spent a collective two months here at Lake Guntersville – it has become so familiar that it feels like home. And even after all that time, we have not explored the full State Park and all it has to offer.
Located in northeastern Alabama, Lake Guntersville State Park is 6,000 acres of hills, woods and nature along the largest lake in the state. While they offer several activities like golf on an 18 hole course and a long zipline, the lake is the main attraction. It draws fishermen, kayakers, sailboats and kids along with a wide variety of birds. Since we do not tow a boat, we instead enjoyed several of the 36 miles of hiking and biking trails. Based on friends’ feedback, the biking trails were fun but slightly dangerous especially when slick.
The best part of the Park is the natural setting and ability to enjoy wildlife. There is a wide variety of birds, including bald eagles which have nests in the Park and were often seen swooping over the lake. Other birds such as the comical coots fill the air with their chirps and tweets. It is very common to see deer along the roads or even in the camp late at night as they look for food. Both years, we have been here to watch the hills change from winter brown to abundant greens as spring arrives and the trees bloom.
The main campground for RVers is large, about 200 sites with full hookups. There are another 100 sites for either primitive camping or those who just need water and electricity. There are also small cabins within the RV park and another section of cabins in a different section of the lake.
The camp is divided into sections, designated by a letter. While one section is held for those who volunteer and longer term campers, most of the sites tend to turn over quickly and often fill up on the weekends. We stayed in Section E, which is close to the lake and flanked by bathhouses so seems the most convenient. It also includes a row of paved sites. Most sites are gravel and level, though the sections in the back of the camp seem to have less gravel. My recommendation for a site is to choose one in section E or G along the road near the lake. Make sure you get one that allows your outdoor living space to face the lake – about every other row. Most of these are larger than the others and have great views. The premiere spot is E34 for location and size. Sites in E along the back road tend to be up on a small hill. Even still, we were able to get our 37 foot Class A on E28 which was narrow with a dropoff on both sides. At least our sewer line was going downhill.
Several bath houses are located throughout the park. Section E is bookcased by two bath houses but all other sections have one nearby. This was particularly important since we had two tornado warnings while we were there. (We learned that April is key month for severe storms and tornadoes in the area.) The bath houses and laundry facilities are cleaned several times each day by the volunteers so very well-kept.
Campfires are very popular here and people bring or buy stacks of wood. Most sites have a nice stone ring or at least an area for a campfire. We noticed some of the stones were knocked over or gone in a few sites. Grills are also available for charcoal grilling.
Amenities and Activities
There are plenty of activities including a playground, piers to fish off, and enjoying nature with hikes, biking or just strolling. There is a nice dog park, a beach and a pavilion. While we don’t have small children, there were plenty around and they were having a ball riding their bikes around the grounds and getting into the shallow areas of the lake.
The Lodge also offers a variety of restaurants, a sauna and more cabins or rooms in case you want to invite guests to visit, but is better for them not to stay in your home. The Lodge also has a restaurant and great facilities for conferences or family reunions. We enjoyed the view from the Lodge last year during our conference and got to experience it again this year when we took shelter there from a tornadic storm. All part of the adventure!
Guntersville is the closest town to the State Park and includes several restaurants and stores. We enjoyed a great night of trivia at Main Channel Brewery and fell in love with Jonica’s Bakery, a delicious place for sandwiches, cupcakes and other treats. Barry got his dirty chai fix at Jamoka Coffee Company and we shopped or got delivery from Publix several times.
We also were able to get out and enjoy the greater area with a couple of field trips to nearby waterfalls. It is a beautiful part of the country and worth a drive to see the scenery.
While we didn’t get on the lake, there are boats and kayaks available for rental in several places including in the State Park.
Lake Guntersville State Park is worth a visit or even a longer stay. It is a great place to just park and relax or escape a pandemic! With something for everyone, pleasant volunteers and staff and great facilities, and reasonable rates, it scores highly for us as a destination.