Ecotourism is thriving in Mobile
Words by Lucy Graves
America’s Amazon—the largest river delta and wetland in Alabama and one of the biggest river deltas in the US—makes Mobile’s outdoor scene unlike any other. There’s a wide array of outdoor excursions to enjoy in the eco-diverse area, spanning bayous, bays and beaches. Mobile doesn’t just want people to see their scenic outdoor spaces, they want to make sure the spaces are well-preserved too. Conservation efforts in the area are helped through ecotourism—a name for responsible travel in our most treasured natural spaces. Here is our guide to ecotourism in Mobile!
The Audubon Bird Sanctuary
Located on Dauphin Island, The Audubon Bird Sanctuary is one of the top four places in North America for viewing the spring bird migrations. Of the 445 bird species officially documented in Alabama, 95% have been observed on this island, so bring a pair of binoculars! It’s the perfect place for nature lovers—the diverse sanctuary has 137 acres of maritime forests, along with dunes and marshes. The waterways on the island include lakes, swamps, and a beach. There’s no better place to get an up close look at so many different ecosystems.
Boat Tours of the Delta
Airboat Express tours, led by Captains Geoff and Brittany Woodliff, offer educational ecotours, fast ‘fun-run’ rides, sunset tours, and night tours. This is an excursion fun for all ages, where visitors can soar across the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and come face to face with wildlife. Riders may see flowers, birds, a variety of plants, and the kings of the water—alligators. Another option, Wild Native Tours, offers easy-going delta safaris where riders of all ages can learn about the 126 species of fish, 40 species of mammals, and 500 species of plants that call the area home.
Meaher State Park
Boasting a 300-foot-long pier along with a 200 foot “T,” Meaher State Park is an ideal fishing location. The park is fully surrounded by the Mobile Delta, and the pier is complemented by a boat ramp with access to the Blakeley River. There is an additional second boardwalk where you can stroll and see some of Mobile’s finest flora and fauna. The grounds also feature a large campground, making this a must-visit spot for weekend outing for the entire family.
Delta Wildlife Kayaking
The Delta offers an unlimited variety of outdoor activities, but kayaking tops the list for a lot of visitors—and for good reason. There are multiple options for kayaking, depending on your comfort level and experience. Wild Native Tours offer a three-hour excursion led by their trusted captains, or you can bring your own kayak and explore the Delta solo. We recommend a guide if you’re a first-timer—guides will help you learn the ropes and prepare for the unexpected visitors you might encounter.
Glenn Sebastian Nature Trail
Located on the University of South Alabama’s campus, this area is made up of five different trails passing through the Three Mile Creek. The trails all vary in difficulty and length, which means visitors can choose their own adventure! Popular for runners and walkers, the trail is a quieter excursion for those who like to unwind in the great outdoors. Named after park ranger and naturalist Dr. Glenn Sebastian of South Alabama, this trail is a must-visit if you’re looking for a moment of peace.
Hit the ground rolling in Chickasabogue Park, which offers 12 different mountain biking trails. There’s a total of 14 bikeable miles that range from beginner to expert courses—so new cyclists can get a taste of the action, and expert ones can take on a challenge. The park closed in early 2022 for an amenity and infrastructure upgrade. Upon reopening, visitors will get to experience a new playground and splash pad, and new restrooms, alongside improved trails.
5 Rivers – Alabama Delta Resource Center
Located where the Mobile, Spanish, Tensaw, Apalachee, and Blakeley rivers flow together into the Mobile Bay, 5 Rivers holds the keys to the history of Mobile’s wildlife. The center asks guests to pause and look around their environment—educating and making visitors more aware of the local natural resources and how to conserve them. The many exhibits include taxidermy, live animals, and local artwork, but it’s always worth a visit because they are ever-changing. Smaller explorers will fall in love with the “Little Bateau Learning Center,” which uses hands-on activities and exhibits to help little ones connect with nature.
Mobile invites visitors to rediscover nature—from relaxing boat tours to adventurous kayak tours, and educational museums to up close exploration, the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors are endless. The adventure begins at mobile.org.