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sun reflected in the lake at joe wheeler state park in alabama

Wheeler Lake at Joe Wheeler State Park. Photo: Park Facebook page.

Joe Wheeler State Park is a recreation area 50 miles west of Huntsville and 27 miles east of Florence in one of the most scenic parts of northwest Alabama.

This 2,550 acre Alabama state park lies adjacent to Wheeler Lake, an impoundment of the Tennessee River.

The park was first established in 1949 and resort features were added during the 1970s.

Today the park features a scenic lodge, convention center and restaurant plus cabins that overlook the river, a large marina with boat slips, trails, golf, tennis and much more.

Joe Wheeler State Park makes up three separate and distinct areas on both sides of the Tennessee River and next to Wheeler Dam.

The first area contains the Lodge, Marina, lake and campsites; the second the Group Lodge, on the Elk River.

The third area has cabins, a boat launch and recreational area on the Tennessee River near the dam.


A large day use area near the lake has a sandy beach, 3 large picnic pavilions and an ADA accessible fishing pier. Trails, golf, basketball and tennis courts, a large playing field and a playground are close by.

While visiting Joe Wheeler State Park, explore the scenic trails, take a relaxing pontoon ride on the lake and sample some of the yummy food at Daniella’s Restaurant.

Here are some of the fun activities that await you at Joe Wheeler State Park:

Swimming at Joe Wheeler State Park

There are plenty of options available to cool off on a hot summer day at Joe Wheeler State Park. A nice sandy beach on Wheeler Lake is perfect for swimming, floating or lying in the sun. And there’s a pool and splashpad at the Lodge. Or, you can get your feet wet and test out the waters in one of the creeks or rivers.

Boating at Joe Wheeler State Park

Bring your own boat, rent one at the marina or sail in on your yacht or other large watercraft. The full service marina has 64 transient slips (with electric, water and cable tv connections) and 184 permanent slips. They also have boat rentals – pontoons, kayaks, paddle boats and bass boats.

And five boat ramps are conveniently located throughout the park for easier access to the water. They are located on the First Creek, Second Creek, near the cabin area, near Wheeler Dam and near the Elk River Group Lodge.

Every October, Joe Wheeler State Park hosts the Fall Rendezvous of boaters traveling the Great Loop – the continuous waterway that starts on the east coast and spreads inland across the Great Lakes, rivers and around the Gulf of Mexico. These travelers stop at the park for a few days of events, seminars and good food at the Lodge’s Convention Center.

Fishing at Joe Wheeler State Park

Joe Wheeler State Park is also a very popular fishing spot with excellent tournament facilities and several access points to the water. Fish from shore, boat or on the large ADA accessible fishing pier.

Popular catches include striped bass, bream, catfish and crappie; smallmouth are plentiful in the lake and largemouth in the two creeks. Remember to pick up a license ahead of time. You can purchase one online here.

Hiking Trails at Joe Wheeler State Park

Walking, hiking and mountain biking are popular on the 16 miles of peaceful scenic trails inside of Joe Wheeler State Park. These trails are well marked, accessible for all ages and dog friendly.

They wind through the park and along the shoreline for spectacular views of the lake, rivers, trees, flowers and wildlife.

Here are a couple of the park’s popular trails:

  • Joe Wheeler Blue Trail Loop – An easy one mile trail that follows the shoreline along Wheeler Lake and has a few stunning overlooks.
  • Awesome Trail – An easy 9.6 mile loop around the park that is wide enough for walkers and bikers to share.
  • Jimmy Sims Birding Trail – Another easy trail, 5 miles long.

Golf at Joe Wheeler State Park

The General Golf Course is an 18-hole course designed by Earl Stone with rolling hills and river views.

There is also a 18-hole Disc Golf course.

Wildlife at Joe Wheeler State Park

young deer grazing at joe wheeler state park in alabamaBirdwatchers and nature lovers will get their fill at Joe Wheeler State Park. Native, migrating and many species of waterfowl are easily spotted inside of the park.

And deer are everywhere inside of this beautiful park! Other wildlife that you can expect to see are squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and opossum.

If you’d like to see more wildlife head over to The Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in nearby Decatur. This game sanctuary is a protected habitat for many species including the endangered whooping crane.

Since 1938, this refuge has provided protection for 1,000s of wintering waterfowl each year.

Lodging at Joe Wheeler State Park

Interested in spending the night at Joe Wheeler State Park? You’ll have plenty of choice in where you stay – a resort lodge, cottages, cabins or campground.

The park has modern and primitive campsites available. There are 116 modern campsites, 110 with full hookups.

Each site has a picnic table and fire grill and bathhouses, laundry facilities and a camp store are conveniently located nearby.

The 10 lakeside cottages have 2 or 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, tv and spectacular views of the lake. The Fisherman’s Cabin has a full kitchen, dining room, living room, 2 bedrooms and bath and is located next to the boat launch on First Creek and is pet friendly.

Another 30 cabins are located near the dam and were built during the 1930s when the dam was being constructed. These cozy cabins can accommodate between 4 to 15 adults depending upon the size of the cabin.

Elk River Group Lodge is a great choice for large group get-togethers. It has 13 separate bedrooms, a large kitchen and living room area and can accommodate parties of up to 30 people.

The large hotel – Joe wheeler Resort Lodge – has 75 rooms, each with its own balcony and views of the lake. All of the rooms have a small refrigerator, microwave and coffee pot. Some of the rooms are pet friendly.

Pets at Joe Wheeler State Park

Pets are allowed in designated areas only as long as they are leashed and cleaned up after. Some hotel rooms and cabins are pet friendly.

Park Location

Joe Wheeler State Park
4401 McLean Drive
Rogersville, AL 35652-2916
Phone: 800.544-5639




Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Joe Wheeler State Park: