This Alabama park is part of DeKalb County known for its lakes, caves, mountains and waterfalls which means plenty of opportunities for hiking, exploring, swimming and boating.
And it’s only 8 miles northeast of Fort Payne and 15 minutes from the historic town of Mentone where you’ll find many antique stores, restaurants, arts & crafts shops and galleries.
DeSoto State Park contains 3,502 acres of forest, rivers, waterfalls and mountain terrain and lies along the banks of Little River, which flows into nearby Little River Canyon National Preserve.
Visit this historic CCC built state park and explore nature, hike to one of the many beautiful waterfalls, boat, fish, swim and camp out under the stars.
Or spend a night securely tucked up inside one of the many motel rooms, cabins or chalets available inside of the park.
Consider having your wedding or large event here, they have many package options worth exploring.
Here are a few of the activities that await you at DeSoto State Park:
Swimming at DeSoto State Park
An Olympic sized pool is available seasonally to park visitors. It has a diving board and an ADA chair lift plus changing rooms nearby, lounge chairs and a deck eating area.
You can also swim in Laurel Creek, Little River and in the mountain lake area at the historic AA Miller Dam above DeSoto Falls.
Boating at DeSoto State Park
Canoe, kayak or paddle board on one of the rivers, streams or mountain lake.
Follow Little River as it extends into The Little River Canyon National Preserve, one of the deepest canyons east of the Mississippi.
A boat ramp is available above the AA Miller Dam and you’ll find boat rentals at Miller’s Bend Paddle Shack in the DeSoto Falls area.
Fishing at DeSoto State Park
You can purchase one online here.
Popular catches include bass, bream, perch, trout and crappie. Both traditional fishing and fly fishing can be done in the park.
Trails at DeSoto State Park
DeSoto State Park has 30 miles of trails for walking, hiking and biking; and 11 of them are ideal for mountain biking.
Explore the woodlands, footbridges that cross over streams, spectacular views of the river and of the waterfalls.
Keep an eye out for unusual rock formations, plants, seasonal wildflowers and the beautiful fall colors of the changing leaves.
Hike up to DeSoto Falls, named for the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto, and enjoy a picnic and a swim.
Also check out the other waterfalls located throughout the park, but keep in mind that they may seem dry during the summer and into early fall.
Here are a few of the popular trails at DeSoto State Park:
- Blue Trail – A 1.4 mile moderate trail along Laurel Creek.
- Never Neverland – A moderate 3 mile loop past wildflowers, rock croppings and wetland areas.
- CCC Road – This unpaved road was originally built by the CCC during the late 1930s and is perfect for mountain biking. On your ride you’ll see unfinished bridges, culverts and walls.
- DeSoto Scout Trail – This historic trail starts at Comer Scout Reservation and follows the West Fork of Little River through the park and into Little River Canyon National Preserve.
While you’re exploring check out these geocaching spots.
Or, if you’d rather explore on horseback head over to Shady Grove Dude Ranch. They have 800 acres of woods with views of the river ideal for riding, and they are located only 3 miles outside of the park on Lookout Mountain.
If you’re not afraid of heights and would rather view the park from above try ziplining with Screaming Eagle Aerial Adventures.
Wildlife at DeSoto State Park
While surrounded by woods, streams and mountains, you’ll easily spot birds, mammals, reptiles and other types of wildlife during your visit to DeSoto State Park.
Many native and migrating birds frequent the area such as waterfowl, blackbirds, owls, chickadees and woodpeckers.
The Nature Center (Benefield Interpretive Center) located next to the Country Store has live animals and educational programs.
Some of the mammals that you will see on your nature walk are deer, squirrels, foxes, rabbits, opossum and armadillo.
Lodging at DeSoto State Park
There are many accommodations to choose from when deciding to stay overnight at DeSoto State Park.
Wherever you decide to stay you’ll have access to many amenities including a playground, volleyball court, ballfield, large pool and large picnic shelters.
Here is a break down of what is available:
94 full hookup tent or RV sites nestled in the woods, each with their own grill and picnic table.
Nearby comfort stations, showers and coin-operated laundry facilities are located at The Country Store & Information Center.
Snacks, supplies, maps and souvenirs are also available at The Country Store
Primitive Campground & Rustic Cabin
18 wooded sites. Each site is large enough for 2 tents and has a fire ring. The rustic cabin sleeps up to 5, has benches and a table but no heat, electricity or water.
A water spigot, vaulted toilets, grills and picnic shelters are available nearby. And you can use the flush toilets, showers and laundry facilities at the modern campground.
2 backcountry campsites with shelters are available if you want to camp but don’t have a tent.
Fully furnished cabins are available on top of Lookout Mountain. Each has 2 bedrooms, a bath, living room with sleeper sofa and a small kitchen with cookware and utensils.
Rustic CCC Cabins
These rustic cabins were built during the 1930s and are located in the woods and on the mountain.
Each has a bedroom, bath and open concept living room with fireplace and kitchen. Also included are linens, heat, air conditioning and cable tv.
A-frame open concept chalets are also available at DeSoto State Park. Each sleeps 4-5 adults and has a loft area and fireplace.
The Lodge & Mountain Inn Restaurant
25 motel rooms are available at this historic lodge that overlooks Little River. Each room has a mini refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot and cable tv.
This original rustic sandstone Lodge was built during the 1930s and was used by the CCC as a dining room and ballroom. Today it features a restaurant and meeting rooms.
Pets at DeSoto State Park
Pets are welcome inside of the park as long as they remain leashed.
DeSoto State Park
7104 DeSoto Parkway NE
Fort Payne, AL 35967
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing some of the waterfalls at DeSoto State Park: