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Horse Pens 40

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3525 Co Hwy 42, Steele, AL 35987


Horse Pens 40 is a stunning rock formation located in the Appalachian Mountains of Alabama. With a rich history dating back thousands of years, including evidence of Native American settlements and a former cattle ranch, Horse Pens 40 has become a world-class bouldering site, attracting climbers from all over the world. But it's not just for climbers - the area offers endless opportunities for outdoor activities, from hiking and camping to bird watching and fishing. With over 2,000 acres to explore, visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of soaring rock formations, lush forests, meandering streams, and even a twisting rock maze. Horse Pens 40 is a unique and exciting destination for anyone looking for an adventure in nature.

Things To Do

Camping, Hiking, Bouldering, Cabin Rentals, and Picnicking, Bouldering Competitions, Bluegrass festivals, motorcycle rallies, arts and crafts Festivals, American Indian festivals, Tomato Festival, Civil War re-enactments, Mountain Man Rendezvous
50' x 120' covered pavilion
Primitive camping
RV hookups (water and with 30 amp elec.)
Country Store on site


Day use open 9:00am– till dusk Camping 24 hrs

Horse Pens 40 -Steele, Alabama

Horse Pens 40 -Steele, Alabama

Horse Pens 40, a hidden gem nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of northeastern Alabama, has long been a playground for nature enthusiasts and a sanctuary for ancient history. This 40-acre park, a natural wonderland of majestic sandstone boulders and lush forests, has been a gathering spot for over 15,000 years. Prehistoric Native Americans used the area for ceremonial purposes, leaving behind a rich cultural heritage that still echoes through the trees today.

The park’s name, Horse Pens 40, is steeped in history as well. In the 1800s, it was a popular stopover for travelers and horse traders who used the natural stone enclosures as makeshift pens for their horses. The unique landscape provided shelter and safety, a haven for weary travelers to rest before embarking on the next leg of their journey.

For generations, the area’s extraordinary rock formations have captivated visitors, particularly climbers. The park’s sandstone boulders, offer a thrilling challenge for climbers of all skill levels. From the delicate “pebble wrestling” of bouldering to the adrenaline-pumping ascent of highball routes towering 40 feet tall, Horse Pens 40 has established itself as one of the premier climbing destinations in the southeastern United States.

Walking among the enormous rock formations at Horse Pens 40, it’s impossible not to wonder about the processes that formed such breathtaking geological wonders. As you explore the park’s winding paths and walkways, you’ll encounter a myriad of unique rock formations, each one more magical than the last. From formations that resemble elephants and Indian heads to those that look like the surface of the moon, Horse Pens 40 truly has it all.

In addition to climbing, the park offers an array of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. Hiking and birdwatching enthusiasts can explore the many miles of winding trails that weave through the park’s pristine forests, while wildlife aficionados can catch a glimpse of the diverse species that call Horse Pens 40 home. From the curious gray fox to the rare Cerulean Warbler, the park is teeming with life.

One of the park’s most enchanting features is its vibrant display of wildflowers. In spring, the forest floor comes alive with a kaleidoscope of colors as wild azaleas, trilliums, and violets burst into bloom. The delicate beauty of these blooms, set against the backdrop of the park’s dramatic rock formations, creates a breathtaking scene that draws photographers and nature lovers alike.

Little Elephant Rock- Horse Pens 40 -Steele, Alabama

Little Elephant Rock- Horse Pens 40 -Steele, Alabama

As night falls on Horse Pens 40, the park reveals yet another treasure: an awe-inspiring view of the night sky. With minimal light pollution in the surrounding area, visitors can marvel at the celestial tapestry above, catching glimpses of shooting stars and constellations that have guided explorers for millennia. The serenity of the night sky offers a humbling reminder of our place in the vast cosmos.

The park’s rich history and natural beauty have inspired many events and festivals throughout the year. The famous Horse Pens 40 Bluegrass Festival, held annually in the fall, draws musicians and fans from across the country to celebrate the time-honored traditions of bluegrass music. Other events, such as climbing competitions and Native American cultural celebrations, showcase the park’s diverse appeal and importance to the local community.

Horse Pens 40, with its unique blend of history, natural beauty, and recreational opportunities, stands as a testament to the enchanting allure of Alabama’s great outdoors. This treasure in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains beckons visitors to explore its ancient wonders and create lasting memories amid the beauty and serenity of one of the South’s most captivating destinations.

Discover the Beauty of Alabama: 10 Outdoor Destinations Near Horse Pens 40

  • Cheaha State Park: Just a short drive from Horse Pens 40, Cheaha State Park boasts stunning mountain views, hiking trails, and a variety of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages.
  • Talladega National Forest: With over 392,000 acres of forests, rivers, and lakes, the Talladega National Forest offers visitors an opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Alabama through hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
  • Coosa River: Located just a few miles from Horse Pens 40, the Coosa River offers visitors a variety of recreational opportunities, including fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.
  • Desoto State Park: This scenic park is located just a short drive from Horse Pens 40 and features hiking trails, waterfalls, and other outdoor recreational activities.
  • Little River Canyon National Preserve: Home to the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi River, Little River Canyon National Preserve is a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities in this breathtakingly beautiful park.
  • Oak Mountain State Park: As Alabama’s largest state park, Oak Mountain State Park offers visitors a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, mountain biking, and more.
  • Noccalula Falls Park: Located in Gadsden, Alabama, Noccalula Falls Park features a 90-foot waterfall, hiking trails, and other outdoor recreational activities.
  • Turkey Creek Nature Preserve: This beautiful nature preserve offers visitors a chance to explore the natural beauty of Alabama through hiking trails, swimming holes, and other outdoor activities.
  • Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge: Located just a short drive from Horse Pens 40, the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge offers visitors a chance to see a variety of wildlife and explore the natural beauty of Alabama through hiking, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
  • Rickwood Caverns State Park: Home to one of the most beautiful underground caverns in the United States, Rickwood Caverns State Park offers visitors a chance to explore underground waterfalls, stalagmites, and other natural wonders.



Works Cited

Encyclopedia of Alabama. “Horse Pens 40.  https://encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/horse-pens-40/

Horse Pens 40.  http://www.hp40.com

Wikipedia. “Horse Pens 40.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_Pens_40/

Horse Pens 40 Park and Campgrounds, Rock Climbing, Overlook, Steele Alabama, Mushroom Rock