Tourism Tuesday June 9, 2020

Alabama Tourism Department Natural Wonders await adventure

OWA and Wind Creek casinos reopen

2020 Alabama tourism conference and welcome center event cancelled

Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports bringing events back to city

Inaugural Alabama Bass Trail 100 Series sells out in less than two days

Drives to cruise this Summer

Explore Alabama’s Outdoor Adventures

Alabama Tourism Partner Pointer


Alabama Tourism Department Natural Wonders await adventure
From the article in the June issue of The Retirement Systems of Alabama’s  Advisor Newsletter

The Alabama Tourism Department has resumed its popular “year of” campaigns after taking a break during the Alabama Bicentennial celebration. Director Lee Sentell credits retired archives director Dr. Ed Bridges with suggesting The Alabama Year of Natural Wonders.

People seeking fresh air can choose from among “20 natural wonders in 2020” that range from hiking sinkholes at the Walls of Jericho just south of the Tennessee line to photographing migrating birds along the Gulf Coast Birding Trail. Many adventures are free.

Water rushing over millions of years carved Little River Canyon east of Fort Payne. Explore rare plants in the Dismals Canyon near Phil Campbell and the Sipsey Wilderness in Northwest Alabama. Walk under the Natural Bridge in Winston County and hike and boat through Bankhead National Forest near Double Springs. Watch in awe as the Black River plunges off Noccalula Falls in Gadsden.

Go underground and explore DeSoto Caverns at Childersburg, Rickwood Caverns in Warrior, and Cathedral Caverns near Woodville. Afterwards, climb the state’s tallest peak at Mount Cheaha in the Talladega National Forest, and hike the nearby Pinhoti Trail.

Paddle the pristine Cahaba River near West Blocton to see rare Cahaba Lilies bloom. Hike through the Red Mountain Park near the heart of Birmingham. Paddle the Tombigbee River near Demopolis to see the mile-long White Cliffs of Epes. Scramble over the Wetumpka Impact Crater that formed 8 million years ago when a meteor as large as Bryant-Denny Stadium struck the earth at a high speed.

White quartz crystal washed down from the Appalachian Mountains over millions of years to form the sugar-white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast. Nearby, five rivers form the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, often called “America’s Amazon,” home to the nation’s greatest diversity of species.

Director Sentell thanks the members of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, through investments in some 150 Gray Media television stations, for spreading the message of the state’s great destinations. This media helped the state last year, for the first time, reach one billion dollars that tourists paid in state and local taxes.

To learn more, visit or request the 2020 Alabama Vacation Guide on the website

OWA and Wind Creek casinos reopen
Alabama’s world-class OWA amusement park and three Wind Creek casinos, all owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, have reopened as of Monday after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Park at OWA reopened on Friday, while the Wind Creek resort-style gaming properties in Atmore, Wetumpka and Montgomery reopened Monday.

All four properties have implemented comprehensive heightened health and safety measures in reopening.


2020 Alabama tourism conference and welcome center event cancelled

To fellow tourism industry members in Alabama:

Because of the ongoing uncertainty as to when health officials will deem it safe for groups and individuals to gather in significant numbers, leaders in the Alabama tourism industry have decided to cancel two important events: the 2020 annual Governor’s Conference, which had been scheduled for the Gulf State Park Lodge, and the Welcome Center retreat.

These decisions were not made easily. We considered postponing or canceling. In the end, the health and safety of our friends and associates in the industry were the most important factors leading to this decision. We are unanimous in agreeing that our industry was strong going into this pandemic. By the same measure, we are confident that the desire for travelers to return to our various hometowns, parks and other destinations will return just as strong.

The Alabama tourism industry was thriving and growing by high single digit percentages each year for the decade that began with the Gulf oil spill. Those who predicted that it would take years for the coast to recover were proven wrong with a banner year the following season. What we are facing now is a much more dire situation, but we believe our product is strong and the demand will return at a high level.

Don’t worry, we will return to the Gulf State Lodge in 2021! And Sweet Home Alabama will emerge on the other side of this challenge stronger than ever.

With high expectations for the year ahead,
Lee Sentell


Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports bringing events back to city
From the article on (WVUA)

Sporting events are not just fun and games when it comes to Tuscaloosa’s economy.

To combat the economic woes of the coronavirus pandemic, the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission is planning to coordinate several events.  The goal is to provide entertainment for local residents, while also giving businesses a much needed boost.

Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission Director of Sports Stan Adams said guests are sorely needed in the city’s hotels.

“We’re going to be filling up the hotels, and I know that everyone, especially the hotels, have been on us,” Adams said.  “We’re trying to do the best we can.”

Fifteen events are planned between June and October, including softball, golf, baseball and bowling.

New guidelines from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey open the door for sporting events.  TTSC officials have agreed to follow strict precautions to protect the health of athletes and spectators.

“Our biggest thing is making sure we’re safe and we’re following all guidelines possible,” Adams said. “We’re just trying to get a restart on Tuscaloosa and just get everything back to some normalcy.”

The first local event in the TTSC lineup is the RISE Golf Tournament of Champions happening June 18 and June 19.

For the complete article please see


Inaugural Alabama Bass Trail 100 Series sells out in less than two days
From the article by Keith Worrall on

Tournament officials announce registration is closed for the inaugural 2021 Alabama Bass Trail (ABT) 100 Series, with all 100 of the available boat entries selling out in 39 hours. The 2021 ABT 100 series gets underway Jan. 9.

Registration for the 2021 ABT 100 Series opened to the public June 1, 2020, and reached its limit within 39 hours. “The Alabama Bass Trail 100 was created to continue efforts to grow the economic impacts of tourism in smaller lakeside communities. We are thrilled to have anglers, including 10 professional anglers, from 12 states competing in these events while showcasing our lakes to the world. I can’t thank the anglers, sponsors and host cities enough for believing in the Alabama Bass Trail 100,” said Kay Donaldson, program director for the Alabama Bass Trail.

According to Donaldson, teams will be traveling from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and Texas to compete in the 2021 ABT 100 series. The Alabama Bass Trail and its tournaments create an estimated economic impact of over $3 million dollars for the state of Alabama annually.

The ABT 100 Series is open to professional and amateur anglers and features three tournaments. Tournament dates and locations for 2021 Alabama Bass Trail 100 Series:

Jan. 9, 2021 Lay Lake / hosted by Shelby County Commission

June 5, 2021 Lake Eufaula / hosted by Eufaula-Barbour Chamber of Commerce

Nov. 20, 2021 Lake Guntersville / hosted by Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Each tournament features a $25,000 guaranteed first place prize and pays 20 places plus a $1,000 big fish totaling $100,000.

For more information go to:

Drives to cruise this Summer
From the article by Kirsten Poletis on

Editors noteNarcity listed six Southern scenic drives as ideal for long summer road trips. Alabama has two locations mentioned in the article. Here are the excerpts from that article.

Magnolia Springs
Address: Oak Street, Magnolia Springs

Why You Need To Go: This picturesque tunnel of oak trees makes for the perfect evening stroll, bike riding path, or relaxing summer drive.

11-Mile Scenic Drive
Address: Little River Canyon Center, 472 Alabama Hwy 35, Fort Payne

Why You Need To Go: This scenic drive is 11 miles of uninterrupted Alabamian beauty, with plenty of lookout spots along the way to stop and admire the views. Waterfalls galore to stop and explore on this one.

For the complete article please see

Explore Alabama’s Outdoor Adventures
From the article by Jaimie Mans on

It’s summertime in Mobile, and you know what that means … time to travel! Although our lives have been turned upside down due to COVID-19, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy all that Alabama has to offer.

Aside from their awe-inspiring beauty, the following outdoor wonders also allow for proper social distancing, while still getting out the stir crazies that have built up over the past few months. Who knows, you might just discover the place of your dreams — right here between the state lines.

If You Want to Stay Close to Home…

Five Rivers: Alabama’s Delta Resource Center
Right here in Spanish Fort resides Alabama’s Delta Resource Center. A brand-new facility, this resource center is a fantastic place to start your outdoor adventure. Home to an exhibit hall, boat tours, theater, hiking trails, picnic areas and canoe and kayak rentals, the Delta Resource Center has it all! To top it off, admission is free 7 days a week from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Gulf Coast Beaches
What’s more relaxing than a day at the beach? Luckily for Mobilians, we don’t have to travel far to experience the luxury that is Alabama beach culture. Ride on down to Gulf Shores, Dauphin Island or Orange Beach for a great family-friendly getaway.

Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
Want a prime place to bird-watch? Hit the trails in Baldwin and Mobile counties, home to over 400 different bird species.

Alabama Scenic River Trail
Stretching 631 miles, the Alabama Scenic River Trail is an adventure in-and-of itself. Beginning in Georgia, this trail will take you through creeks and rivers, woods and cliffs and even bayous in the Delta. If embarked on, the journey ends right in Mobile’s neighborhood at Fort Morgan.

For those canoe and kayak lovers, this trail is the perfect place to get your paddle wet. With many campsites along the water, the Alabama Scenic River Trail passes through six dams, nine lakes, seven rivers and two creeks. If you’re looking for a more relaxed way to get around, the trail is great for motorboating as well.

As for our hikers, the Alabama Scenic River Trail Association provides five trail guide booklets, each highlighting routes through specific parts of the trail, also providing insight into campgrounds and marinas.

If You’re Ready to Travel…

White Cliffs of Epes
Ever seen white limestone? Part of the Selma Chalk formations, these cliffs are made entirely of alabaster limestone, resulting in an ethereal walk along the water in Sumter County.

Wetumpka Crater
Located 12 miles northeast of Montgomery, come see where earth and space collided. This comet-created-crater exhibits the most physical impact Alabama has!

Pinhoti Trail
Embark on the longest trail in Alabama. A whopping 337 miles, the Pinhoti Trail winds through the great outdoors of Alabama and Georgia.

DeSoto Caverns
Looking for some family fun? The DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park is the place to be. Just 36 miles southeast of Birmingham, these caverns offer a break from the heat (just 60 degrees!), educational information on the Native Americans — and many others — that lived in the caves, moonshine production history for the adults and much more.

The fun doesn’t stop in the caverns! Outside, there are other attractions, such as a three-quarter-acre maze called the Lost Trail Maze, gift shops, campgrounds, picnic areas, waterfalls, butterfly gardens, gem panning, wacky water golf and even paddle boats.

Mount Cheaha
Looking for a great hike and an even greater view? Mount Cheaha, located in Cleburne County, is the highest natural point in Alabama, standing at 2,497 feet above sea level.

Cahaba River
Calling all water dwellers! Perfect for kayaking and canoeing, the Cahaba River will no doubt lead to an eventful day.

Cahaba Lilies
Along the Tallapoosa River, Hatchet Creek and the Cahaba River lie flowers unique to Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Red Mountain Park
Adorned by Vulcan, this park’s red soil is what makes up Alabama’s largest city.

Rickwood Caverns
Searching for an underground adventure? Take a look at Rickwood Caverns in Blount County, where you’ll explore prehistoric fossils and other fossil fun finds.

Natural Bridge
Ever want to walk on a natural bridge? Visit the “longest natural bridge east of the Rocky Mountains” in the William Bankhead National Forest, located in Winston County.

Dismals Canyon
Based in Franklin County, this gorge is home to some of the most interesting insects around — bioluminescent bugs! Covering the canyon walls, these insects emit glowing blue-green light to attract food and mates. Night tours are offered to get the best look at them.

Along with cool critters, Dismals Canyon is home to two waterfalls, Rainbow and Secret Falls, both perfect for a romantic getaway. The canyon supplies traditional campgrounds, as well as cabins for a more comfortable fit.

For the history buff, this canyon was the final stopping place for Native Americans prior to being marched on the Trail of Tears.

Noccalula Falls
This Gadsden waterfall is rich in Cherokee history. Take a visit to learn of the Cherokee maiden who ended her life to be with the man she loved.

Cathedral Caverns State Park
Want to have fun in the dark? Head on over to Bats Cave at Cathedral Caverns State Park in Marshall County. You’ll be sure to have a spooky evening with some nighttime critters.

Little River Canyon
Have you ever seen a river on the top of a mountain? Little River Canyon in northeastern Alabama has one of the nation’s longest!

Sipsey Wilderness Area
Located in the Bankhead National Forest, Sipsey Wilderness Area is a breathtaking adventure. Known as “The Land of a Thousand Waterfalls,” Sipsey is an area for everyone. It offers hiking, swimming, fishing, boating and horseback riding — just to name a few.

Only founded in 1975, Sipsey is now the biggest and most visited wilderness area in all of Alabama. The most drawing factor? The waterfalls. Because of the build-up of limestone and sandstone in the area, Sipsey Wilderness Area has a plethora of natural waterfalls, each one more beautiful than the previous.

Home to dozens of trails, Sipsey Wilderness Area is a great place to take a break from the busy life of the city and immerse yourself in nature.

Walls of Jericho Trail
If you’re looking for an adventure, this is the trail to take. A 6.6-mile hike near the Alabama-Tennessee border, this trail leads to an unforgettable end.

For the complete article please see

Alabama Tourism Partner Pointer

Be sure your location listings are up to date as of Wednesday, June 10 to be exported from Partners and included in the 2021 Alabama Vacation Guide. Events for 2021 calendar year will need to be added to Partners by July 31.

Update your listings today.

Tourism Tuesdays is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.

For more information contact Dwayne O’Riley at: