Folk lore says that Monte Sano got its name when a white man fell in love with an Indian maiden; her name was Monte. She was commanded to marry an Indian prince by her father. He died of a broken heart while murmuring “Monte, say no to the prince”. True or not, this is definitely a park that you should say YES to. This is almost as beautiful as my beloved Pine Grove Furnace State Park in PA only it is big rig accessible (though a little tight- nothing like Pine Grove would be if I ever got stupid brave enough to attempt). Most of the sites here are water and electric, but there are a smattering of full hookup sites throughout. Site assignment is first come first served so you have to get up earlier in the week if you want to snag a sewer site.
Sites (all hard-packed gravel with timber borders)
The sites are all hard-packed gravel and quite level. We’ve stayed here twice because we have family in Huntsville that we see about every other year. For the most part, we use the camper like a hotel so we haven’t spent a whole lot of time at the campground, but when we’ve been there it h been quiet and peaceful. This time, our low side was our door side (one of my cardinal sins of campground design and maintenance) but it was only a block layer off- so, not bad.
The sites are generally flag pole shaped with the picnic table towards the rear. This limits the amount of camp that is under the awning (in our case, not much). But with the trees, the awning isn’t needed for shade. I would recommend a stand alone EZ-Up or tarp in case of rain.
Big Rig Friendly (Yes)
There is a curve or two at the backs of the loops that you have to watch your camper’s wheels for how they follow the truck, but for the most part the campground is big rig friendly. For check-in, we have to take up more than one space, but it’s never been incredibly busy when we get there. The roads are wide at the sites and parking isn’t awful, but with the sites being perpendicular to the roads and the timber borders – you do have to watch your approach into the sites.
Bathrooms and Showers (Acceptable)
As I recall, I used the bathhouses the first time we camped here. I didn’t have sewer hookups and had only owned the camper for about 2 weeks before that trip. I still don’t have any provisions for offloading gray water except for 5-gallon buckets. The showers didn’t leave me with bad memories and the bathrooms are acceptably clean.
Because it is a state park, the main amenities are playgrounds through the campground. They’re pretty simple, but the kids didn’t complain. Otherwise, there is a small pavilion in the campground – both times we’ve gone, we seem to hit a bluegrass RVers jam festival, so they play music each afternoon. Outside of the campground, but still in the state park are pavilions and bigger/fancier playgrounds.
Cell Phone Service (marginal to OK)
It definitely mattered if I was inside or outside to how much cell service I had. Outside, it was enough to work from using my hotspot. Picnic tables in the forest seem idyllic, but aren’t nearly as comfortable as you’d like to believe. I was able to make and take calls, though I did have to watch how I cradled my phone. Supposedly parts of the park have free wifi- but it didn’t show up on my devices.
Over-the-air TV Service & Cable (OTA was limited and cable wasn’t offered)
We probably could have gotten more channels if we had a TV meter installed or used the TV Towers app or simply randomly tried different directions of our antenna but we didn’t do any of that. Plus with my entire DVD collection accessible at each TV, I have a hard time justifying the effort!
Camp Store (Small but they sell BEER!)
Seeing beer for sale was definitely a first for me. It did settle my question of “is alcohol allowed” question that their rules didn’t. Otherwise, their offerings were pretty sparse.
Overall Rating/Comments (4.5 out of 5)
It’s hard for me to judge this one as I’ve become so accustomed to RVing vs. camping. As an RVer, having more options for full hookups would be nice and it was amusing to hear my daughter as she kept asking if thing after thing were offered (pool, mini golf, etc.) but the camper in me says this is a beautiful park. They has some great tent sites in the rear of the campground that looked pretty glorious. If we had time, I would have loved to explore some if the hiking and biking trails. The noise of bugs and nature at night is downright deafening. My only real beef is the flag pole layout of the sites and being limited by that.
Note for GPS users!!! Look at your route and verify that it takes you up Monte Sano Blvd. The “backside” of the mountain has a couple of bad switchbacks (one qualifies for horrid) and it’s a snug road. My truck’s GPS has jokes and tries to default to the backside of rhe mountain; fortunately doing that once is enough for my lifetime and we checked our route the second time going there.
Monte Sano State Park
5105 Nolen Ave SE
Huntsville, AL 35801
Telephone: (256) 534-3757