In northern Alabama, reservoirs attract thousands of fishing enthusiasts each year. Fishing and other water sports also lure visitors along the Gulf of Mexico.
Most of the units administered by the National Park Service are linked to Alabama's rich history. Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site preserves some of the institute's original brick buildings as well as the home of Booker T. Washington, who in 1881 founded the noted college for blacks. The school today remains an active university that owns most of the property within the national historic site. Horseshoe Bend National Military Park is the site where in 1814 the forces of General Andrew Jackson broke the power of the Upper Creek alliance of Native Americans and opened large parts of Alabama and Georgia to settlement.
In the northeastern corner of Alabama is Russell Cave National Monument. A small cave there served as a home for Native Americans for a span of more than 8000 years. A small portion of the Natchez Trace Parkway crosses northwestern Alabama on its route between Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez, Mississippi. The parkway generally follows a trail first established by Native Americans and later heavily used by early settlers. Little River Canyon National Preserve is noted for its spectacular landscapes and canyons created by the river.
There are four national forests in Alabama. The largest forest is Talladega National Forest, which is made up of one section in west central Alabama and another, a mountainous section, in northeastern Alabama. The northeastern section encircles Cheaha State Park, which is the site of Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in the state. William B. Bankhead National Forest is located in northwestern Alabama. Conecuh National Forest is situated in southern Alabama. The smallest of Alabama's national forests is Tuskegee National Forest, which is situated in the eastern part of the state.
Alabama's state park system offers a great variety of scenic and recreational attractions. DeSoto State Park, not far from Fort Payne, is the site of one of the deepest canyons east of the Mississippi River. At Huntsville is Monte Sano State Park, which lies on the crest of Monte Sano and includes Natural Well, a great circular hole whose depth has never been determined. Cheaha State Park, near Anniston, is surrounded by Talladega National Forest. The largest state park is Oak Mountain State Park, which covers an area of 4023 hectares (9940 acres). It is located near Birmingham. Gulf State Park lies on Alabama's Gulf Coast southeast of Mobile. Rickwood Caverns State Park, located at Warrior, north of Birmingham, is known for its underground caverns, with limestone formations believed to be 260 million years old, and its underground pools.
The Ave Maria Grotto, located at Southern Benedictine College near Cullman, contains miniature reproductions of the Vatican and of temples, mosques, and churches from around the world. Bellingrath Gardens, set on a bluff near Mobile, are filled with thousands of colorful flowering plants.
The Boll Weevil Monument, at Enterprise, was erected "in profound appreciation of the boll weevil, and what it has done to herald prosperity," after the insect had destroyed most of the 1910 cotton crop and farmers had turned as a result to the cultivation of peanuts.
Birmingham's Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens, used as headquarters by General J. H. Wilson in his raid through the state in 1865, is one of the most frequently visited sites associated with the American Civil War (1861-1865). Another is the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery, the home of President Jefferson Davis during the early months of the Confederacy.
The State Capitol in Montgomery is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the nation. It served as the first capitol of the Confederacy.
Ivy Green, an ivy-covered frame cottage in Tuscumbia, was the birthplace and childhood home of Helen Keller, the renowned author and lecturer.
A huge statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the patron of metalworkers, stands on Red Mountain overlooking the city of Birmingham. The 55-foot statue is mounted on a 120 foot tower and is said to be the largest iron statue in the world.
The Civil Rights Memorial, in Montgomery, honors 40 people who lost their lives in support of the civil rights movement between 1954 and 1968. The monument was designed by architect Maya Lin, who also designed the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C..