One of a Kind Experiences Designed for Your Group

The Learning Campus at Gulf State Park offers immersive and hands-on programming designed to provide visitors with a unique opportunity to connect with the natural and cultural heritage of the park. This programming includes local activities and classes that can be customized to fit any age level or educational interest. The sample itineraries below reflect a small sampling of the curriculum that is offered. For more information, please contact the Learning Campus at 251-923-3101 or info@learningcampusgsp.com.

collage of Learning Campus images
collage of Learning Campus images
One of a Kind Experiences Designed for Your Group

The Lodge at Gulf State Park offers immersive and hands-on programming designed to provide visitors with a unique opportunity to connect with the natural and cultural heritage of the park. This programming includes local activities and classes that can be customized to fit any age level or educational interest. The sample itineraries below reflect a small sampling of the curriculum that is offered. For more information, please contact the Learning Campus at 251-923-3101 or info@learningcampusgsp.com.

One of a Kind Experiences Designed for Your Group

The Lodge at Gulf State Park offers immersive and hands-on programming designed to provide visitors with a unique opportunity to connect with the natural and cultural heritage of the park. This programming includes local activities and classes that can be customized to fit any age level or educational interest. The sample itineraries below reflect a small sampling of the curriculum that is offered. For more information, please contact the Learning Campus at 251-923-3101 or info@learningcampusgsp.com.

collage of Learning Campus images
Sample Itinerary
3-Day/2-Night

Day 1

Afternoon Arrival
Bunkhouse Check-In & Orientation

Activity
Guided Tour of Gulf State Park, Interpretive Center & Sustainability Talk
DINNER
Hosted at Woodside with Lawn Games & Table Tennis
Activity
Film in Conservation Hall

Day 2

BREAKFAST
Hosted at Woodside
Activity
Dune Restoration Lesson
Sea Oat Planting

Activity
Guided Pier Walk

Activity
Swimming
LUNCH
To-go Boxes for Adventure
Activity
Guided Hike with Naturalist

Activity
Orienteering Cass and Hands-on Program
DINNER
Hosted at Woodside Followed by Fire Pit S’mores
Activity
Stargazing on the Pier

Day 3

BREAKFAST
Hosted at Woodside
Check-out of Bunkhouse

Activity
Guided Nature Center
Tour with Radical Raptors Encounter

Group Departure
Sample Itinerary
5-Day/4-Night

Day 1

Check-In & Orientation
History & Sustainability of
Gulf State Park

Activity
LC Scavenger Hunt
LUNCH
Activity
Guided Tour of Gulf State Park & Interpretive Center

Activity
Beach Exploring & Swimming
DINNER
Activity
Stargazing on the Pier

Day 2

BREAKFAST
Activity
Become a Citizen Scientist

Activity
Dune Restoration Lesson Sea Oat Planting
LUNCH
Activity
Exploring Coastal Creatures & Guided Pier Walk

Activity
Beach Sandcastles &
Swimming
DINNER
Activity
Coastal Ecology Film

Day 3

BREAKFAST
Activity
Orienteering Lesson & Activity

Activity
Medicinal & Edible Plants
LUNCH
Activity
Worm Composting & Organic Gardening

Activity
Eco Art Class
DINNER
Activity
Guided Night Hike

Day 4

BREAKFAST
Activity
Radical Raptors

Activity
Guided Nature Walk on Eagle Loop Trail
BOX LUNCH
Activity
Guided Kayaks on Lake Shelby

Activity
Water Quality Research in Lab
DINNER
Activity
S’mores and Stories

Day 5

BREAKFAST
Check-out of Bunkhouse

Activity
Geocache 101 Lesson

Activity
GeocacheActivity / Hike & Bike Adventure
LUNCH
Activity
Alligator Adventures at Nature Center

Activity
Swim at GSP Swimming Pool

Return to Basecamp for Departures
Sample Itinerary
3-Day/2-Night

Day 1







Afternoon Arrival
Bunkhouse Check-In & Orientation

Tour
Guided Tour of Gulf State Park, Interpretive Center & Sustainability Talk
DINNER
Hosted at Woodside with Lawn Games & Table Tennis
Activity
Film in Conservation Hall

Day 2

BREAKFAST
Hosted at Woodside
Activity
Dune Restoration Lesson

Activity
Sea Oat Planting

Activity
Guided Pier Walk

Activity
Swimming
LUNCH
To-go Boxes for Adventure
Activity
Guided Hike with Naturalist

Activity
Orienteering Class and Hands-on Program
DINNER
Hosted at Woodside Followed by Fire Pit S’mores
Activity
Stargazing on the Pier

Day 3

BREAKFAST
Hosted at Woodside
Check-out of Bunkhouse

Activity
Guided Nature Center
Tour with Radical Raptors Encounter

Group Departure






Nature's Calendar

With nine different ecosystems spread across 6,150 acres, the natural life within The Lodge at Gulf State Park evolves with the changing seasons. To highlight these progressions, the calendar below outlines monthly activities hosted by the Nature Center at Gulf State Park, so visitors can enjoy the best Mother Nature has to offer any time of year.

Winter
Winter
December
  • With the position of the sun located over the Gulf, we have our best sunrises and sunsets of the year (though we can’t complain about their beauty the rest of the year)!
January
  • Bald eagles and osprey are common; look for the adult Bald Eagle pairs on their nests, incubating their eggs; when the chicks hatch, you'll see evidence of the parents feeding them and soon you may see heads appear above the nest.
  • Juvenile pelicans will begin feeding on their own.
  • Look for columned stinkhorn (fungus) in the park; you are likely to smell it before you see it!
  • Yellow-rumped warblers are common; listen for their chirping among the wax myrtles.
  • Look for cedar waxwings showing up in large numbers, feeding on holly berries.
  • Stargazers will see Orion shining bright in the sky.
February
  • Purple martin houses are put up the first week of February in anticipation of their arrival.
  • Great horned owl chicks are seen in the nest.
  • Spring peepers and cricket frogs begin calling.
  • Wildflowers, including Carolina jessamine, begin blooming.
  • Bald eagle chicks become more active and you will see them moving around the nest.
  • Volunteers will place recycled Christmas trees in the sand dunes to act as sand fencing which allows the dunes to continue to grow.
  • Ospreys begin nesting.
  • Wax myrtles have lots of berries for overwintering and migrating birds.
  • Red sorrel and toadflax begin to show signs of spring.
Spring
Spring
March
  • Alligators can be seen sunning as the days begin to warm up.
  • Bald eagle chicks are getting bigger and can be seen stretching and flapping their wings.
  • Green tree frogs and leopard frogs can be heard calling.
  • Dune restoration continues this month with volunteer opportunities to plant sea oats.
  • Conradina (false rosemary), swamp titi, and quaking grass are all abloom.
  • Starling and redwing blackbird murmurations can be seen in late winter and early spring.
April
  • April is the big spring bird migration period. A variety of songbirds can be heard as they return from their winter grounds. Watch for fallout—birds that are so tired after their long flight over the Gulf of Mexico will quite literally fallout from exhaustion; they will rest, feed and rebuild their strength to continue their northern journey.
  • Be watchful of our nesting shorebirds—least terns, snowy plovers, and black skimmers; they nest on top of the sand and are well camouflaged, so they can be easily disturbed or stepped on.
  • Fowler and narrow-mouth toads, gray tree frogs, squirrel tree frogs, green tree frogs, southern leopard toads and southern toads (among others) are all heard calling mates. How many can you identify just by listening to their calls?
  • Alligators are more active and mating season begins; listen for the males bellowing.
  • Sparkleberry and serviceberry are producing fruit.
  • Prickly pear cactus is blooming.
  • Cinnamon ferns begin unrolling their fronds.
  • Baby animals are abundant in the park—look for baby raccoons, squirrels, marsh rabbits and others.
  • Pitcher plants will begin blooming in early spring.
May
  • Sea turtle nesting season begins; mostly loggerhead nests, but occasional Kemp's Ridley or green sea turtle nests are possible; if you spot sea turtle tracks or a nesting or hatchling sea turtle, call 1-866-SEA-TURTLE to report.  Be sure to turn off all lights and refrain from taking pictures.
  • Osprey chicks are in the nest while the juvenile bald eagles are finally beginning to fledge.
  • Coral bean, blue curl flower, and tickseed are in bloom.
  • Willet and other shorebirds are commonly seen foraging along the beach.
  • Yellow flies are biting! To deter them, wear light-colored clothing and look for insect repellants with citrus oils like orange or lemon.
Summer
Summer
June
  • Sea turtle nesting season picks up; volunteers continue patrolling at sunrise looking for tracks from the previous night; nests are marked and monitored.  If you spot sea turtle tracks or a nesting or hatchling sea turtle, call 1-866-SEA-TURTLE to report.  Be sure to turn off all lights and refrain from taking pictures.
  • Baby raccoons, armadillos and marsh rabbits abound.
  • Alligators are claiming their territories; be on the lookout along the waterways in the park.
  • Looking for ghost crabs on the beach at night is a favorite family activity—just be sure to use a red filter or flashlight so that you don't disturb nesting sea turtles.
  • Scarlet hibiscus, previously thought extinct in Alabama, is blooming.
  • Be mindful of the cicada wasps—while they may look intimidating, only the females have stinging capabilities but they are not aggressive and rarely sting unless they are handled roughly, get stepped upon with bare feet, or they get caught in clothing.
July
  • Sea turtle nesting continues while hatching begins; if you are lucky enough to witness a nesting sea turtle or a hatching taking place, be sure to turn off all lights and refrain from taking pictures so that the baby turtles can get safely to the Gulf; if there are no volunteers around, please call 1-866-SEA-TURTLE to report turtles.
  • Marsh hibiscus and pickerelweed are in bloom along the freshwater lakes and wetlands. Also look for cattails and swamp hibiscus.
  • Look for the purple berries of the beautyberry.
August
  • Dragonflies, damselflies, tadpoles and frogs are abundant.
  • Juvenile osprey are learning to fish.
  • Sea turtle nesting season winds down but hatchings will continue until the last nest is finished (usually in October); be on the lookout for Share the Beach volunteers monitoring nests in the evenings for hatchings.  If you spot sea turtle tracks or a nesting or hatchling sea turtle, call 1-866-SEA-TURTLE to report.  Be sure to turn off all lights and refrain from taking pictures.
  • Liatris is blooming and prickly pear fruit is ripening.
Fall
Fall
September
  • Gulf fritillary butterflies are common.
  • Sea turtle hatching season is winding down; Share the Beach volunteers will be monitoring the last nests so watch for nest excavations.  If you spot sea turtle tracks or a nesting or hatchling sea turtle, call 1-866-SEA-TURTLE to report.  Be sure to turn off all lights and refrain from taking pictures.
  • Baby alligators are hatching; look for them near their mamas (sometimes you will see them riding on top).
  • Wild persimmons can be found.
  • Look for jelly made from beautyberries.
October
  • Tree swallows will be abundant.
  • Goldenrod is in full bloom.
  • Several butterflies can be spotted as they are migrating through—Gulf fritillary, monarch, eastern black swallowtail, common buckeye, cloudless sulphurs, and long-tailed skippers; check the milkweed varieties for butterflies.
  • In addition to butterflies, the fall bird migration is in full swing.
  • Any last sea turtle nests will be hatching and final nest excavations being performed by Share the Beach volunteers. If you spot sea turtle tracks or a nesting or hatchling sea turtle, call 1-866-SEA-TURTLE to report. Be sure to turn off all lights and refrain from taking pictures.
  • Common loons begin arriving; they will spend the winter with us (until about March); we will also begin seeing red-breasted mergansers and cormorants.
  • When conditions allow during the fall and winter months (October through February), park staff will be performing prescribed burning operations in the park.
  • Groundsel and showy jointweed can be found in the park.
November
  • Adult bald eagles return and may be seen rebuilding their nests getting ready for the breeding season.
Year-round
Year-round
  • Join our naturalists for guided tours of the beach, pier or trails and other educational programs and activities (check the weekly Nature Center calendar for specific programs)
  • Dolphins can frequently be spotted in the Gulf and back bay waterways.
  • Beachcombing is wonderful after a storm; check the beach to see what treasures the waves have left behind.

Remember, while you’re enjoying our beautiful natural resources, to

  • respect all of our wildlife by observing them from a distance without following or approaching; never feed them; and do not disturb them while they are mating, nesting, or raising young;
  • pack up and take all trash with you and dispose of it properly;
  • take only pictures, leave only footprints.
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