Adventure Awaits! Be it untamed, natural beauty and wildlife, an immersive look at our historical past, or just a new adventure, Fort Morgan and the secluded Kiva Dunes do not fail to deliver.
What comes to mind when planning a beach vacation – a private sense of relaxation? Quality attractions? Time spent ressetting a misaligned work-life balance? While there are no wrong answers, most trip planners do not realize just how many other would-be vacationers are doing the exact same thing. The Alabama Gulf Coast, one of the fastest-growing markets in the country, is any travelers dream – with over five million visitors making it their vacation destination each summer – and the attention shows. With such popularity, it should come as no surprise that many other areas have become oversaturated – clogged with novelty shops and overly ‘tourist’ attractions. If a vacation of souvenir shops and crowds just isn’t your thing, why settle? Why waste hard-earned vacation days rummaging cheap-made trinkets in overpriced shops, trapped by crowds, when something more secluded – and relaxing – is so close at hand?
An Untamed Version of Alabama’s Coastline
With more developed areas like Gulf Shores taking up much of the spotlight, vacationers often overlook local gems like Fort Morgan (even though these hidden places may have even more to offer than some hotspot areas). Unlike the Gulf Shores and Perdido areas, Fort Morgan is less manicured, allowing native vegetation and wildlife populations to flourish the way they do not elsewhere. While some big name golf resorts and communities are in the area, much of the landscape along the peninsula is untouched — allowing non-natives a chance to experience a more untamed version of Alabama’s coastline. While many people look to Florida or elsewhere, the Fort Morgan area allows visitors access to first-class golf at Kiva Dunes and fishing opportunities without sacrificing a sense of seclusion and privacy that many, more populous areas just cannot.
This natural connection is especially evident in the layout of resorts and homes along AL-180, perhaps best characterized by the world-class golf and resort grounds at Kiva Dunes Resort, located on the Fort Morgan peninsula. The resort and its award-winning golf course – the very last before the state-run fort grounds at the end of Mobile Point – winds through acres of secluded greenery and natural lakes, producing a perfect balance of luxury and untended natural beauty common to the area.
The homes in the area are also nothing like the typical condo towers found in most tourist traps. The skyline along the peninsula is purer, the homes more resembling secluded villas blended with the natural landscape, instead of the beige and concrete slab buildings marring other seaside areas. It is this care and navigation of the intricate ecosystems, and the beautiful scenery found in Fort Morgan, that set it apart from other areas.
Stunning Natural Environment
Also lending to this one-of-a-kind natural experience, the Fort Morgan area also hosts access to the 7,157-acre Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge featuring over six miles of trails cutting through scrub forests, marshland, and secondary dune systems; this refuge is also home to many endangered species, such as the Alabama Beach Mouse and many varieties of sea turtles. In addition, the public-access beach near the fort itself is also far less developed than that of its more touristy counterparts, allowing it a native charm and quiet unlike anywhere else along the Alabama coast.
A Historical Treasure Trove
In conjunction with a stunning, natural environment, the Fort Morgan area also grants travelers the opportunity to experience history in a very hands-on environment. While preceded by a smaller wooden structure, the sizeable masonry fort, finished in 1833, played a significant role in the Battle of Mobile Bay — a large naval engagement in the American Civil War — and saw limited use during the Spanish-American, and first and second world wars. To add to the immersive atmosphere, the site features volunteers wearing time-specific clothing, showing what life was like when the fort was active; these activities range from soldierly demonstrations of the firing of percussion cap rifles to the showing of mending techniques used to keep clothes sturdy in the humid, Alabama climate.
While many costumed guides and living history spaces are available, the site is perfect for private exploration, with many battlements and various sites spread across the fort grounds. In addition to normal services, the fort also holds many special events during the year. It may prove beneficial to plan a trip around these events, such as the Battle of Mobile Commemoration held each August or the haunted tours given in late October. In addition to Civil War-era sites, more recent discoveries, such as the finding of Native American canals in the region earlier this year – radiocarbon dated at 1,400 years old – will surely add even more areas to explore in the near future!
Mobile Bay Ferry
Perhaps most unique to the Fort Morgan area, however, is one of the ways in which visitors can leave. Known as “the Gulf-Coast’s Most Scenic Drive,” the Mobile Bay Ferry – an area staple for many years – allows visitors quick access across the Bay to Dauphin Island, in nearby Mobile County. With over a thirty-minute drive back to Gulf Shores, the ferry trip to Dauphin Island clocks in at only ten additional minutes and showcases the entrance to Mobile Bay – granting passengers panoramic views of the teeming ecosystem found there.
Once on Dauphin Island, visitors need only drive from the ferry in their personal vehicles and explore an entirely new area! The island, home to the world-renowned Dauphin Island Sealab, Fort Gaines – Fort Morgan’s sister site – and the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, among other attractions, is sure to entice any avid traveler. At least one ferry runs, year-round, with an additional barge running during the busy season.
While it may sometimes seem a beach vacation is a tired thing, something done-to-death and far too ‘touristy,” there are still some places with something unique to offer. Be it untamed, natural beauty and wildlife, an immersive look at our historical past, or just a new adventure, Fort Morgan does not fail to deliver. In a saturated market where over five million visitors come each year, it is refreshing to find a place like Fort Morgan: picturesque and secluded, but still providing first-class services and a wealth of attractions rivaling that of any tourist trap.