Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

#6 in Best Things To Do in Gulf Shores
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Key Info

12295 State Highway 180

Price & Hours



Beaches, Natural Wonders, Free, Parks and Gardens, Hiking, Recreation Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend


  • 5.0Value
  • 2.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Taking its name from the French phrase meaning "safe harbor," Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is home to a variety of stunning wildlife. Each year, migratory songbirds stop on the refuge's land to rest and eat before continuing their migration along the Alabama coastline. In addition to the various birds, Bon Secour also preserves endangered species like sea turtles and the Alabama beach mouse. To take in the wildlife, visitors can hike one of the refuge's trails, kayak or canoe through its waters or try their luck at fishing.

Past visitors praised the refuge's well-kept trails and its gorgeous scenery. Other enjoyed spotting the variety of wildlife; some were lucky enough to see alligators. In addition to sturdy walking shoes, travelers should bring plenty of sunscreen and bug spray.

Bon Secour is open year-round from sunrise to sunset, and is located about 10 miles west of Gulf Shores Public Beach. Its visitor center is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is no fee to enter the refuge, nor is there a fee to enjoy public programs, such as wildlife talks. Check the website for more information and a list of events.

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Time to Spend
#1 Gulf State Park

Outdoor adventurers flock to Gulf State Park, which sits just a mile east of the public beach. Along with opportunities for swimming, fishing and paddling at Lake Shelby, the park also boasts 28 miles of trails (15 of which make up the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail) that weave throughout. Visitors can also take advantage of the park's guided tours or stop by the nature center to learn about the local flora and fauna. Budget-minded vacationers should check out the park's rental cabins or its campgrounds, while those traveling with pets can make use of the on-site dog park. Those who don't want to rough it can book a room at one of the nearby hotels.

Travelers regularly call the park beautiful and praise the clean facilities. Hikers enjoyed the park's trails and appreciate the water fountains located along the paths. Meanwhile, RVers offer rave reviews of the size of the grounds and the on-site amenities.

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Courtesy of Alabama State Parks
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