Officials cut ribbon at Oak Mountain State Park Campground after extensive renovation

Published 3:37 pm Monday, May 20, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Under the shade of Oak Mountain State Park’s new campground activity pavilion, a congregation of government officials, civic leaders and state parks personnel convened for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on the morning of Saturday, May 18.

The ribbon cutting sought to officially mark the opening of OMSP’s newly renovated campground facilities and celebrated the completion of a nearly year-long endeavor—with the scheduled reopening of the grounds set for Friday, May 24, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

The campground’s overhaul, which is the first renovation and revamping of the grounds in nearly five decades, approached the renovation on multiple fronts and has resulted in the area now offering enhanced amenities, modernized infrastructure and expanded camping facilities.

OMSP’s campground has long been one of the park’s top attractions, but public response and official comment had long made aware that the area was in need of work. After its planning stages, the renovation project fully began in October 2023, and was completed just days prior to the ribbon cutting event—with the paved roads in the area being among the last completed elements to the facilities.

“We’ve known for a long time that the campground at Oak Mountain State Park needed a major renovation, and it’s rewarding to make that dream become reality,” said Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “From the moment visitors check in at our new camp store, they’ll step into a better campground than we’ve ever had at Oak Mountain.”

The renovations to the Oak Mountain State Park campground largely constitute entirely new constructions, with much of the previous infrastructure in the area having been torn down, replaced and modernized.

In addition to the activity pavilion, a larger camp store is now immediately visible to campers and park visitors as they arrive on the roads that have also been widened and repaved.

The work also includes new restrooms and subterranean work such as the installation of new water and sewer lines to the campground’s new facilities. Upgraded electrical connections, widened camping pads for larger—more modern, recreational vehicles and motor homes, Wi-Fi infrastructure, new park trails and a new expanded playground are other elements of the project that have brought the campground up to modern sensibilities.

The first of its kind in any Alabama state park, the area’s new playground was designed as a National Demonstration Site playground to showcase leadership in best practice design. It features a soft, spongy, poured-in-place rubber floor that park officials say is not only safer for children, but also more durable than traditional surfacing.

“One thing that I am most proud of is that it was done first class,” Blankenship said. “We didn’t cut corners (here) and this is something that is going to be here for generations to come. We made sure that we did it right and we appreciate the work of (the project’s) contractor and the design team who put this together.”

According to park officials, all of the campground’s electrical connections have been upgraded to carry a 50/30 service, a critical element to visitors who travel in modern RVs.

“Today’s RVs are loaded with every modern convenience, including air conditioners and full-size appliances,” Blankenship said. “It’s sometimes hard to get people excited about electrical upgrades at any campground, but people simply won’t stay at a campground without adequate electrical service. We must recognize that 50/30-amp service was once a luxury and is now a necessity.”

Visitors to the new campground will also notice newly constructed and more spacious bathhouses that have replaced their aged predecessors. The new bathhouses are fully accessible and feature separate units with a shower, sink and toilet. Those facilities also include elements that were previously absent from the bathhouses such as laundry machines, heating and air conditioning.

Further additions to the campgrounds include four Americans with Disabilities Act compliant tent sites and eight ADA compliant RV sites. All RV sites have also been fully equipped with a picnic table, grill, lantern hook and fire pit. Primitive camping sites have also been altered to include a tent pad for each site.

While speaking at the event, State Rep. Arnold Mooney declared that it was a blessing to have Oak Mountain State Park and its newly modernized campground in his house district.

“The memories that are made by families here are what is very special,” Mooney said. “It is an amazing park—the lakes are unbelievably beautiful and the opportunities for churches to come and be here as part of events is great. This place (the pavilion) is going to be used constantly.”

The campground’s $13 million renovation was funded by the $85 million bond issue for parks that was approved on the ballot by Alabama voters in 2022, with additional support also provided to the project by the Shelby County Commission.

“It is great to have a facility like this where the people can come out and enjoy the greenspace,” Blankenship said. “Shelby County has been a great partner for us. I think they understand that you can have growth and economic development in your communities while at the same time protecting these properties so that people have the quality of life and can come out and enjoy the beauty that God has so richly blessed us with here in Alabama.”

Campground reservations are open online at through the Plan Your Alabama State Parks Adventure Online portal. Park officials encourage guests to make reservations in advance to secure preferred dates.