When you visit Gulf Shores, AL, you'll undoubtedly want to spend a majority of your time relaxing on the beautiful beaches. However, we recommend taking at least one day to explore some of the incredible parks in the area. One is Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park. It offers a glimpse into the bayou habitat that is home to a number of rare plants and animals. One of the many highlights: a carnivorous and endangered pitcher plant!
Alabama's Gulf Coast will quickly become your family's favorite vacation spot. Between the family-friendly atmosphere and the almost limitless list of things to do and see, you'll find there is something for everyone. Download a copy of our free Vacation Guide to help you plan your visit. It includes our selections for everything from the best dining to outdoor recreation and everything in between. Put a visit to Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park at the top of your list and use our Guide to fill in the rest!
Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park
There are quite literally about 100 reasons why Tarkiln Bayou Preserve is an interesting place for you and your family to spend a day. The park's wet prairie habitat is the perfect environment for nearly 100 rare plants and animals to thrive. During a stroll on the boardwalk, you might catch a glimpse of the alligator snapping turtle, Chapman's butterwort, or four endangered species of pitcher plants.
The White Top Pitcher Plant: It's Rare and Carnivorous!
The most notable of the pitcher plants you can locate at the park is the white top pitcher plant. It stands about 2 feet tall on a mostly green stalk. The top features a white leaf with red veins that is shaped similar to a thin pitcher with its lid slightly lifted as if it's ready to pour water into a glass.
You'll be interested to know that this plant is unique to the Gulf Coast. In fact, you can only find it growing between the Apalachicola and Mississippi rivers. But your children will love learning how a pitcher plant catches and eats its prey! They lure insects into the pitcher itself with a combination of bright colors and fragrant nectar. The surface of the plant's rim is very slippery, especially on wet days. If an insect happens to venture onto the rim, it's likely to slip and fall into the plant where it will get stuck. You may be lucky enough to see this occur during your visit!
Other Recreation You Can Enjoy at the Park
Tarkiln Bayou fishing, birding, and geocaching are among the activities at state park. However, you'll have a great time just walking the trails looking at the plants and wildlife. For the best experience, we recommend bringing a pair of binoculars and your camera. And no matter which trail you choose, be sure to bring plenty of water and a picnic to enjoy at the pavilion after your hike.
Choose from two hiking trails:
Tarkiln Bayou Trail
This pathway is ADA accessible. It's paved and includes an elevated boardwalk that takes you through the prairie, cypress and titi forests. Have a seat on one of the benches positioned along the trail so you can take in the landscape. The trail ends with a scenic view of the bayou.
Perdido Bay Trail
This trail is much longer and a bit more rugged. It crosses streams and muddy areas and takes you through an oak and pine forest before ending at the bayshore beaches.
The Best Lodging Near the Park
Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park is just a 30- to 40-minute drive from your Gulf Shores Vacation Rental, making it a wonderful excursion for your family during your stay. We recommend heading out early in the day to explore the park and then returning with plenty of time to enjoy a little time on the beach before dinner. Your Gulf Shores Vacation Rental comes with everything your group will need from well-equipped kitchens to comfortable beds and a convenient location to all of the best activities. Browse all of our vacation rentals to find and book your favorite today.