DeSoto State Park features more than 30 miles of trails atop Lookout Mountain in the northeastern corner of the state and was recently at the top of a travel website’s list of the 50 “most underrated” state parks in the U.S. Walking one of those trails – or driving to easily accessible spots such as DeSoto Falls – is the perfect way to enjoy this year’s late arrival of colorful fall foliage.
“We were thrilled that CashNetUSA.com recognized DeSoto as Alabama’s ‘most underrated’ state park,” said Park Superintendent Josh Hughes. “We appreciate all the recognition that our park receives, including being named by TripAdvisor.com as a Hall of Fame attraction for receiving a Certificate of Excellence for at least five straight years. We know we’re not exactly a secret, but I’m not sure everyone realizes everything we have to offer.”
The 3,502-acre DeSoto State Park was developed in the late 1930s, thanks to the hard work of the Civilian Conservation Corps created during the Great Depression. CCC workers made many natural enhancements to the park that have withstood the test of time and Alabama State Park Division employees have built on that legacy. DeSoto – one of six resort state parks in the system – has multiple lodging options, including mountain chalets, log and rustic cabins, motel rooms, an improved campground with 94 full hookup tent and recreational vehicle sites. There are also primitive camping sites for tents and two back-country campsites with shelters.
It’s easy to go online to plan a visit (alapark.com/DSP-plan-your-trip) or book a room or campsite (alapark.com/desoto-state-park-reservations) for a single night or several weeks at DeSoto. To make a reservation by phone, call (256) 845-5380 or (800) 760-4089 for camping information. Park staff can also offer suggestions for great ways to spend your time at the park by calling (256) 845-5380.
“Anyone looking for a beautiful, peaceful place to spend a day or a month would be well rewarded by coming to DeSoto State Park,” said Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “The park staff works hard to make a visit to DeSoto a wonderful experience and we’re happy to receive high marks from our visitors. With the Little River Canyon National Preserve and the quaint town of Mentone nearby, there is so much to see and do. I hope people will take an opportunity to enjoy the park and the surrounding area.”
DeSoto State Park is known for its scenery, notably the 104-foot DeSoto Falls and the many other seasonal waterfalls in the park. The prime seasons for viewing the waterfalls are late fall, spring and winter – obviously depending on rainfall in the park.
“We have some autumn color coming in now,” Mr. Hughes said, “and usually the peak time for us has been between the third week of October and the first part of November. We can’t be too specific about the absolute best time to visit during the fall, so we just say come check out the leaves and keep coming for a different experience every time!”
A weekly fall foliage report for DeSoto State Park is available at www.alapark.com/parks/desoto-state-park/fall-color.
DeSoto State Park is at 7104 DeSoto Parkway NE, Fort Payne. The park trails and picnic areas are open from dawn to dusk. The country store is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and the lodge front desk is open 24/7 all year.