Whooping Cranes & Bald Eagles

Check out some of Northern Alabama's best spots for bird watching.

There is nothing quite as majestic as seeing hundreds of whooping cranes gathered at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge or a lone bald eagle perched high in a tree at Lake Guntersville State Park. During the months of January and February, you can see both of these beautiful creatures in their natural habitats for the Festival of the Cranes and Eagle Awareness Weekends.

Tour Timeline: Early January

(Please note, depending on when flight arrives at Huntsville International Airport, optional afternoon and evening receptions or destination stops may be added.)


1. River & Brews Concert Series

The launch of the Old Black Bear beer-a collaboration between the International Crane Foundation and Old Black Bear Brewery. Half the proceeds from every can goes to the ICF's work to protect Whooping Cranes. A ticket includes a dinner buffet. A keg tapping ceremony with Joe Ritch and the Whooping Crane mascot will be there to say hi to folks. We also plan on doing a raffle to benefit ICF.

Festival of the Cranes

2. Festival of the Cranes

A free two day event in January, sponsored by the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, AL. View thousand of Sandhill Cranes along with several Whooping Cranes, ducks, geese, raptors, and perhaps a bald eagle from the comfort of a heated building at Wheeler NWR in Alabama. There are bleachers and spotting scopes available along with volunteers and staff standing by to answer all of your questions. Events include special speakers, films, live raptors, and children's activities.

Cook Museum of Natural Science

3. Cook's Natural Science Museum

he Cook Museum of Natural Science is a state-of-the-art natural science museum opening in 2019 in downtown Decatur, AL. It will provide a hands-on, immersive experience where kids can explore, interact with, and learn about nature. Families will leave the Cook Museum feeling fulfilled by their time together and inspired by the things they saw and learned. The museum will feature live animals (including bees, snakes, baby alligators, and turtles, and more), a life-like walk-in cave, saltwater aquariums with jellyfish and other ocean life, exhibits with mounted wildlife showcased in a natural habitat scene, exhibits showcasing rocks and minerals, space and our solar system, forests, arctic, deserts, rivers, streams, insects, and more.

Lake Guntersville State Park

4. Lake Guntersville State Park

Located along the banks of the Tennessee River in Northeast Alabama, Lake Guntersville Resort State Park promises to satisfy whether you are looking for a resort-style retreat or an outdoor adventure in the park’s 6,000 acres of natural woodlands. One of the main attractions at the park soars high above all the others. Thanks to conservation efforts Alabama's nesting bald eagle population is increasing, and Guntersville has become a focal point of Eagle Awareness in the state. Each year, on select weekends in January through the first weekend in February the park’s Eagle Awareness programs entertain and educate the public about our once endangered national symbol.

Eagle Awareness at Guntersville

5. Eagle Awareness Festival

The Guntersville State Park is home of the Eagle Awareness Program which offers eagle viewing field, trip, seminars and special programs each Jan-Feb. Eagle Awareness is celebrating 34 years in 2019. Alabama Travel & Tourism ranked this event #1 in the state for 2013.

Cathedral Caverns

6. Cathedral State Park

DAY 2 Stop 1 The first thing you notice about Cathedral Caverns is the massive entrance. The huge opening measures 126 feet wide and 25 feet high. Inside the cavern, you will find Big Rock Canyon, Mystery River and some of the most beautiful formations Mother Nature has ever created. Among them, you will see Stalagmite Mountain, the Frozen Waterfall, and Goliath, a huge stalagmite column that reaches the ceiling of the cave some 45 feet above! Human habitation can be traced back 8,000 years.

Jules J. Berta Vineyards

7. Jules J. Berta Winery

Located atop Sand Mountain in Albertville, Ala. The vineyards are five acres of vines on a 22 acre farm, and mostly consist of Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and other varietals. They additionally have fruits wines and muscadine wines grown by local Alabama farmers.

Guntersville Museum & Cultural Center

8. Guntersville Museum & Cultural Center

Located in a historic armory, the Guntersville Museum offers history and culture of the region with artifacts, gems and minerals, art and local flavor.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center

9. US Space & Rocket Center

Huntsville is home to the largest space museum in the world: the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Not only is America’s space program on exhibit in Huntsville, it was forged in Huntsville. We’re known as the “Rocket City” because Huntsville, Alabama is where rockets were developed that put men on the moon.

Huntsville Botanical Garden

10. Huntsville Botanical Garden

Huntsville Botanical Garden is located in the heart of Madison County, right off I-565, adjacent to the US Space & Rocket Center and offers the optimal blend – wildlife, foliage, florals, trails, specialty gardens, pavilions, a butterfly house, walkways, lakes, and more.

EarlyWorks Children's Museum

11. EarlyWorks

The EarlyWorks Family of Museums include the Alabama Constitution Village, the Huntsville Depot and Museum, and EarlyWorks Children's History Museum. These three museums in the heart of historic downtown Huntsville will take you on a journey back in time. Experience history as it comes to life.

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