Camping at Monte Sano
When we started tent camping a few years ago, we took our first ever trip at Monte Sano State Park. Why? It’s close to home and close to civilization (as in Star Market is just down the mountain). This was good just in case we forgot anything. As newbies, we knew nothing of a tent camping checklist. We were pretty inexperienced when it came to setting up and tearing down a campsite, too, so Monte Sano seemed like a great place to do a trial run.
Several years have passed, we’ve traded our tent for a pop-up camper, and we’ve figured out the things we need for a fun and comfortable camping trip; however, we still visit Monte Sano. It’s our go-to park when want a camping experience without a ton of planning and preparation. It’s a great place to get started camping… It’s the State Park in your backyard!
Monte Sano Camping Basics
Nice, clean bath houses? Check! A safe place for a campfire (s’mores!)? Check! Playground and trails? Check, check!
Campsites at Monte Sano come in several flavors:
- Primitive sites (furthest away from the bathhouses) are heavily wooded, and at the back of the campground area. This area is frequented by Scouts, so you might want to check with the Camp Store prior to your trip.
- Improved sites with water and electrical (second furthest distance from the bathhouses) and some with added sewage hookups (closest to the bathhouses) have a fine gravel base and are wooded and fairly private.
- Each campsite has a fire ring with a grate for cooking. Don’t forget s’mores!
- No camper or tent? No problem – try a cabin on the campgrounds!
- There’s a big playground and disc golf course inside the park for family fun.
The two bathhouses are clean and well-maintained, each with a washer and dryer (bring quarters!) and a small playground. There’s also a Camp Store open 8 am – 5 pm (this is where you pay for your campsite), and a camp host (inside the gate to the left when you first enter the camping area) where you can check in after hours and also where you can buy firewood.
- The campground is within walking distance of the Von Braun Astronomical Society Planetarium. Shows are most Saturdays. Read our review.
- You can also walk a little further to the overlook to star gaze. There’s a small CCC museum by the overlook you should check out during the day.
- Unlike some campgrounds, Monte Sano is pretty dark, so you’ll need lanterns or flashlights walking to and from the bath house or to the Planetarium.
- Wildlife makes it’s way into the campground, so be on the lookout for deer. The camp host puts out food, so you might see some there. We’ve also seem armadillos trekking down the road. Don’t be alarmed if you hear them scrabbling about your site. And, if you’re lucky, you may wake up to a barred owl’s call: “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?”
- If you visit during spring, you can see bluebells at The Sinks. It’s a moderate hike (probably not suitable for children under 7 due to distance and the return hike uphill) but well worth it. If you can’t do that, just walk over to the hiker’s parking lot for several hiking options. You can get a trail map from the Camp Store.
- Theres no WI-Fi but there’s spotty cell phone coverage in the camp area. But you don’t need that anyway, right?
Monte Sano State Park Details
Address: 5105 Nolen Ave., 35801 Huntsville, AL (map)
Phone numbers: (256) 534-3757, (256) 534-6589
Office Hours: 7 days a week 8am-4pm
Park Hours: 8am-sunset trails close 30 minutes before sunset
Rates: Visit the camping rates page for the most updated prices starting at $16-$26
View Website | Monte Sano State Park Facebook Page
Karen Gann had a marketing communications career in high tech before taking a sharp turn into stay-at-home-momdom and homeschooling. She grew up in the Tennesse Valley, lives in Huntsville, and is wife to the wittiest man alive, mother to two head-strong and independent girls (they're adorable, really), and human caregiver to Gomez the dog. Addictions include Facebook, Pinterest, NYC's Radio Lab, coffee, and politics (not necessarily in that order but sometimes all at the same time). She's a foodie, too.