Joe Wheeler State Park
Joe Wheeler Resort Lodge from the water
Joe Wheeler State Park is a 2,550-acre property on Wheeler Lake, a creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Wheeler Dam. The state park includes a resort lodge, campground, restaurant, full service convention center, a looped 2.5-mile hiking/biking trail, an 18-hole championship golf course and a marina on the lake with 140 boat slips.
Wheeler Lake is one of the more prominent stops along the Alabama Bass Trail, offering some of the finest bass fishing in America. The deep waters near the dam are inhabited by smallmouth bass while the shallower waters of First and Second Creeks offer excellent fishing for largemouth bass, stripe (striped bass, hybrid striped bass and saltwater stripe), bream, crappie and catfish.
The picnic facilities include several pavilions, tennis courts, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, a sandy beach swimming area, a large open playing field and lots of shoreline for bank fishermen. The picnic area also features several trailheads of trails that wind along the shoreline and through the park. The picnic area is within walking distance of the campground.
The most popular hiking trails are part of a 2.5-mile network between the day use area and the Resort Lodge. The cabin area on the south side of Wheeler Dam also offers a 2.5-mile looped network of trails used for hiking and mountain biking.
The 18-hole championship golf course at Joe Wheeler was designed by Earl Stone on a setting of rolling hills along the Tennessee River. The golf course is located inside the boundaries of a wild game sanctuary, so as you play you might have to put up with deer, birds and other wildlife playing on the fairways and greens.
The marina: located just upstream of Wheeler Dam within the confines of First Creek. 26 70-foot covered slips, 26 50-foot covered slips, 44 24-foot covered slips and 88 uncovered sailboat slips. Best way to find out availability and rates is call the marina: 256-247-6971.
Joe Wheeler Lodge is lakeside, just off the mainstem of the Tennessee River on First Creek. This is an exquisitely beautiful location and all 75 rooms have balconies overlooking the lake. Most rooms offer two queen-size beds but some of the suites also offer king-size. All rooms are non-smoking and not pet friendly. Free wifi is available in the lodge lobby, the restaurant and the convention center.
Joe Wheeler State Park also offers 10 newly built lakeside cottages at the mouth of First Creek. Each has the usual appliances and comes with linens, cookware and tableware, plus satellite TV with DVD players. All cottages are non-smoking and none are pet friendly. The park also offers a "Fisherman's Cabin" close to the boat launch on First Creek. 2-bed/1 bath with the usual housekeeping supplies plus outside hookups for charging boat batteries.
The cabins at Joe Wheeler are on the south side of Wheeler Dam, about 14 miles drive from the lodge, marina, campground and golf course. But they come in brick or wood and sleep 4 to 15, depending on the cabin. Cabins come with full linens, cookware and tableware with Dish Network on the TV's. The brick cabins are on a bluff overlooking the lake, the wood cabins are nearby in the woods. Three of the cabins are dog friendly (for an extra charge per dog per night for a maximum of two dogs).
The campground features 116 campsites, 110 of which offer full water, electric and sewer hookups. Each campground loop has its own modern bathhouse with hot showers. Nearby is the primitive campground, close enough the folks can easily access the bathhouse located in the C loop area of the improved campground.
Reservations require a minimum 72-hours notice or deposits will be forfeit. Reservations also require a one-night deposit to hold the reservation. 2-night minimums apply April 1 through October 31 and on weekends the rest of the year. 3-night minimums apply for Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends.
Other photos courtesy of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources