The ancient freshwater Lake Jackson is a wonderful place for water sports and fishing. When the weather's been dry for a long period of time, Lake Jackson's water becomes very clear. Many years ago there were alligators in Lake Jackson, but they were eventually exterminated (sorry, that's how they used to do it). I was told that an occasional gator might wander over the road from neighboring swampland (way across the lake from the beach), but swimming and skiing in Lake Jackson is safe.
Lake Jackson's shoreline features beautiful Spanish moss-draped hardwoods, pines, and cypress trees. A very nice partly paved, partly elevated wooden boardwalk winds through the park from the campground on the Eastern side of the lake to the natural wetland area on the Western side of the lake. Two sandy beaches are available for play. The smaller of the two beaches is closer to the campground, but the larger hosts a pier, swimming, and a playground. There are grills and picnic tables placed throughout the park. It's very popular with the locals.
The campground has just 28 sites, but most are directly on the water facing West which makes for some phenomenal sunsets over the water. Boats and personal watercraft can be anchored just a few just feet from your camper, or you can use the dock located in the primitive section of the campground. The shoreline in the campground is beautiful. While we were there, several ducks, some geese, and about a dozen goslings were wandering from site to site looking for handouts. The kids loved it (but watch your step, and don't turn your back on a wild goose). The level camping Sites feature full hookups including 50 amp service and sewer.
The city of Florala is a small quaint town with beautiful architecture and a rich history. 5th Avenue runs through downtown and offers a chance to time travel into the past when this was a bustling timber town complete with an opera house (which burned around the beginning of the 19th century). Located just an hour North of Fort Walton Beach, Florida (and very near Destin and Panama City), Florala offers more than just a peaceful and pristine destination, it's a gateway to the beautiful beaches of the Florida Panhandle (and the shops, water parks, go carts, miniature golf, seafood, deep sea fishing, etc.).
summary, we really like the park. I have to admit I may be a
little biased. My mother is from Florala, and I spent time here
every Summer from the early 60's through the 70's, long before
it was a state park. Not much has changed in Florala over the
last 50 years, but the lake is much cleaner, and the shoreline
is much more inviting now. I'm glad I could share it with my
kids all these years later.
One feature that sets Florala apart from many similar towns is Lake Jackson, the largest natural lake in the state (500 acres). I'm not sure about that claim, seeing as how half the lake is in Florida, but I'm not one to argue. When I was young, there was a municipal park here. A beach and an old pier with a diving board. There were rumors of alligators, but I never saw one.
Since those days, Alabama has made a state park of the property. We love state parks, and we were passing through anyway, so we made it a layover on our Florida Panhandle adventure.
When we arrived at the park, the public areas looked great. As we approached the campground, we were a little worried about the entrance and the appearance around the office and RV storage area. Those worries were quickly tossed aside as we passed the entrance and into the campground. It's small, but very nice. I would have normally selected a lakeside site (which was available), but the Jeep trailer made a pull through more desirable.
After setting up, I took the bikes off the racks so we could explore a little. We discovered a boardwalk that wound through the trees and wetland for a while before becoming a paved path. It was an easy and enjoyable ride. The kids were anxious to reach the playground on the beach, so we went straight there. They played for a while until we started seeing lightening in the far distance. We sprinted back to the campground.
While we were there, we rode bikes
several times, fished a little, and watched the exotic ducks,
geese, and all their babies wander around the campground looking
for food. I also have to mention the sunsets. Anyone that knows
the Richardson Tribe knows we love sunsets. The combination of
peace and quiet, water, sun, and cypress trees with Spanish moss
is very relaxing. We will return.