Gulf State Park Enhances Visitor Experience

Located in the City of Gulf Shores on the coast of Alabama, white sun-kissed beaches, surging surf, seagulls, and seashells greet you at Gulf State Park.

Gulf State Park Enhances Visitor Experience © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf State Park Enhances Visitor Experience © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Inside Gulf State Park there is a championship golf course, new beach pavilion, rental cottages, tennis courts, camp sites, hiking trails, Zip Line, and a fishing pier that is 20-feet wide and extends 1,512 feet into the Gulf.

And now another enhancement to this popular state park may soon become reality.

The Gulf State Park Enhancement Project has applied to team with Hilton Worldwide for a planned lodge that was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan and is part of a broader effort at the park to be an international model of economic and environmental sustainability in the wake of the damaging 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, according to a Gulf State Park news release.

Hilton would support the booking of meetings, weddings and vacations, helping to welcome everyone, and improve public access to the park. The lodge, as part of Gulf State Park’s enhancement plans, will demonstrate sustainable best practices for outdoor recreation, education, and hospitable accommodations.

“We are impressed with Hilton’s LightStay initiative, which protects and preserves the environment where its hotels operate,” said Cooper Shattuck, spokesman for the park’s restoration project.

Gulf State Park Enhances Visitor Experience © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf State Park Enhances Visitor Experience © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Moreover, Hilton can leverage its impressive customer loyalty program to help the lodge reach its economic potential.”

“Hilton’s clear sustainability goals for reductions in energy use, carbon output, waste output, and water use are consistent with the Gulf State Park Enhancement Project,” Shattuck added.

“They would make a great partner and are consistent with the vision to make Gulf State Park international model of economic and environmental sustainability.”

The application process takes several months before it can be final. But the filing is a symbolic first step toward rebuilding what will be called the Gulf State Park Lodge, the name a nostalgic tribute to the facility’s predecessor that generations of Alabamans enjoyed.

The Gulf State Park Enhancement Project will provide ecologically sensitive enhancements to the 6,150-acre park located on the Gulf Coast. This stretch of coastline runs from Gulf Shores to Orange Beach, and is operated by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Gulf State Park Enhances Visitor Experience © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf State Park Enhances Visitor Experience © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Gulf State Park Enhancement Project consists of enhancing the visitor experience, restoring the dunes, building an environmental information center, creating a research and education center, and rebuilding the lodge, among other visitor benefits.

Consisting of 6,150 acres with two miles of sugar white sand beaches and three fresh water lakes, Gulf State Park has a modern full-service campground, cabins, cottages, back country trails, and the largest fishing pier in the Gulf of Mexico.

The park also features an interactive nature center, nationally recognized scenic nature trail, new tennis courts, beautiful beach pavilion, 18-hole Refuge Golf Course, and a 900-acre lake for fishing in the picnic area on Lake Shelby.

Gulf State Park offers a 496-site campground with pull-through, back-in, water front, and ADA accessible sites, and 11 modern bathhouses. All sites are big-rig friendly and have water, sewer, and 50/30/20- amp electric service, a paved camping pad, picnic table, and pedestal grill. Tents are also welcome in the campground.

A laundry facility is located beside the camp store. There are two playgrounds located in the campground.

Gulf State Park’s Pier opened July 23, 2009. The largest pier on the Gulf of Mexico, it is 1,540 feet in length and has an area of 41,800 square feet.

Gulf State Park Enhances Visitor Experience © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf State Park Enhances Visitor Experience © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The pier boasts features that were not available on the old pier, destroyed in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan, such as indoor seating for concession area, indoor retail area for tackle and souvenirs, comfort stations at the midpoint of the pier, and wheelchair accessible rail fishing. The pier has 2,448 feet of fishing space available along the rails.

Worth Pondering…

Walk the Beach…

To find a treasure.

To exercise the limbs and to soothe the soul.

To marvel at the birds that play against the sky.

To watch the waves dance.

To think…

To reflect…

—Peter Dueber

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