A trip to Horseshoe Bend National Military Park should be a safe and enjoyable one. Below are some reminders that will help ensure the safety and success of your visit.
Protect Yourself and Your History
Two cannon are outdoors on the park grounds. Do not climb on them. Additionally, two outdoor education pavilions are located along the Battlefield. Do not attempt to climb these structures. They should not be used as picnic sites. Be respectful of the gravesite and historic markers found around the Battlefield.
Explosives, fireworks, firearms, and other weapons are not permitted at any time. Park staff includes commissioned law enforcement rangers who may wear sidearms. Park interpreters are certified as black powder demonstrators.
All park resources – natural, cultural, and historical – are protected by federal law. It is illegal to remove, damage, or destroy any park resources. Activities such as metal detecting and relic hunting are serious offenses under the law.
While Horseshoe Bend seems “off the beaten path” to most visitors, nearly 1.0 million people pass through the park each year on Alabama Highway 49. The speed limit within the park is 45 miles per hour and is strictly enforced. Slow down. Remember this is a special place that deserves your respect.
The Tour Road speed limit is 15 miles per hour. This 3 mile route is extremely popular with park neighbors as a morning or late afternoon fitness walk. Expect to encounter mixed uses on the Tour Road. Slow down and pay attention. Take the time to stop at the five tour stops and get out of your car, rather than attempting to experience Horseshoe Bend from your vehicle.
Passenger restraints such as seat belts or age appropriate car seats must be used at all times in the park, including Highway 49 traffic. All state and federal traffic laws are applicable in the park.
Cell Phone Use
While Horseshoe Bend is relatively close to so many towns, we are still somewhat remote. Do not plan on relying on your cell phone for communication while at the park. Coverage is minimal.
Visitation to the park should be conducted only during the posted operating hours. This ensures we know you are here and can more readily provide assistance should there be an emergency.
If you walk the Tour Road, share the road with all users. Because the speed limit is only 15 miles per hour, vehicle noise is minimal. Keep an eye out for vehicles at all times – particularly on the two-way traffic section.
Carry water, a snack, and a jacket. Remember to pack out whatever you bring in. Do not litter.
- Personal flotation devices (PFDs or lifejackets) are required for passengers on watercraft.
- Children under 13 years of age must wear a PFD or lifejackets while above a moving vessel include a boat, canoe, or inner tube.
- Don’t drink alcohol when operating a boat! Approximately half of all boating and swimming deaths in the United States involve alcohol.
- Learn how to “read” a river. Water riffles means that rocks lie dangerously close to the surface. Follow the smooth water shaped like a “V” pointing downstream.
- Keep the bow of a canoe headed downstream with the current. If the canoe is sideways, it will tip if it strikes a wave or rock. In areas of high motorboat traffic, canoe near the shore and head into the wake to avoid capsizing.
- Do not swim alone. Consider wearing a lifejacket.
- Never leave children unattended.
- Lightning may occur so keep an eye on the weather. Because water attracts lightning, be sure to get to shore and away from the water quickly.
- Stay clear of overhanging and downed trees.
- Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat – even on overcast days.
Deer ticks, the carriers of Lyme disease, exist within the park. Although few cases of Lyme disease have been reported in the state of Alabama, it is a possibility if you come into contact with deer ticks. If a deer tick bites you, watch for a bulls-eye rash or flu-like symptoms and seek medical attention. If you develop these symptoms, notify your doctor that you have been in an area with deer ticks even if you do not think you’ve been bitten by a tick.
Hypothermia and Heat-Related Distress
Exposure to cool air or cold water temperatures can lead to hypothermia even when the temperatures are relatively warm. Dress appropriately and bring spare clothes in case you get wet. The weather at the park during the summer and early fall months is quite hot and humid with occasional torrential rainstorms. Be prepared for changing weather conditions. Drink plenty of water. Fountains are available at the Visitor Center.
Horseshoe Bend is home to a range of stinging and biting insects. Watch for the large mounds of the fire ants in open areas or road/trailside.
Horseshoe Bend park rangers regularly patrol the Miller Bridge Boat Ramp and Tour Road stops; however, you are responsible for your own safety and security. Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. Lock doors and keep gear in the trunk or a non-visible area.
Four species of poisonous snake make their homes within Horseshoe Bend: Copperheads, water moccasins (cottonmouth), timber rattlesnakes, and pygmy rattlesnakes. Although relatively rare, these reptiles – all pit vipers with fangs that can inject poison – can be found anywhere in the park. Look before placing hands or feet into small crevices.
Keep the Wildlife Wild
Raccoons, birds, and other animals are attracted by human food around the picnic areas. They quickly learn to depend on humans for meals and may lose their ability to find their own food. Most human food contains sugars, salts, or chemicals that impact wildlife health and lead to illness and dehydration. Fed wildlife is more likely to become aggressive toward people when hungry. All in all, it’s never permissible to feed park wildlife. Clean up after yourself if picnicking. Do not litter. NEVER feed wildlife – at all. Keep our animals wild and keep yourself safe.