Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument highlights the police aggression that took place in 1963 on the streets of Birmingham against nonviolent protesters. The scenes of police dogs being let loose on black citizens and crowds being sprayed with high powered water hoses were seen all over the world and brought attention to the social injustice in America at the time. As public outrage grew, it prompted Congress to act to pass the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Sites at the National Monument include the 16th Street Baptist Church that was bombed in a terrorist attack and the new Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The park was established in 2017 by President Barack Obama and is still being developed to include more sites in and around the Birmingham Civil Rights District.

Freedom Riders National Monument

Prior to 1961, interstate travel was segregated, and the Freedom Riders sought to end this practice by protesting the practice and bringing attention to segregation at bus terminals and bus facilities, just as they had done at lunch counters and bathrooms. White segregationists frequently attacked them, but it wasn't until photos of a firebombed bus made headlines that people started paying attention. In May of 1961, Attorney General Robert Kennedy petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to ban segregation on interstate travel. By November of that year, it was law that bus terminals and facilities had to be racially integrated.

Freedom Riders National Monument was established by President Barack Obama in 2017 on the same day as the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and preserves the memory of the Freedom Riders and their fight for equal rights and desegregation of interstate bus travel. While the park is being developed there are currently no visitor services, but you can visit the Greyhound Bus Station, the Bus Burning Site, the Anniston Memorial Hospital, and the old Trailways Station. Many of these sites are also part of the United States Civil Rights Trail.

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park marks the final battle of the Creek War in which Major General Andrew Jackson's army defeated the Red Stick Creek Warriors. The battle took place on March 14, 1814, and made Andrew Jackson a national hero.

Visitors to the park can drive the 3-mile Tour Road which passes the battlefield, as well as hike, fish, picnic, canoe, and go horseback riding. The Visitor Center is open every day from 9:00 - 4:30. It includes exhibits and a 22-minute film on the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Little River Canyon National Preserve

Little River Canyon National Preserve occupies over 15,000 acres in Northwest Alabama and is part of the Southern Appalachian range. The preserve is known for its forests, waterfalls, scenic views, and recreational activities. Due to its confluence of the Cumberland Plateau and the Gulf Coastal Plain, Little River Canyon is also home to highly diverse ecosystems of plants and animals.

Little River Falls is the Park's most prominent feature and a popular place to visit - especially in summer when you can wade into the falls and the swimming hole underneath. Other popular activities in the Park include kayaking, rock climbing, fishing, hiking, and many others. Camping isn't permitted in the park at this time however. Stop in at the Little River Canyon Center for information before you head out on the trail. The scenic drive along the Canyon Rim Parkway is also a very popular way to see the Park. Little River Canyon National Preserve was established in 1992.

Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area

Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area was established in 2002 to protect the history and to promote the preservation and conservation of areas in Northern Alabama along the Tennessee River. The Heritage Area protects land in six Alabama counties and is headquartered at the University of North Alabama in Florence, AL.

Cultural aspects to explore here are the rich music history, Native American culture, and the industry and culture around the Tennessee River itself. There is a wide variety of things for visitors to explore like museums, historic trails, recreation, National Forests, and historic sites.

Natchez Trace Parkway (AL, MS, TN)

The "Old Natchez Trace" is a historic corridor once used by the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians for traveling around the region. Later, it was used by many different groups to navigate the difficult terrain. Today, the Natchez Trace Parkways is a 440-mile stretch of scenic drive that runs through Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee that marks the history of the region.

Other leisure activities along the parkway include camping, fishing, hiking, and enjoying nature. Popular stretches of the Parkway include Natchez to Jackson, Jackson to Tupelo, and Tupelo to Tennessee and beyond. The main Parkway Visitor Center can be found at milepost 266, while other centers are scattered along the Parkway. Check here for a complete list.

Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail (AL, MS, TN)

Five distinct trails make up the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail and are administered by the Natchez Trace Parkway. These sixty miles of trail help visitors relive what it was like to travel the trail by foot and to promote the beauty of the region. The trails are the Potkopinu, Rocky Springs, Yockanookany, Blackland Prairie, and the Highland Rim. The Parkway and trails are free to visit. For trail maps and more information, click here.

Russell Cave National Monument

Russell Cave National Monument is located in Bridgeport, AL and is a unique archaeological site boasting one of the most complete prehistoric cultural records in the Southeast United States. This site was home to ancient inhabitants from as far back as 10,000 B.C.

While visitors cannot explore inside the cave, guided tours are available that take you to the front of the cave and the cave shelter. Other popular activities include picnicking and nature-watching. Russell Cave is the 3rd-longest cave in Alabama and one of more than 1500 caves in the area. No other place in America has more caves per square mile than right here in Alabama.

Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail

The Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail marks the event when 600 non-violent protesters walked from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 in solidarity for Jimmy Lee Jackson and to petition for their right to vote. The protesters were met at the Edmund Pettus Bridge by Alabama Highway Patrol and were not allowed to cross. Instead, violence broke out and many protesters were hospitalized.

The incident caused outrage across the country. Later that same year, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voter Rights Act into law, preventing discrimination in voting practices or procedures because of race and color. Several Interpretive Centers and historic landmarks can be found along the route.

Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail

The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates the forceful removal of the Cherokees from their homes in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. States participating the the Trail are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. More than 16,000 Cherokee were relocated between 1838 and 1839, and the trail documents their stories of suffering, illness, and death, but also preserves their routes and important sites along the Trail.

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen before their nickname of 'Red Tails' became popular. Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama is where African-American pilots began their flight training, and the site tells of the rigors of training involved for African-American pilots and their contribution to the war. Two hangars at the site contain aircraft, exhibits, and a movie about the Airmen. A scenic overlook and an outdoor walk with more historical exhibits are also offered at the site.

Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site

With a desire to build a university for African-Americans, Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Institute in 1881 and quite literally helped build it brick by brick with his own hands. Its most popular professor, George Washington Carver, specialized in agriculture and is responsible for tapping into the potential of the peanut, sweet potato, and soy beans. Other achievements to come out of Tuskegee are the United Negro College Fund and many other advancements in education for African-Americans. In 1901, Booker T. Washington became the first African American to be invited to the White House for dinner.

Places to visit at the site include The Oaks (Washington's Home), the grave of Booker T. Washington, the grave of George Washington Carver, and the George Washington Carver Museum. A limited number of ranger-guided tours of The Oaks are available each day.