James Hansel recently surprised his wife, Joy, with a glamping trip to Wind Creek State Park on Lake Martin to celebrate the couple’s 47th wedding anniversary.

Joy didn’t know anything about the trip until the night before the couple’s departure from their home in Theodore, just outside Mobile, but her first glamping experience left such a positive impression that she wants to go back again, she said.

“The glamping sites were impeccable,” she said. “It was just a delight, really, to me. It had a lot of amenities that made glamping comfortable. We’d camped out, but this was the first time we’d ever glamped out, and so that was a neat experience for us.”

One of the best amenities, they said, was the ability to rent kayaks for the duration of the trip, which allowed them to explore the beauty of Lake Martin and the state park at their leisure.

“It just had everything we needed,” Joy said. “We enjoyed it. It was beautiful there. We can’t say anything bad about it because it was so great. It was an amazing experience for us.”

Wind Creek, in April, became the first of Alabama’s state parks to offer glamping, a form of camping featuring more luxurious facilities than those associated with traditional camping. Glamping has since been added and is now available at Lake Guntersville State Park, Chewacla State Park in Auburn, Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville and Cheaha State Park.

Alabama State Parks partnered with Timberline Glamping to operate the glamping sites. Timberline co-owner Rebeka Self said the Hansels’ experience at Wind Creek mirrors the feedback the company has received from others.

“It’s just been pretty overwhelming,” she said. “For being a new location, it’s kind of blown all of our expectations away. I think the weekends are booked out well into the fall, and they’re booking a lot of weekdays as well, which is always a good sign. They’ve already had some guests come and stay and then book again for their next trip and want to bring friends.

“That return guest is what we want to see,” Self said. “We want people to come and enjoy it, but we want them to enjoy it so much that they want to plan their next trip and come back to see us again.”

Alabama’s 21 state parks offer a wide variety of overnight accommodations, including resort-style lodging, picturesque cabins and chalets, modern RV hook-ups and primitive camping. The addition of glamping provides another option for guests looking for a combination of rustic and luxury.

“Our goal is to make every guest have a memorable stay at an Alabama State Park and the new glamping sites definitely deliver a memorable  experience,” said Alabama Department Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “We’ve been careful and thoughtful about the best parks to offer glamping, and it’s exciting to see this new amenity expand from one to five parks in such a short time. This has been a fantastic addition to our state parks.”

Glamping — essentially, camping in style — is becoming more widely available in the area. Pictured is one of the glamping site at Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City which is similar to sites at Chewacla State Park and others.

To make reservations for glamping at Alabama State Parks, visit the Timberline Glamping website, Information on glamping at each of the five state parks where it’s available is also available online:

Wind Creek:



Lake Guntersville:


“It was very easy to reserve,” James said. “It was very easy to schedule all the things we needed, like firewood. All that was so easy.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Joy said. “We did hiking. We did the kayaking. We took our bikes with us and went biking. We went swimming. We even played putt-putt there. And there was a lot more to do, so we definitely want to go back.”


Alabama State Parks is a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and maintains 21 State Parks encompassing more than 50,000 acres of land and water in Alabama. The parks range from Gulf Coast beaches to the Appalachian Mountains and provide opportunities and facilities from basic day-use activities to resort convention lodging, restaurants and golfing areas. These parks rely on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations.

Learn more at Partners Pay the Way.