Filed under: Family Weekend Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, Nature & Wildlife, RV Home School, State & National Parks
Moundville Archaeological Park, near Tuscaloosa, AL…
We recently spent 2 weeks near Tuscaloosa, AL, volunteering with a Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief build. While we were there, we stayed at the Moundville Archaeological Park, in Moundville, AR; about 20 minutes south of Tuscaloosa.
The MAP is a small park, about 26 acres, that consists of a museum, ancient Indian mounds, replica Indian huts, beautiful walking paths, and a small campground. At the entrance to the park is a Orientation building, where you can speak with a park ranger, find park information, and watch a well-done, informative film on the park and surrounding area’s history. We really appreciated the film as we knew nothing about the area before we watched it. We found the staff here to be very informative and education oriented - when they found out that we homeschool, they gave us some information on the park, including some activity sheets for the kids, that made our stay much more interesting!
The grounds contain over a dozen Indian mounds, built around 800 years ago. While you cannot climb most of the mounds, the largest one has about 82 steps leading to the top, where there is a replica hut, depicting what the chieftain’s home would have looked like. The large mound gives a lovely view of the park, and is a great place for taking pictures. There is a long, paved, one-way loop through the park that makes a popular walking path, and is stroller and wheelchair friendly. The park has various walking paths, and an area that has 4 replica huts to explore, along with a great picnic area. The park has 4 ponds, 3 of which were the result of dirt being dug out to build the mounds – by hand, one basket full at a time. The other pond, right behind the museum, was built at a much later date, but the park itself. The park does not have a ton of parking, but there are various places throughout the park to stop; it really is a lovely park to explore on foot!
Halfway through the park is the museum. The museum has been recently renovated, and has many park-originated items on loan from the Smithsonian. The Duck Bowl is an incredible piece of art from the Moundville Indian Era, and there are other pieces that I found so incredible considering the tools that the Indians would have had at that time. The museum has life-size figures depicting parts of Moundville life, lots of authentic and replica artifacts, and an area where a ‘ghost’ spirit (Indian, not scary) tells a little story about his life. The museum houses the original Rattlesnake Disc, which is an Indian artifact that was dug up by a local farmer and is now the Alabama State Artifact. The museum also has a cute little coffee shop that supposedly sells the most fantastic coffee (not a coffee drinker myself, so can’t verify), and there is a very nice gift shop with everything from replica pottery to 3-foot-long gummy snakes (you know you want one!). We picked up a bumper sticker.
We stayed at the park for the 2 week limit, and had an nice full hookup site. While the campground is small, with around 30 sites, we got one of the 6 full hookup, 50 amp sites as there were only a few other campers. The sites are $12 per night, hookups or not, but campers do have to pay a one time (per stay) entrance fee of $8/adult and $6/child. Since we qualified for the group rate (LOL!), we had $60 in entrance fees – but, averaged over the 14 days we stayed there, it was still only around $16/night total. Not bad.
Moundville Archaeological Park is a great place to explore – especially on foot. For such a small park, there is a ton to check out, and it’s unique. If you are in the Tuscaloosa area, give it an afternoon (at least!)