Day Trip: Sunshine and Sunflowers in Autaugaville

Looking for a new July adventure? How about a trek to see a field full of sunflowers? 

The sunflower field in Autaugaville that draws visitors from across the state and beyond will open July 1st just in time for the long, holiday weekend. 

Todd and Kim Sheridan own field along Alabama Highway 14 and plant about million sunflower seeds each May, according to an article. The field opens again July 1st, 2022, and blooms typically last for about 10 days, but there will be blooms for about 3 weeks. This year they also have a new wagon ride to make this experience even more fun for just $5!

Tips for visiting the Sunflower Field

sunflower-field-summerThe owners ask that visitors don’t bring pets. There is no charge to enter the field or take photos of your own children with your phone or camera. However, professional photographers must pay $20 per client/session in the field. 

You can even bring home a bucket of the cheery flowers. We recommend you bring your own cutters for safety reasons, although the farm has some available. Buckets are also available in the field, and you can put up to 14 flowers in a bucket for $10. 

You can also buy a single flower for $1 each. 

Field owners also sell T-shirts, tea towels, and sunflower seed packets. Be sure to bring cash or a checkbook as the Sunflower Field does not accept cards. 

To find the fields, use 101 County Road 33, Autaugaville, 36003, into your GPS. The field is open from sunrise to sunset. 

Days of bloom + others tips and reminders from the field

“We sprout ‘em, grow ‘em and watch ‘em bloom.” Keep updated on closures and other bloom dates throughout the season via their Facebook page here.

Important before-you-go tips:
1) July 10th began the last bloom. This planting will be in bloom for about 10 days.
3) Cash ONLY
4) There is one porta-potty on site for emergencies – they HIGHLY recommend making a stop to use the restroom before you get there.
5) There are lots of bees in the field. If you are allergic, please be aware. They generally keep to themselves and do their jobs!
6) Bring your own clippers if you can. There are some onsite, but people tend to walk off with them like ink pens.

Like most activities nowadays, it’s best to check before you go to ensure the field is still open to visitors and any safety measures in place. You can follow the Sunflower Field on Facebook for current updates and other information. For more information, please visit

Find all your summer fun essentials at Alabama Outdoors. We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors

Top Firework Shows in Alabama 2022


This year is no different than last year in that we are all certainly ready to get out and celebrate and firework shows are ready to show off! With some shows still being cancelled last year, most cities and municipalities are looking forward to and planning this years shows to be a blowout! Below we have listed our Top 5 firework shows across Alabama this year. 

Top 5 firework shows in Alabama


City: Birmingham
Date: Monday July 4th
Status: Starts at 9 p.m.
Location: Vulcan Park & Museum

Thunder on the Mountain at Vulcan Park and Museum is one of the state’s largest firework shows. Not only are there many vantage watching points around Birmingham, the colorful fireworks light up the sky behind the Vulcan Statue making this one of the most memorable and breathtaking shows you will see. It truly shows why Birmingham is The Magic City. Just find your favorite spot, sit back in your camp chair or blanket, relax, and enjoy the show. The show is free to the public and will last approximately 20 minutes

Prime viewing locations include Five Points South, Homewood, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, and the UAB campus, among others. We recommend finding a place to view the show well in advance of the 9 p.m. show. 

Please note: That Vulcan Park & Museum will close at  6  p.m. No spectators will be allowed inside the park or at the entrance to Vulcan Trail.


City: Gulf Shores
Date: Monday July 4th
Status: Starts at 9 p.m.
-7 a.m.: The Gulf State Park Pier will close to the public for firework setup.
-12 p.m.: The pier will reopen to the general to a point beyond the bathhouse, maintaining a distance from the fireworks setup.
-8:30 p.m.: The Fire Marshal will close the pier for the fireworks show.
-9 p.m.: Show begins
Location: 20800 E. Beach Blvd.

Due to ongoing construction, fireworks will be shot from the center of the pier this year. This means that Gulf State Park and the eastern area of the Gulf Shores Public Beach are ideal spots to watch this spectacular show. The beach + fireworks? We’re in. Check out more information here. The Lodge at Gulf State Park will be hosting their own ticketed celebration as well filled with live music, food, games, and a watermelon eating contest! Find more information about the event here.

  • For other Independence Day celebrations around Gulf Shores and Orange beach, click here.
  • For information about Mobile’s Downtown Independence Day extravaganza, click here!


City: Trussville
Date: Monday July 4th
Status: The celebration starts at 5 p.m. and fireworks begin at 9 p.m.
Location: Mall in historic downtown Trussville

The celebration will include food vendors like Wasabi Juan’s, Southland BBQ, and Bendy’s Ice Cream, and many more! There will also be live music throughout the celebration by DJ Platinum at 6pm and Act of Congress taking the stage at 7:30pm to get you ready for the firework spectacular. The fireworks show begins at 9 p.m. and the celebration is free to the public. Come see what Trussville is all about!

Parking is available all around the historic downtown area so arrive early to get a good spot. The best way to find the Mall in the historic downtown is to put the Cahaba Elementary (301 Parkway Drive) into your GPS and it will lead you right to the event.


City: Florence
Date: Friday July 1st
Status: 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Location: McFarland Park 200 Jim Spain Drive, Florence, AL 35630

The 39th Annual Spirit of Freedom Celebration is one not to miss as it is said to be one 0f the largest in the Southeast. *TAKE NOTE: This year’s celebration will be held on Friday July 1st. Spend the day celebrating at McFarland Park with your family. With food vendors onsite, nationally-known musicians performing all day, and activities for the entire family this will be a day full of fun for everyone! End the celebration relaxing back and watching the fireworks light up the sky over the Tennessee River.


City: Eclectic
Date: Monday July 4th
Status: Concert begins at 6:30 p.m., Firework show begins at 9p.m.
Location: The AMP on Lake Martin (Lake Martin Amphitheater)

After a day on the lake, head on over to the Lake Martin Amphitheater for an evening of good music and a phenomenal firework show! Doors open at 5:30 p.m. so be sure to get there early to get a good spot. Remember to bring your blankets and camp chairs for a relaxing evening on the lawn of the amphitheater. You will get to listen to tunes from Andrew Jannakos at 8pm and opening with The Bank Walkers at 6:30 pm. End the evening with a stunning firework display over the lake. Tickets are only $10 and you can buy them here.


While the U.S. Space and Rocket Center firework show is cancelled again this year, there are many other firework shows, festivals, and events happening all around Huntsville. Check out all events in Huntsville here.


Other 4th of July fireworks tips

Keep in mind that event plans could change depending on weather, so be sure to check on the day of the event to confirm an event is still scheduled and begins at the same time.

We recommend:

  • Packing a cooler with your favorite snacks, bring a blanket, and comfortable chairs for ultimate firework gazing.
  • Finding a remote spot with a decent view of the show and having a picnic.
  • Planning a backyard barbecue and watching the fireworks from home! Get some sparklers and have a safe celebration at home.

Looking for Independence Day essentials? We can help! Alabama Outdoors wants everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors

6 Tips for Planning the Perfect Overnight Canoe Trip in Alabama


Plan the perfect overnight canoe trip in Alabama.


Looking to celebrate #NationalCampingMonth but also be on the water during these hot Alabama summer days? Read below for 6 tips to get you prepared for an overnight canoe trip!

There is absolutely nothing more soothing than the sound of water lapping on a shore, canoe, or kayak, or the beautiful white noise of water roaring through a tight rocky chute or crashing on the shore of a pearly white beach.

If you’ve experienced these sounds, whether by kayak or canoe, you know how they can make a might outdoors especially tranquil. Now, imagine being lulled to sleep by these soothing sounds as you camp next to those waters.

Camping near a slow-moving blackwater river, beside a rushing stream, in dark and mysterious bayous, or along a sandy shore is truly a remarkable experience. Whether you’re a beginner looking forward to your first paddle campout or a seasoned boater, there are some important steps you need to take to ensure that your overnight paddling trip goes smoothly. Here are six of the most important things to consider.

1. Choose a Suitable Trip

The key to experiencing the perfect overnight canoe trip is selecting a destination that matches your desires and abilities. Of course, you want to select a journey that has plenty of natural beauty, history, wildlife, and maybe even a few challenges—but, it should be reasonable. It’s thrilling to dream of paddling among alligators in the dark bayous of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta (aka “America’s Amazon”), but that dream involves certain risks that are suited to only the most seasoned paddlers.

Choosing the perfect trip boils down to picking a route that fits your skill level. If you’re a beginner, you should consider trying your first paddling campout with an experienced group or outfitter.

It’s also important to factor in time requirements. Consider how much time you have for a trip, taking into account travel times to the put-ins, take-outs, breaks for lunch, swimming, etc. That will help determine the length of the trip.

Start slow and work your way up to more challenging trips, and always keep it simple. Shorter trips on smaller bodies of water are just as fun and exciting as paddling larger waterways.

2. Consult the Experts

Pull out that old trusty paper map or guidebook or consult online maps to find a waterway to your liking. Then, use the internet to find local clubs and outfitters in the area of the waterway you want to paddle.

“The knowledge of an outfitter allows you to experience everything from whitewater to the salty waves of the Gulf of Mexico and everything in between,” says Jim Felder with Alabama Scenic River Trail (ASRT). “They can show you things it could take you a lifetime to learn otherwise.”

Outfitters can offer insights on the best times of year to paddle the waterway, and they’ll point out possible launch sites and takeout locations. Plus, they can inform you of possible campsites and identify areas prone to log jams and portages.

Another consideration is the weather. It’s not only important to be aware of storms so you can stay warm and dry, but it’s also important to know how weather affects the waterways. Heavy rain hundreds of miles north of a river will dramatically affect the river’s water levels farther south. Without warning, paddlers downstream of a storm could find themselves in swift, rising water. And keep in mind that it’s dangerous to paddle a river that has reached flood stage.

Many streams and creeks in the Southeast are seasonal, and rain greatly affects their water levels. During periods of heavy rain, waterways can reach flood stage and become too hazardous to paddle. During a drought, there might not be enough water to allow your boat to float, and you’ll end up dragging it frequently.

Before you launch, consult an outfitter, American Whitewater, or another resource to determine the current water flow of your destination and whether the conditions are safe.

You also need to identify quick escape routes in case of emergency. “With Google Earth and all the other satellite mapping resources these days, there should be little chance that you run out of places to get out of the water,” says Felder. “Anywhere a road crosses a creek, you can probably get out.”

3. Choose Campsites Carefully

Ok, so you’ve found the river you want to paddle. Now, what about camping? Many people think that any river, creek, or stream is publicly accessible. You may be just fine paddling that waterway, but unless designated campsites have been established, you may find yourself stepping out of the boat and trespassing on private property.

If land in the river—like a shoal or sandbar—has trees growing on it, it’s probably part of the adjacent landowner’s property. If there aren’t trees on the land, you’re likely OK.

Once again, this is where contacting local outfitters and paddling clubs comes in handy. You can also turn to ASRT, which has made things easier by logging hundreds of campsites along the state’s waterways.

4. Keep it Simple When Gearing Up

As you’re gathering your camping gear and supplies, remember the mantra “keep it simple.”

There’s no need to go fancy and invest in a lot of expensive gear. In general, you should try to carry a relatively lightweight load. Remember, you have to bring all of it with you. The size of your canoe or kayak will limit your load, and if you have to portage, you have to physically carry all of that gear with you. And, of course, extra weight and how it’s loaded can play havoc with the balance of your boat.

While it’s good idea to go light, don’t leave behind important essentials. Bring (and wear) your PFD, and be sure to pack food, water, a fire source, first-aid kit, flashlight, sunscreen, maps, and navigation devices. If you paddle during mosquito season, or if rain is a possibility, consider bringing a tent. Otherwise, you can choose to just sleep out under the stars.

Before you depart for your camping trip, do a shake down by loading your boat to find the perfect balance when stowing the gear. Then, eliminate any items that you decide you don’t really need.

Be sure to use watertight bags or containers to protect items that shouldn’t get wet, such as clothes, sleeping bags, electronics, matches or other fire-starting supplies.

5. Food and Water

The adventurer in all of us dreams of paddling down a river, dropping a line, and catching our meals fresh from the river. It’s a dream, friends. With luck you can, but it’s not something you want to rely on. So, do a little meal planning, and bring your own provisions. Most paddlers like quick and easy breakfasts to get the day started, a more substantial lunch, and a larger dinner.

Avoid carrying perishables like eggs, and keep things simple. Breakfasts can be as easy as oatmeal, cereal with dry milk, fresh fruit, bagels, or muffins. Lunches can be anything from PB&Js to tuna and crackers to summer sausage and cheese on crackers. For dinner, you can’t beat the latest freeze-dried meals. They’re tasty and quick, with easy cleanup. And, be sure to pack along your favorite snacks, too.

As for water, if you’re paddling freshwater that can be treated, bring the proper water-treatment system or a stove to boil water. Even if you’re prepared to treat water, you should still carry a minimum of one gallon of water per day per person.

6. Fire it Up

There’s nothing like sitting around a campfire after a day on a river. Before you shove off, check fire regulations to see whether or not campfires are allowed, where you can build them (sometimes they’re only allowed on sandbars), and if there are any burn bans in effect.

Organizing an overnight paddling trip for the first time can be a challenge, but it’s also pretty exciting. With all of the things you need to consider, it can feel like you’re planning a great expedition. By mapping out things carefully and gathering information from knowledgeable sources you’ll ensure smooth days on the water, and you’ll finally experience every paddler’s dream—a peaceful night where the lovely sound of lapping water lulls you to sleep.


Ready to be outdoors this Summer to celebrate National Camping Month? We have the camping + outdoor gear you need to get you on the trails! Not quite ready to commit to all of the gear? We get it! Click here to learn more about our Rental Program for your next trip! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors


Written by Joe Cuhaj for RootsRated in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of AL and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Featured image provided by Jordan Bauer

Take Dad Camping in an off-grid UNIMOG adventure

I love to explore, and I am always looking for new and unique experiences to enjoy around our great state of Alabama. I also enjoy spreading that knowledge on to the followers of Alabama Outdoors – because hey, sometimes you don’t think there is anything to do around here, and that can be the farthest from the truth. So, today’s adventure that I think you might love experiencing with a partner or even making it a great Father’s Day outing is off-grid camping inside of a German UNIMOG vehicle. Epic!


How did I hear about it?

I found Case Rock ECO Retreat on Airbnb, and it is run by Rachel and Glenn Evans. They had a listing for an “Off-Grid UNIMOG Zombie-Free Adventure,” and well…I am not going to pass that up. Better yet, you might think an off-grid experience would be quite a drive to get to, but this get-away is located in Kimberly, Alabama. So for me, living in Birmingham, that is a short 30-minute drive to be one-with-nature.

Find it here on Airbnb.


About the Off-Grid UNIMOG on Mog Mountain in Case Rock ECO Retreat

The UNIMOG is on Mog Mountain and is one of three Airbnb spots at the pet-friendly Case Rock Eco-Retreat. The main area to sleep is inside a 1966 UNIMOG used on the film sets of The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games. It is a four-wheel-drive military vehicle. There is a comfortable wooden pavilion that houses the Mog. It includes a kitchen, a living and dining space, an observation deck, a sleeping loft, an outdoor shower, and a composting toilet. All of this overlooks a fire pit and plenty of trees to hang your hammock up and chill.


Renting Off-Grid UNIMOG Adventure

Booking a rental for this adventure through Airbnb was quick and easy. Rachel and Glenn are “Super Hosts” through Airbnb, which means most everyone has a really great experience. There is an extensive House Rules section which you are strongly encouraged to read. Do not let this intimidate you. It is only in place to ensure you understand you will be off-grid and that you do not step into a situation you are not prepared for. For example, showing up thinking that you can drive your BMW right up to your campsite. Negative.


The Adventure Begins…

Upon arriving at Case Rock ECO Retreat, you will pull into the drive and take a right where you can park beside their goat pen. This is where your vehicle will stay, so as I said up top – do not think you will drive your car anywhere. Even if you have four-wheel drive, it will not make it on the very rough road to get to your campsite. You will be greeted by Glenn, who is very lovely and accommodating, and he will drive you the rest of the way in a UTV.

What should I pack?

Though the UNIMOG is off-grid, there are still plenty of accommodations where you do not need to bring too much gear. I recommend bringing the following to have a fun and comfortable stay:

  1. Bring a cooler packed with drinks, food (dinner & breakfast), and of course, the ingredients for S’mores. Psst, we have an excellent video for S’more recipes here. Remember, once you are out at the MOG, the only way back to your car is the long walk back down the entry road. Doordash or going out to a restaurant will not work here.
  2. Pack bug spray. The Mog Mountain pavilion has several citronella candles, but nothing beats on body/on gear protection. I recommend Sawyer Permethrin spray to treat any clothing you will be wearing as well as your hammocks or accessories. I use it on all my adventure trips.
  3. Bring a hammock. When I stayed the night, a hammock was already hanging, but I was unsure how long it had been exposed to weather and the elements, potentially causing the fabric to become thin and not secure. So, I recommend bringing your favorite hammock. I hung my ENO up between the two pavilion posts and was in heaven.
  4. Bring a towel. The beautiful Locust Fork River is a quick walk from the MOG, where you can swim and play in the water. Case Rock ECO Retreat provides bath towels but recommends using your own towel to dry off from the river. I brought a Nomadix Pack Towel because it packs down really well and isn’t bulky.
  5. Bring a change of clothes. Upon arriving, wear something comfortable, and that will keep you cool. More than likely, the temperatures will be warm by the time you check-in, so wear a good pair of breathable performance shorts, and a t-shirt paired with shoes that can grip terrain like Chacos. There are a little over 100 acres of property here with hiking trails, so you will get sweaty if you explore, so lightweight performance apparel is key here. Temperatures will more than likely dip at night, so always pack a long-sleeve, hoody, or light jacket, even if you do not think it could possibly get cold.

Accommodations to expect

I had a wonderful time staying at MOG Mountain and sleeping in the UNIMOG. It was the perfect balance of off-grid camping with the convenience of glamping and not overthinking about what to bring. Perhaps, we will call it off-grid glamping. It is a beautiful place to bring friends or family, relax, enjoy a unique experience, and not feel like you are entirely roughing it. If you know someone who wants to get into camping but may not be the most outdoorsy person, I 100% recommend the UNIMOG experience as their introduction into the outdoors camping world.


You will have a small kitchen with a gas stove, a place to sit and eat, an observation deck to climb up on, a composting toilet (think fancy outhouse with the feel of an indoor bathroom), and an outdoor shower with hot water. Case Rock ECO Retreat will also provide bath towels, sheets, soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and paper products (toilet paper). I had a wonderful experience, and I believe you will also. Have fun exploring!



Needing a gift for the dad in your life? Shop here for great gifts from top brands he is sure to love! We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we work to build loyalty one connection at a time. Visit one of our stores or take advantage of our shipping or curbside pickup! #BeOutdoors

2022 Father’s Day Gift Guide

We know shopping for Dad isn’t always easy. From steak subscriptions to lawnmowers, sometimes Father’s Day gifts feel like you’re just giving dad more work to do. So ditch the boring and forgettable this year and get Dad gear to get outdoors. Spend time together and enjoy some adventures by getting dad something he’ll really love!

For the fit dad who loves the gym

If your dad is a fitness fanatic, you know how often he needs new training shorts. Whether he’s lifting weights, pounding the pavement, or relaxing after a big workout, the Free Fly Men’s Lined Breeze Shorts – 7.5” inseam is perfect. These lightweight, lined shorts have two hand pockets and a drawstring for versatile comfort. With a moisture-wicking bamboo blend, they’re silky-smooth and feel great on the move or chilling out. And dad will love all the color options and the relaxed fit. Thanks to the 7.5-inch inseam, it has the right amount of coverage without limiting dad’s range of motion. Shop now

For the dad who’s always up for a weekend trek

For some, camping with dad is a cherished memory. Celebrate those memories together in The North Face Stormbreak 2 Person Tent. This classic style easy-going tent is the perfect car-camping companion. At only 5.8lbs, it’s perfect for setting up for the weekend as your basecamp for local adventures. Dad will love the extra headroom and optimized airflow that make it super liveable. Plus, the oversized doors provide a great view wherever you are, and the new design tackles bad weather with ease. Shop now

For the dad that’s always hitting the links

When playing golf isn’t enough and dad starts converting your backyard into a putting green, get him a classic Duck Head Men’s Hayes Performance Logo Polo. This sporty polo combines classic style with a poly-cotton blend for moisture-wicking comfort. With details like the iconic Duck Head logo and a breathable 3-button neck, it’s the right balance of subtle and style for dad. So whether you’re getting on the green together or just want him to think of you when he’s out there, check out these performance polos. Shop now


For the dad who’s always on the go

Dads on the move don’t need to settle for style when they travel with the Coastal Cotton Men’s Performance Stretch Tour Shorts – 7.5″ Inseam. These classic shorts feature a performance stretch design and essential style. Dad will love the extra stretch and comfortable fit. For the dad who’s always on the go and doesn’t want to slow down for style, get him the shorts that don’t compromise. Shop now

For the dad who’s impossible to shop for

Sometimes it’s impossible to find the perfect gift for dad. We’ve been there before, and that’s why the On Men’s Cloud 5 Shoes is always a great choice. These comfortable, lightweight sneakers are peak dad. From the easy-going, slip-on laces to the super supportive insole, they go with the flow and keep dad comfortable on his feet all day long. With colors that will match his style (or lack thereof) with ease. So if you’re all out of ideas for dad, check them out! Shop now


Shop all these great options and more this Father’s Day, and celebrate Real Dad’s Outside with Alabama Outdoors!