Spotlight on Jackson, Marshall, DeKalb & Cherokee: Culture & Recreation

Outdoor attractions, museums and historic places attract visitors to the area

Guntersville Concert Park.


Northeast Alabama is rich with water fun. Try these options: Jackson County Park on the Tennessee River in Scottsboro; Lake Guntersville and Lake Guntersville State Park on the state’s largest lake, created in 1938 by the Tennessee Valley Authority; Weiss Lake, with 447 miles of shoreline.


Paint Rock River offers 58 miles of pristine water in Jackson County for canoeing, kayaking or just looking. Terrapin Creek has 14 miles of floatable water, also good for fishing, canoeing and kayaking. The Alabama Scenic River Trail offers all sorts of paddling and powerboat options. Check out Yellow Creek Falls when exploring near Leesburg or Miller’s Bend Paddle Shack when kayaking on Little River overlooking DeSoto Falls.


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Cherokee Rock Village offers 250 acres of boulders, rising some 200 feet. It is popular for climbers and hikers. Or check Rock Zoo in Fackler, where rocks have been painted like various animals.


Northeast Alabama is cave country. Never-Sink Pit and Stephens Gap Callahan Cave Preserve, both in Jackson County, require vertical caving skills and permits. These are for experienced climbers only. Beginners and seasoned cavers can enjoy John T. Dolberry Tumbling Rock Cave Preserve, including some passages that become sandy crawls. For more casual cavers, try Cathedral Caverns or Russell Cave National Monument.


Pisgah Gorge offers scenic, wildflower-edged trails to three waterfalls. The Walls of Jericho offers a difficult trek, but rewards with magnificent views and rare flora and fauna. Little River Canyon Center National Preserve offers access to a mountaintop river that cascades more than 1,000 feet to Weiss Lake. DeSoto State Park and High Falls Park both feature rushing waterfalls. Bucks Pocket State Park boasts hiking and camping and more on Sand Mountain. Weathington Park in Section offers one of Jackson County’s most popular and scenic overlooks. Graham Farm and Nature Center offers a 491-acre farm within the Paint Rock Valley of Jackson County with hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, farm tours and more. Long-distance hikers enjoy the Pinhoti Trail, which covers 171 miles in Alabama and another 163 in Georgia. And if you prefer to catch the view from your car, try the Appalachian Highlands Byway or the Lookout Mountain Parkway.


Alabama Fan Club/Museum in Fort Payne celebrates the country music group Alabama – from local youths to award-winning artists.


Fort Payne Hosiery Museum traces the industry that once made Fort Payne the sock capital of the world.


Watch the glass artist at work at Orbix Hot Glass or see what luggage gets lost at Unclaimed Baggage.

Indian Mountain ATV Park.


Indian Mountain ATV Park offers ATV and OHV trail riding — plus fishing and hiking and camping — on 4,700 acres in Cherokee County.


Some 250 cars at a time can catch a movie at the 411 Drive In in Centre.


Visit history on a 67-mile Civil War Trail to the region’s battle sites and a Historical Churches Trail, highlighting landmark churches, each at least 75 years old. Or check the Cherokee County Geo-Tour, following your GPS to historic sites, geological wonders and popular recreational areas that start in Centre and lead to popular lakefront sites.


 — and bats and eagles range in Alabama’s northeast. Lake Guntersville State Park offers Eagle Awareness programs on select weekends in January and February, all highlighting majestic birds of prey, with live bird demonstrations, interactive programs and guided field trips. Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge is home to the largest bat emergence east of the Mississippi, with some 250,000 bats emerging every evening from June to August. Tigers for Tomorrow at Untamed Mountain is an exotic animal park and rescue preserve, home to more than 160 animals, including tigers, mountain lions, African lions, bears, wolves and black leopards. Shady Grove Horse Ranch atop Lookout Mountain has miles of riding trails. Jackson County has more than 75,000 acres of public land with whitetail deer, quail, dove, squirrel, rabbit and turkey.


Museums share local history in Guntersville, Scottsboro, Albertville and Collinsville and at the Cherokee Historical Museum in Centre.


Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center is dedicated to events that many consider the first seeds of the civil rights movement in America. Arab Historic Village is a tribute to the pioneer-spirited people who settled and built the area with a schoolhouse, church, homestead and working grist mill. Cornwall Furnace, built in 1862, was the first cold blast furnace in the country to be powered by water.


Antique cars are the start of the Third Saturday Sunset Cruise in Fort Payne.


Towns across the northeast corner of Alabama have preserved railroad depots, often with local history, too. Check out depots in Bridgeport, Stevenson, Scottsboro and Fort Payne.


There’s golf — at Goose Pond, Scottsboro Golf and Country Club, Cherokee County Country Club, DeSoto Country Club and Lil’ Mole Run.


Guntersville’s latest development, City Harbor, offers a mix of event venue, restaurants, lodging, shopping and fun on the waterfront.


Veterans Memorial Park of Jackson County in Scottsboro memorializes the men and women who paid the ultimate price in service to their country and acts as a museum with relics from wars and informational kiosks. Patriotic events are held throughout the year at this site. Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel, atop Lookout Mountain in Mentone, was built by Col. Milford Howard as a memorial to his first wife, Sallie.


The cash-only, modest-dress-requested Mennonite Market in Section offers locally grown produce, canned and baked goods. Boom Town Makers Market, open year-round, offers hand-crafted jewelry, home goods, pottery, furniture and more.

Pirates Bay Water Park.


Sand Mountain Park & Amphitheater features an aquatic center, an outdoor water park, a fitness and tennis center, an RV park, dog parks and event spaces. The amphitheater hosts multiple concerts throughout the year. Its sports park is a popular destination for teams of all kinds, with turf fields and stadium seating. Pirates Bay Water Park, in Leesburg in Cherokee County, offers all kinds of family-friendly attractions, from slides to splash pad to putt-putt to ziplining.


Crow Mountain Orchard, in Fackler in Jackson County, offers apples, peaches, nectarines, pears, berries and cherries.


Jules J. Berta Vineyards in Albertville is the first stop on the Alabama Wine Trail.


Mentone Arts Center serves to preserve Mentone and the greater Lookout Mountain area’s artistic, musical and cultural heritage.

Festivities and Events:

PBR Bull BashJanuary | Rainsville

Skirmish at Fort HarkerApril | Stevenson

Memories of MayberryMay | Valley Head

Freedom FestJune | Rainsville

HydroFestJune | Lake Guntersville

Skyline DayJune | Skyline

Depot DaysJune | Stevenson

Sand Mountain Potato FestivalJuly 4 | Henagar

UFO Day August | Fyffe

World’s Longest Yard SaleAugust | Lookout Mountain Parkway

Labor Day FestivalSeptember | Section

Boom DaysSeptember | Fort Payne

Trail of Tears Motorcycle RideSeptember | Bridgeport

Sugar FestSeptember | Arab

Art SundaySeptember | Scottsboro

Fall FestivalOctober | Mentone

BBQ FestivalOctober | Scottsboro

Harvest FestivalOctober | Boaz

This article appears in the November 2023 issue of Business Alabama.

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