Desoto State Park – AL
Desoto Falls State Park has been on my bucket list of campgrounds since we bought our camper. This was the perfect time to go with the leaves changing colors.
Desoto State Park is located atop Lookout Mountain, just inside the northern Alabama/Georgia line. This campground is not far from Cloudland Canyon State Park. Desoto includes a gated campground with 94 sites and 25 cabins. The camp store was well stocked, but happened to be out of firewood this weekend. During the summer season they have an Olympic-size pool for a daily fee. The state park also has a restaurant that serves a traditional seafood buffet, steak dinner, or general menu items. Majority of the sites in the campground made of crushed gravel and full hook up. The center of the campground has large pull-thru sites. The bathrooms are located in the middle of the loops. We did not have cell phone service (Verizon and AT&T), however, figured out Saturday afternoon that the park does have WiFi. The trail maps need some improvement, see below.
Our site was level, however we saw others that were not. What we liked about site 30 was the large yard space to the left and behind the camper. I was pleasantly surprised by how large the pad was. From the pictures online I thought that when stepping out our camper door we would only have three feet. The rock fire pits were located off the pad. It was a nice change to the usual metal pits. Site 30 also had four trees located near the fire pit that were perfect to put up multiple hammocks.
Desoto State Park has over 30 miles of trails, but to get to the locations we visited– you had to drive. The must see for the trip was Desoto Falls along with A. A. Miller Dam. This was about twenty minutes (7 miles) away from the campground. We headed there first, knowing it would be crowded. I had my heart set on getting a photo of the 92 foot waterfall from the bottom, however we did not find the trail to get to the bottom (we also did not try that hard to find it.) This is a large swimming hole in the summer and some daring adventurers even cliff jump from the top. The parking lot is fairly small, but most people don’t stay long. A short walk from the parking lot will get you to multiple areas of water access and overlooks.
We chose to not bring the dogs to any of the falls and overlooks knowing that they would be crowded. Camping with dogs can be great, but sometimes they just have to hang out in that camper we got for them! Knowing there was a lot to see and do, we headed on to the next stop. About twenty minutes from Desoto Falls (10 miles past the campground) we headed to Little River Canyon. The camp-store was advertising that the Little River Canyon National Preserve was hosting their fall festival on Saturday. We had BBQ from a food truck at the Nature Center and continued on to the falls.
Once across the bridge there is a large parking lot on the right to access the falls. We first headed down the boardwalk to get a good view. You can also access a path to get down to the water near the large bridge. The last view of the falls is from the top of the bridge. There is a pedestrian walkway with benches to look south down the river.
Another must see is the Little River Canyon Rim Parkway with all the overlooks and rock formations. This scenic drive includes nine overlooks and we stopped at three of them: Little River Falls Overlook, Lynn Overlook, and the mushroom rock. The road is about 22 miles long, we turned around after the mushroom rock (halfway).
On the way back to Desoto Campground we stopped for a couple minutes to check out Sallie Howard Memorial Church. The church, which was built into a boulder is right next to the state park and open to the public.
This was our first trip in Alabama, at the perfect time of year. I would love to come back and swim at Desoto Falls. My only complaints are the roads going into the State Park were pretty rough on the truck/camper. We followed our GPS, there is possibly a smoother ride out a different direction. Desoto Campground checkout time is 11 a.m., we are used to 1 or 3 p.m. checkouts in Georgia. This earlier checkout time was a bummer because it seemed to take away from having another half-day at the campground.
Things to do next time: swim in the falls, visit the ccc museum, hike more!
Things we learned:
1. Still learning that hard lesson about how easily the awning can break. We had a mobile technician come to our house and replace the broken awning arm. 800$ later – everything is good! See how we broke our awning here.
2. Full hookup is such a luxury! We were able to get our tanks nice and clean without worrying about holding up a line. Hopefully this isn’t the last trip of the year, but if it is– we have piece of mind that our tanks are clean.
3. Dogs don’t understand daylight savings time.
Down the mountain in Ft. Payne are several stores that sell socks by the bag full and T shirts. Ft. Payne is also home to the country music group Alabama. There is a museum in town dedicated to them but usually not busy. Also there is a little area near Desoto Falls called Mentone that has little shops and restaurants. Mentone also has a ski resort during the winter with man made snow. Or at least they used to. At least the Falls were active. There are times during the summer droughts when there are no water falls. Also to get Wifi there its hit and miss. The wifi is mounted on one side of each bathhouse and you need to be on that side of the house to get a good signal. The campground is open year round but during the winter months the upper loop is closed.
Do you live near there? It’s a great campground to have close by! We only had time to explore on Saturday and wanted to relax some. Thanks for sharing what Mentone has to offer!
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Good Morning Ya’ll ! I see how well you liked Desoto State Park and Campground, we love Desoto as much and go there at least once a year. This year we’ll be there twice, June 3rd for the June Jam Concert in Fort Payne and then July 4th for the fireworks and holiday festivities !
I wanted to simply recommend another great Alabama State Park to you guys. Cheaha State Park, and Campgrounds, yes I said campgrounds, they have two like Desoto. It’s in Delta, Alabama in the Talladega National Forest. An Upper campground, that is on top of Cheaha Mountain and the views from the Event Center viewing deck are to say the least , Spectacular ! Especially at sunset. The lower campground is down in a valley several miles away, hidden in the woods of the Talladega National Forest. It has a lake with a small beach. Fishing , kayaking and just sitting in a swing at the lakeside seems to be the activity of the day….There is lots of walking trails and at Bald Rock overlook, in the upper campground, you can walk from the parking lot by the Lodge, all the way out to the edge of the mountain, walking on a very long elevated walkway, and see a splendiferous view of the valley below !
We stayed in site 36, it was a long pull through and all sites have Full Hook Ups. Check them out , I believe you’ll like visiting there. We live in Rome and travelled US 27 south to Ga 100, to Ga 78 in Tallapoosa then eastward to Heflin, Alabama where we picked up Hwy 431 which went right to Hwy 281, that takes you up the mountain to Cheaha State Park. Let me know if you like it. We hope to go back in early November for the leaf color peeping show thats bound to be awesome !