During the month of May, I took a few days of vacation from work to visit Joe Wheeler State Park with my family. I have always enjoyed going to Joe Wheeler for work projects, but had never spent time enjoying the park as a guest instead of employee. Springtime fishing with my dad is one of my favorite things to do, so I was excited for the chance to try our luck on the Tennessee River.
In Part I of this month's series, I'll tell you about my favorite things to see and explore at Rickwood Caverns State Park. Part II will feature memories from my recent family fishing vacation to Joe Wheeler State Park. Follow along, and then plan an adventure of your own!
It seems like everywhere I look there are bright blooms erupting into spring landscapes. That’s one of the many reasons I was excited my March escape was to DeSoto State Park. Nestled on Lookout Mountain, the park and adjacent public lands are full of opportunities to experience Alabama scenery at its finest.
My second monthly getaway took me to the Marshall County Majestic 3. I spent a long weekend exploring Buck’s Pocket, Cathedral Caverns, and Lake Guntersville State Parks. January was a busy month, so I was grateful for the ready-made M3 adventure package featuring a picnic at Buck’s Pocket, cave tour at Cathedral Caverns, and overnight accommodations with a breakfast buffet at Lake Guntersville. As much as I love trip planning, a ready-made escape was just what I needed. If you can relate, be sure to enter this month’s drawing for a chance to win an M3 Package plus additional passes to Cathedral Caverns.
This month’s escape took me to Spanish Fort, Alabama, a great town in the heart of the Southern Coastal Plain. Although I only had time for a two-day, one-night adventure January 6-7, 2016, I had a blast exploring one of “Alabama’s Ten Natural Wonders” thanks to my fellow Alabama State Parks staff and the great folks at 5 Rivers. The Mobile Delta is one of the most biologically diverse areas in North America, but until recently I knew very little about this water-filled wonder some call “America’s Amazon.” The delta is a complex network of tidally influenced rivers, creeks, bays, lakes, wetlands, and bayous. It spans more than 200,000 acres of swamps, river bottomlands and marshes. Where the Mobile, Spanish, Tensaw, Apalachee and Blakeley rivers flow into Mobile Bay, there are two fantastic access points to the waters of the Mobile Delta: Meaher State Park and 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center.
Welcome to the Eighth Day Escape adventure series and contest by Parks Explorer! Throughout this year, Parks Explorer will share trip ideas, staff stories, activity suggestions, and much more from each Alabama State Park. These monthly posts will be personal accounts of traveling Park Naturalist Emily Vanderford, where she details her park adventures and experiences in the unique natural areas across the state. While reading about park adventures is not nearly as meaningful as experiencing them first-hand, Parks Explorer wants you to know just how many opportunities there are for you to enjoy Alabama the beautiful.
Have you ever participated in a citizen science project which allows members of the general public to become part of a research team collecting important data about our natural world? Each year beginning Deccember 14, the Audubon Society hosts the annual Christmas Bird Count. The event lasts through the first week of January and is conducted in locations across North, South, and Central America. Birders of all skill levels gather to collect data and be part of this ongoing wildlife census which enables many organizations to have useful information which guide conservation decisions. You can read more from the Audubon Society about the History of the Christmas Bird Count.
The holiday season often comes with hustle and bustle that can take away much needed relaxation with family and friends. This article from Children and Nature Network recommends a great antidote to a hectic schedule -- spending time in nature! A short walk in the woods has been shown to have stress-relieving impact along with a host of other benefits.
With the Thanksgiving holiday a couple days away, it is only fitting that Parks Explorer take time to show appreciation for the incredible biodiversity of Alabama. Because of its warm, moist climate and topographical diversity, Alabama provides habitat to the fifth largest number of plant and animal species in the United States. In addition to year-round residents and species that use Alabama for spring breeding grounds, Alabama serves as host to many wildlife species during fall and winter as they migrate to warmer places until spring.