MONTGOMERY, Ala. – TripAdvisor, an industry leader in online travel reservation services and user reviews, has presented 17 Certificate of Excellence awards to 11 Alabama State Parks for 2017. The 17 awards are the most ever for Alabama’s State Parks, tying last year’s number of honors from the world’s largest travel site.
Gulf State Park earned four awards and Joe Wheeler State Park Lodge earned its first Certificate of Excellence mention.
Gulf State Park was honored for its overall park, its piers and boardwalks, its campground and for the Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trail.
Lake Guntersville State Park, DeSoto State Park and Joe Wheeler State Park received two awards each.
Along with its first award for lodging at Joe Wheeler State Park Lodge, the park also was honored for the overall park experience.
“We all know how important Joe Wheeler is in attracting tourists to North Alabama,” said Tami Reist, president and chief executive officer of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. “The park is such a wonderful place to spend time in the outdoors in Alabama and we are so pleased that TripAdvisor’s users recognized it this year.” 
DeSoto State Park was mentioned for its mountains, nature and wildlife areas, along with an overall park certificate. Guntersville picked up a lodging award for the Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge and an overall award for the park. In 2016, Lake Guntersville State Park was ranked No. 1 on TripAdvisor’s “25 Travel Destinations with Skyrocketing Vacation Rental Interest” list.
TripAdvisor, which has more than 500 million reviews and opinions posted online, is a major driver of tourists to new destinations across the country.
“We’re thrilled that TripAdvisor users love our parks as much as we do,” said Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director. “Our staff works hard to make sure visitors have first-class experiences enjoying our beautiful state and it’s nice to be recognized.
“Services like TripAdvisor are important to get the word out about our parks to people who love the outdoors, but may have not considered visiting Alabama. We have a great track record with repeat visitors, proof that when you come to an Alabama State Park you’ll enjoy your experience. There’s something for everyone at our parks.”
Every park in the Alabama State Parks System is also now benefiting from the passage of Amendment 2 in last November’s election, which by prohibiting parks’ funds from being transferred allows for renewed maintenance projects. Regular maintenance and other improvements help influence visitors to make Alabama State Parks their outdoors recreation destination.
The other awards from TripAdvisor were for best parks. Those honorees are Cathedral Caverns, Monte Sano, Oak Mountain, Wind Creek, Cheaha, Lakepoint and Chewacla. 

Photo: Joe Wheeler State Park Lodge in Rogersville, Ala., earned its first Certificate of Excellence mention.