Campground Review - Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

The lookout at the top of the park has beautiful views.
While our home state is Mississippi, we find ourselves camping in neighboring Alabama a lot.  Sure, Mississippi has great state parks and camping, but Alabama is a unique state in many ways.  Alabama has rocky, mountain terrain.  There are many beautiful lakes as well as beaches.  It is a nature lovers dream in many ways.  We recently camped at Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville, Alabama.  We loved it so much that we are already planning a return trip.  What made this park so special?
We were on campsite 7 at Monte Sano, and it was a great site.

Campground Review - Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, Alabama

Certainly traveling during COVID-19 makes things a little different, but state parks are open and an excellent travel option right now.  If you are looking for ways to get outdoors and socially distance, pack up and visit a state park.  While you are at it, put Monte Sano on your list.  Monte Sano is Spanish for "Mountain of Heath", and it was just what the doctor ordered during this season of life!

Our site was wooded and secluded.  I loved drinking my coffee there in the morning!

Large Shaded Campsites

One of the big appeals of this state park is the large and shady campsites.  While we camped in the fall and leaves were beginning to change and fall, we were beneath a large shaded canopy within the campground.  This will really help when camping in the heat of the summer.  The views are stunning, and I really enjoyed sitting outside and drinking my coffee and enjoying meals at our site.

There are only 15 sites throughout the park that have full hookups.  We were able to get a full hook up site.  We were on site 7.  It was easy to get into and had a well-placed fire pit and picnic table.  

However, there are 59 sites that have both water and electric and 21 primitive tent camping sites.  Even if you didn't get a full hook up site, there are 2 dump stations located at the campground.  We have large enough tanks, that we can manage a three day weekend with no problem.  

Monte Sano does offer some buddy sites that a pair of campers can enjoy together.

Monte Sano also offers buddy sites.  These are the double capacity sites where two RVs can be right next to one another.  My only thoughts about these sites are how close they are together.  I feel like it would not leave a lot of room for your camping rugs and awnings.  We looked at these while we were there and felt like we would still prefer to be on 2 sites that were close to each other.  The buddy sites would work well for small RV's or someone in an RV with a companion in a tent.  

Alabama has also implemented a new online campground reservation tool for all of the state parks.  This has streamlined the process of campground reservations throughout their state park system, and I appreciated being able to use this when planning for our trip.

Camp Store and Staff

While Monte Sano is just outside of Huntsville, there is a small and well-stocked camp store at the entrance of the campground.  I appreciate having this convenience factor.  Not every campground offers a camp store.  They have the basic necessities that would keep you from running into town.  There is also firewood for sale at the store as well as from the camp host site.  

The staff was friendly and helpful.  We checked out a night early due to a hurricane in the Gulf that was threatening potential tornadoes on our last night.  While we had paid to camp 3 nights, they refunded us for the 1 night we didn't stay.  Sure, it was only $36 and some change, but I appreciate this!

The Japanese Gardens at Monte Sano should not be missed.

Japanese Gardens

Near the entrance of the campground is the Japanese Garden.  It is well manicured and a lovely little walk through space.  We really enjoyed taking in all of the shady paths and architectural details.  I highly recommend taking in the gardens.  It is an easy walk and very nice!

The tea house was a later addition to the garden and really adds a lot of charm.

A local resident, Mr. Robert Black, started this garden as a hobby with his children in 1988.  Since this time a tea house was added in 1991.  Today, the Japanese Garden hosts seasonal events like the Spring Festival and Autumn Celebration.  Cultural events are hosted during these times and non-campers can participate in these events as well.  Volunteers continue to maintain this garden, and it is a nice excursion within the park.

There were benches and stops along the way of this trail at Monte Sano State Park in north Alabama.

Trails and Activities

Monte Sano has quite a few trails throughout the park.  They are well marked and well maintained.  We took advantage of the South Loop.  It is a 3.5-mile hike.  It is shady and not too strenuous.  There are little benches and lookouts along the way.  Be prepared to meet mountain bikers along the way.  

The South Loop Trail was well marked and maintained throughout.

There are over 22 miles of hiking and biking trails throughout the park.  There are easy ones to more difficult, but there is something for everyone.  There is also disk golf available for both campers and paid entry guests.  

The large playground facility is practically brand new and well maintained.  We also noticed a smaller play area located within the campground.  

Finally, the park offers a Planetarium.  There are weekly events hosted at 7:30 each Saturday night.  We would have really enjoyed this, but I believe COVID has affected the use of this facility.  And we left a night early.  However, events are hosted by the von Braun Astronomical Society.  This is a group that started in 1954 and now includes both amateur and professional astronomers.  


The campground offers a security gate with an entry code as well as a well-staffed gate at the entrance of the park.  Both these points made us feel safe and secure there.   Everything was clean and well maintained throughout.  Trails were well marked and clear.  I was impressed with how clean everything was throughout the park.  

Nearby Huntsville

There are plenty of things to do just a short drive outside of the park in Huntsville.  We weren't able to do everything that is available, but we packed quite a bit in for a short stay!

The Huntsville Botanical Gardens offers koi ponds, shaded fern trails, and play areas for children.  We loved our visit there!

The scarecrows were a lot of fun to see at the Hunstville Botanical Gardens.

The Huntsville Botanical Gardens should not be missed.  Since we were there in the fall, we enjoyed the scarecrow displays throughout the gardens.  Each one was a little different and so unique.  There are large play areas for children and a butterfly garden.  Check out their seasonal events and displays when planning your trip.  

The artists at Guadalupe Robinson had lots of birds that our son enjoyed watching while I shopped there. 

The butter dish I purchased from Guadalupe Robinson is just right in my kitchen.  Stop by and meet this artist and see her work at the Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment Center.

Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment is a fun spot to visit.  They offer everything from food to art, classes, and more throughout the year.  I do recommend researching their site a bit before a visit.  The spaces were a little confusing to navigate, and we were a bit lost.  I feel like I cheated myself on this experience by not doing more homework before our visit.  We did visit a charming pottery studio where I purchased a butter dish and our son enjoyed watching some birds.  Be sure to visit Guadalupe Robinson if you go.  While there, stop in for a Pizzelle's Confections.  They are located a few doors down from Guadalupe, and their chocolates and Italian sodas are amazing.  Our friends also enjoyed some tea from Piper and Leaf.  I would love to visit this spot again but plan my visit so that I can fully take advantage of all it has to offer.

The US Space and Rocket Center is also located in Huntsville.  We didn't get to do this on our recent trip.  However, I have chaperoned a field trip there previously.  It has so many different experiences to offer every age group.  If you have time, it would be worth it to incorporate some time here.  

Monte Sano is the type of park that offers enough activities that you could easily camp and remain within these facilities for your entire stay.  I would have been happy right there.  It is beautiful and relaxing with plenty to do.  However, if you want to venture out to Huntsville, it is quick and easy to do.  This was one of our best camping trips that we did this year if not ever!  And that is saying a lot in 2020!  Put Monte Sano on your list for the upcoming year.  It is a park worth visiting again and again!

Check out the other spots that we love to camp on my Camping Map.  I've linked each spot to a campground review.  I'll be sharing some of our favorite camping spots in Mississippi and Alabama in October.  This is the perfect time to start planning for your next year of camping or sneak in a last-minute trip or two!

Until next time...

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