I’ve lived in Alabama for more than 15 years now, but it wasn’t until 2014 that my husband and I first encountered one of the many bucket list-worthy locations in North Alabama. As we traveled home from a weekend in Chattanooga, I suggested we stop to see a waterfall I’d read about online. That waterfall opened our eyes and minds, and we left to explore more of what Alabama has to offer. Eight years later, we now share that same ambition with our three boys and have made exploring a way of life!
Located in DeSoto State Park, DeSoto Falls is a 107 ft waterfall and one of the tallest in Alabama. The waterfall is comprised of a dam, upper falls, and lower falls. The dam and upper falls are easy to access and can be viewed with just a short walk from the parking lot, but you’ll need to walk down several beautifully decorated mosaic steps to the observation area to see the lower falls.
Do you want to see the falls from the bottom? This short, scenic hike will take you there!
Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge
While typically reserved for our viewing pleasure on TV or the big screen, witnessing bats emerge from a cave in person is a thing and can be done here in Alabama!
Sauta Cave National Wildlife refuge is located just east of Huntsville and protects endangered Gray and Indiana bats. While the cave is closed to the public, you can watch 250,000 gray bats emerge every evening during summer and fall. It’s quite a sight to see!
*Pack plenty of bug spray, an umbrella, and a poncho or raincoat. With so many bats flying overhead comes a lot of opportunities for accidents.
When you combine the beauty of being outdoors with a majestic getaway, you get Dismal Canyon! Dismal Canyon is a privately owned nature conservatory named a National Natural Landmark in 1975. It houses slot canyons, bouldering boulders, streams, waterfalls, exotic flora, glow worms, and incredible Native American history. With several points of interest on the canyon floor, you’ll be in awe from beginning to end!
Be sure to check online for the opening date and hours of operation.
Stephen’s Gap Cave Preserve
Jackson County, AL, is the most cave-dense county in the country, and with a huge walk-in entrance, Stephens Gap is one of the most accessible caves to visit on the list. Getting to the cave requires a permit and a moderate 1.4-mile hike to the 143 ft pit. Those with experience and proper gear can rappel into the pit; for the rest of us, an easy scramble down some rocks leads you to one of the most beautiful views you’ll ever see.
Cheaha Resort State Park
Cheaha Resort State Park is the oldest park in Alabama and home to the highest point in the state. The Talladega scenic drive to the park has several spots to pull over and gaze out at Alabama, but don’t stop there. Make your way to the Bunker Observation Tower and Pulpit Rock for even more impressive and instagrammable views. Among the views is a camp store where we found our favorite hiking sticks, several lodging options, and a restaurant perfect for visiting at sunset.
Zenovia is a two time graduate of Alabama A&M University where she earned a B.S. and M.S. in Biology. A former Regulatory Affairs Specialist in the Pharmaceutical Industry, She currently works from home as a Regional Project Coordinator and is the mom to 3 extraordinary boys.