Located in northeast Alabama on the Tennessee River just east of the town of Guntersville, in Marshall County, Lake Guntersville Resort State Park sits on 6,000 acres of rolling hills overlooking Lake Guntersville. Hiking, picnicking, swimming, and camping are among the many recreational opportunities available to visitors. The state park opened in 1974 and was the premier park in the system at the time. The park and lodge have a staff of 112 people and annual operating expenses of $5.9 million and received 457,000 visitors in 2009. On April 27, 2011, a tornado struck the park, damaging or destroying many of the facilities. After several years of renovation, the park and its facilities are fully functional again.
The park offers a variety of options for overnight visitors. The Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge and Convention Center, which sits atop Taylor Mountain, has 112 rooms and suites as well as meeting and banquet rooms, a full-service restaurant, a swimming pool, hot tubs, and a sauna. Beginning in 2004, the lodge underwent a four-year, $24 million renovation and now features massive stone pillars, exposed wooden beams, and natural stone fireplaces. Other accommodations include 20 mountaintop chalets overlooking the lake and 15 lakeside cottages. The park's two campgrounds offer both modern and primitive camping options both near the water and in heavily wooded areas. The main campground near the beach has 320 sites with amenities, including full water and electric hookups and bath houses nearby. The primitive campground is located on Town Creek and is primarily for tent campers. A wide beach area located near the lodge and the cottages offers pavilions, picnic areas and a fishing pier.
The park's Nature Center offers a series of nature programs throughout the year that includes guided nature hikes, campfire programs, and special events and also has displays of local flora and fauna. Each Saturday morning, a park naturalist leads guided nature hikes that follow moderate trails and take approximately two hours. Visitors are likely to see deer, waterfowl, and eagles and their nests. The park has become well known for its Eagle Awareness weekends, held annually in January and February. Naturalists, speakers, nature programs, guided hikes, and tours focus on the lake's resident bald eagle population.
Fishing is perhaps the park's biggest attraction. Lake Guntersville is nationally famous for its largemouth bass and crappie fishing and has been named as one of the six best largemouth bass lakes to fish in the winter; it has hosted a number of national tournaments. The Town Creek Fishing Center sells fishing licenses, tackle, and other fishing supplies and also rents johnboats, pontoon boats, and canoes. It also has a boat launch.
The park's 36 miles of hiking trails range from short, easy paths to lengthy, difficult trails with extreme elevation changes and rocky hiking conditions. The many trails offer access to the park's natural attractions, including hidden waterfalls, rocky ridges, grand views of Lake Guntersville, caves, and old home sites. Trails range in length from 1/2 mile to 3-1/2 miles and form a network that allows hikers to traverse the park in a number of configurations. A 16-mile long horse trail traverses the park's mountainous terrain and winds up and down steep ridges and valleys. It passes by the remains of old home sites and the ruins of a grist mill.
Thomas V. Ress
Published August 12, 2010
Last updated May 1, 2013