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Gulf State Park’s Nature Center

 Gulf State Park Nature Center is a living museum of plants and animals that are native to the Gulf Coast region.  It is our goal to inspire people to care for the environment by expanding their knowledge of the state’s natural resources through experiences that lead them to understand their connection to the natural world.

Hours
 9:00 am to 4:00 pm 7 days a week 
*Nature Center is closed during regularly scheduled off-site programs such as guided tours of the park.

Fees
$1.00 per vehicle to visit the Nature Center.
All Nature Center activites and programs are free unless otherwise posted.

Contact Information
(251) 948-7275 ext.124 or

gulfnaturecenter.statepark@dcnr.alabama.gov

For Weekly Activities Click Here

 

 
The Nature Center

Ampitheater

 
 
 

Gulf State Park Nature Center strives to meet the needs of our adopted “critters” and our community.  Each year, we welcome thousands of visitors through our doors – many of which are school children visiting the coast for the first time!


Great Horned Owls at Lake Shelby.

We offer many exciting and worthwhile programs.  Our weekly programs include guided nature walks, beach walks, pier walks, and a nature time.  Through these educational programs, we provide a multitude of learning opportunities for children and adults about Alabama’s Gulf Coast. 

                            

  Pitcher plant bog   


                                                 Monarch butterflys resting in a live oak tree.

               
               American Alligator by Roger Reetz                 A curious visitor by Roger Reetz     

 

Additionally, GSP Nature Center works closely with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service to protect Alabama’s sea turtles through the volunteer program known as Share the Beach.  For more details about this program, click on the link below.


            

              
    Loggerhead hatchling by Mike Reynolds                 Baby Loggerhead sea turtle


A pair of Sandwich Terns on Gulf Park beaches...

 

Focus on Flora

Scarlet Hibiscus


The Scarlet hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus), also known as the Scarlet rosemallow, Texas star hibiscus, or Wild red mallow is one of the largest and most beautiful of North American native flowers.  It often causes people to do a double take as it resembles marijuana (Cannabis spp.). The resemblance quickly ends when the plant bursts forth with its humongous flowers in late summer!  The scarlet hibiscus blooms are a spectacular red flower that opens from July through September.  Although these plants can be found from Florida to Mississippi, it was thought to be extinct in Alabama.  In 2005 (the summer after Hurricane Ivan) they were spotted in the Campground along the edge of the marsh and have continued to bloom every year since!

 

 

Chapman’s Butterwort (Pinguicula planifolia)
This beautiful flower is listed  by Alabama Natural Heritage program as extremely rare with only twenty or fewer sites left in Alabama.  The largest site found is right here in Gulf State Park!

 

 

White Screwstem (Bartonia verna)
This tiny flower is also very uncommon and is restricted to poor, moist, acidic soils.  In Alabama, it is found only in Baldwin & Mobile Counties.

 

Sunbonnets (Chaptalia tomentosa)
Beautiful early bloomer promising spring.