Update shared on Oak Mountain State Park, possible 280 parking lot entrance

Published 5:48 pm Thursday, October 5, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – Speaking at The Shelby County Chamber’s annual Tourism and Recreation All-Star Awards inside Columbiana’s Shelby County Arts Council on Thursday, Oct. 5, Deputy Director of Alabama State Parks Matthew Capps shared updates on Oak Mountain State Park, including a new parking lot with entrance access at the U.S. 280 portion of the park.

“We are currently working with Shelby County on trying to build a new parking lot off of 280 to allow guests to get into that area,” Capps said. “Our first phase is going to be for us to build trails and also have natural resources and interpretive programming there. That is coming in the near future.”

While the entire park would see benefits, it gives added exposure to the new Belcher Tract, which recently brought an additional 1,644 more acres to the OMSP.

The new entrance will be a partnership with the county and Alabama State Parks and will feature a parking lot that will allow foot and off-road bike traffic in from the 280 side of the park.

It is one of many projects Capps highlighted during his time talking about Oak Mountain State Park, as the park continues to be one of the best in the state.

OMSP is one of 10 out of 21 total parks that helped bring in 94 percent of guest revenue and attendance.

Now the largest park from an acreage standpoint with 11,920 acres, the park had the second highest attendance out of all 21 state parks this past year, only trailing Gulf State Park, while the $4,567,000 in revenue was the seventh highest.

Another major upgrade coming to the state park includes a complete renovation of the campground that was built in the 1960s and hasn’t been renovated much since.

The upgrades include a new entrance and building for check ins and guest arrivals, the old camper storage now upgraded to a playground, new bathhouses, a dog park, new pavilions and some tiny cabins as well.

“We’re trying to blend and be more diverse in the units we can have here so people can have plenty of different types of camping opportunities,” Capps said.

Capps also thanked Chad Scroggins, county manager for Shelby County, and the commission for their help in all of the projects to continue making Oak Mountain State Park one of the best in the state.

“Shelby County does a tremendous job to help us,” he said. “Literally, I think every maintenance project we do involves them. Without Chad and his team helping us, they’ve been able to help us repave the road, add a new bike lane, add new bathrooms by the beach and then change our aesthetics and traffic flow to manage that better, so we now have a new roundabout.”