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Sweet home Alabama Where the skies are so blue Sweet home Alabama Lord, I’m comin’ home to you

As sung by Lynyrd Skynyrd

It’s the land that once ran red with blood during the War Between the States. It’s the land where Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and Rosa Parks made their stands against George Wallace and Bull Connors and didn’t flinch. The history of Alabama is as deep and rich as the fertile black soil upon which it was wrought.

The Cotton State offers an abundance of natural and cultural touchstones that allow locals and visitors to commune with, learn from, or simply enjoy the spirits of the past and the natural wonders of the present. 

From the high rocky shoals of Northern Alabama to the fertile farmland of the mid-state, to the white sand shores of Mobile, and the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama has a little to offer outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Below are some must-visit sites and National Parks when visiting the Heart of Dixie.

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park: Decades even before the great war that would come to the South after its secession from the Union, another battle raged, and its place in history is memorialized at this national military park near Daviston, Alabama. One early spring day in 1814, General (and later President) Andrew Jackson‘s army of over three thousand men attacked Chief Menawa’s force of around one thousand Red Stick Creek warriors near a horseshoe-shaped bend of the Tallapoosa River. The battle, which saw the loss of over 800 Red Stick lives, effectively ended the “Creek War.” The Treaty of Fort Jackson, which officially ended the war, also ceded some 23 million acres of indigenous land to the United States government. Out of this, Alabama was created and joined the Union in 1819.

Photo Courtesy NPS

Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail: One of the most important battles ever waged in the continental United States and possibly the world, did not use bullets or cannons, generals or cavalry, but rather only the dogged will, heart and soul of everyday Americans fighting for equal rights. That fight is commemorated in part here on this 54-mile historical trail through Alabama. ‏‏‎Established by Congress in 1996, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail memorializes the people who marched and the route they took in protest for their voting rights in 1965. Led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., non-violent supporters, black and white, marched from Selma to Montgomery for the right to vote, eventually winning these hard-fought rights with the establishment of the Voting Rights Act later that year. This national historic trail preserves forever the memory of those who marched, their words and deeds, in this most important front in the ongoing fight for equality in America.

Photo Courtesy NPS

Little River Canyon National Preserve: Near the southern tip of the mighty Appalachian Mountain chain, one will find this northern Alabama gem. As beautiful as it is wild (even today!) Little River is unique as it flows for much of its length atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama, bordering Tennessee and neighboring Georgia. Its singular uplands, bluffs, pools, waterfalls, canyon rim sandstone boulders and cliffs contained in this national preserve offers a stunningly wide range of recreational activities for visitors including swimming, fishing, climbing, and world-class whitewater rafting during peak seasons. Additionally, one can simply hike the picturesque surrounding forest, have a quiet picnic in the meadows or take a leisurely drive around Canyon Rim Drive for a scenic overlook or two. There is no shortage of activities to engage in when visiting this gem of the National and Alabama Parks system!

Photo Courtesy NPS

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