There are so many gems to discover in North Alabama, and even after being born and raised here and living her for years as an adult, I’m still finding so many local adventures and attractions I’ve never been to. Recently we discovered all the fun things to do at Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden, Alabama. And I have to say, it made for the PERFECT family day!
There are so many things that make Noccalula Falls a great place to visit for the whole family: There are trails and outdoor adventures, fun activities for kids, plus the paved sidewalks make the park accessible to everyone in the family. It makes a great day trip from Huntsville or Birmingham.
Here are some of the fun things you can do at Nocallula Falls Park!
Note: Check park hours before you go. Dates and hours for the park, and certain attractions, can be seasonal and may change throughout the year. The park is generally closed during January and February.
Where is Noccalula Falls Park?
Noccalula Falls Park is located in Gadsden, Alabama, a city in northeast Alabama. It is about a 1 hour 30 minute drive from Huntsville and a little over an hour from Birmingham.
The park centers around a 90-foot waterfall, and it has family-friendly activities that make it a great day trip.
Things to do at Noccalula Falls Park
Check Out Noccalula Falls
Seeing the waterfall for which Noccalula Falls Park is named is the first must-do at the park! This 90-foot tall waterfall is named after a legend of a Native American Princess named Nocallula who chose to jump to her death rather than marry a person she didn’t want to. (I know, a bit of a dark back story.)
You’ll see Noccalula Falls from the top of the gorge. Walk around it to get different viewpoints. And since it is all fenced off, it’s safe for family members of all ages.
Also note that you can see Noccalula Falls without paying the entrance fee. There is a parking lot on the north side of the park with public access to view the falls. It’s meets right up with the paid access area (you’ll see where it’s gated off), so be sure to check out the views from both sides!
Ride the Train
Nothing delighted our kiddo more than riding the little train that goes around the park. Riding the train is a great way to get the lay of the land before you start exploring the park. There are stops at the gift shop, near the entrance to the Gorge Trail, and near the playground at the Kiwanis Pavilion. It goes along a 1-mile track around the park.
Riding the train is free with park entrance, with unlimited rides. Although if there are people waiting at the gift shop station, everyone has to disembark and get back in line if you want to go around again. Note that is a small train, so it might be a tight squeeze for some adults, and if you have a stroller you will need to fold it up.
Visit the Pioneer Village
In the center of Noccalula Falls Park is a pioneer village. The buildings will take you back in time, with displays of pioneer life. Most of the buildings rooms are blocked off, so you can see rather than enter. But kids will love running around in the this area, plus there are some swings and benches for the grown-ups. Also there is a lovely covered bridge!
Hike the Gorge Trail
If you want to get up close to the waterfall, the Gorge Trail is the way to do it. This trail will take you down into the Gorge and you can even walk behind Noccalula Falls!
The entrance to the Gorge Trail is near the Pioneer Village, right next to the second train stop. There is also entrance in the unpaid area of the park: The Black Creek Trail that starts by the wedding chapel will lead you to the Gorge Trail.
If you are a hiking enthusiast, Noccalula Falls also has a lot of other trails to enjoy! Check out the trail map here.
Looking for more North Alabama fun? Check out these 30 Things to do with Kids in Huntsville, AL!
Walk Through the Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens area of Noccalula Falls is another fun family area. Plus most of it has paved sidewalks for accessibility. The Botanical Gardens has a wedding pergola and a new sensory garden which helps kids explore the world through their five senses.
Also, I’m not sure if the trails between the Pioneer Village and the Botanical Gardens count as village or gardens, but they were so nice to wander (and have lots of shade).
And I’ll be honest here: it’s not like the Botanical Gardens area is huge or anything. But it is a pleasant little area to explore.
Explore Fat Man Squeeze
Near the Botanical Gardens is the Fat Man Squeeze, which is a super fun little area to explore. You descend just a bit below ground level into the cracks and crevices of the rocks. See what you can squeeze through!
And here’s a tip: on a hot day, this area is a bit cooler than everything else! So if you’re feeling overheated, this is a great place to hang out for a minute. (Also, there is a popsicle stand nearby — another great thing for a hot day!)
Play Mini Golf
Noccalula Falls Park has a mini golf course, which honestly is my idea of some great family fun! (Like really, we went to play putt-putt a few weeks ago and I was like, Why don’t we do this more often?) The mini golf course is located just a bit away from the main area of the park, with it’s own separate parking area you can drive to from the gift shop parking lot.
Mini golf costs $5 for adults and $4 for children and seniors. Be sure to check the hours of operation before you go (they may be different from the rest of the park). Generally, mini golf is closed during the winter months as well — November through February.
If you want to get more than just a day trip out of Noccalula Falls, you can actually go camping there!
The campground is located just north of the park, with access to a lot of the hiking. They have sites for tent camping, campers, and RVs. See more details here.
If camping isn’t your style, they also have two log-cabins near the campground. The cabins have two bedrooms, a kitchen, a fireplace, and a screened porch (a must for me with porches in the South!). More information on the cabins can be found here.
Note on the Petting Zoo
For years, Noccalula Falls has boasted a petting zoo with a pretty wide variety of animals.
Sadly, in 2021 the petting zoo barn caught fire and the petting zoo area of the park is currently closed. This was a beloved area of the park though, and we hope to see it rebuilt in the future. We’ll try to keep this post updated if we hear updates about rebuilding and reopening.
Noccalula Falls Park Hours and Pricing
As always, check their website for more information regarding hours and pricing before your visit, as these things are always subject to change.
The park is open March through October and weekends in November. During December they have special tickets for Christmas at the Falls, a special Christmas lights display.
The park is closed January and February.
Admission to the park is $6 for adults and $4 for children and adults. Kids 3 and under are free.
If you are looking for a fun day trip from Huntsville or Birmingham, Noccalula Falls is a great place that the whole family can enjoy!
For more North Alabama fun, check out Cathedral Caverns!