Referred to as “The Big Apple of the 14th Century,” Moundville Archaeological Park is one of the premiere Native American sites in the country. Once a power community, Moundville was the largest city north of Mexico. Located just outside of Tuscaloosa on the Black Warrior River, the park encompasses more than 300 acres and 29 flat-topped mounds. Today, visitors get to see the how the Mississippians lived nearly 800 years ago on this land. There are so many reasons why a visit here is a must!
Jones Archeological Museum: Opened in 1939 when the site was simply known as the Mound State Monument, the Jones Archeological Museum greeted visitors for many years before the University of Alabama took on an effort to revive and redefine the museum. The result was a $5 million renovation in 1999. The museum that guests see today was opened in 2010 and offers some of the most stunning artifacts found on site. Their state-of-the-art technology and history exhibits tell the story of the civilization for visitors from all over the world.
Campground: Most visitors do not get the pleasure of staying on the site of such a significant historical site but that is exactly what is offered here! Even though reservations are only made on-site, the campground has 5 sites with electric, water, and sewer hookups, 24 sites with electric and water hookups, and 5 primitive sites with no utilities. However, there is a bathhouse on site! What a neat place to spend a few days!
Facility Rental: The Nelson B. Jones Conference Center is not only the place many special events are held by the park, but it is also available for rental for the public! The center overlooks the Black Warrior River and contains a full kitchen, fireplace, sound system, internet, and a video projector. This is a perfect location with a stunning backdrop for any of your special occasions.
Native American Festival: Scheduled for October 12-15 of this year, the event gives guests an opportunity to get a better understanding of the Native American culture through performers, demonstrations, and living history teachers. The festival will include hoop dancing, Chickasaw stomp dancing, as well as cooking, dressmaking, and even stickball demonstrations.
Climb Mound B and P: Mounds B and P both have stairways that make them accessible to the visitors who want to see the view from the top. These perspectives offer a panoramic view of the entire park and give a new appreciation to the hard work and dedication the Mississippian’s had in building these massive, flat top mounds.
Douglas Nature Trail: This nature trail winds just off the main road of the park and allows visitors to walk along a path that the Native Americans of the day would have frequented. Along the way, viewing native plants and the many wildflower varieties that grow there. The trail winds back to two mounds that look as though the Mississippian’s just completed them. If you are able, this is a walk that makes you feel as though you are stepping back in time.
Village Lifeways Exhibits: Between the river and the museum, there are several huts created to look like the woody area would have been many centuries ago. Throughout the village, exhibits are placed in the huts, explaining aspects of the life of the Mississippians. This is a huge element in learning and the daily life and culture of the Native Americans who called this area home.
History: There is no doubt the history of Moundville is simply amazing. The Moundville site was occupied from around 1000 AD to 1450 AD. Moundville, in terms of size, is second only to Cahokia in Illinois. Through all the research and excavations, the sudden rise nor the decline of Moundville and its people is readily known.
Scenic Overlook: The Black Warrior River would have been one of the reasons the Mississippians would have settled on this property. Today, a visit down to the conference center will allow you the perfect view of the river and have you wondering how things may have looked when the first Mississippians arrived on site. This is one of those, “if these walls could talk,” moments.
Commit to Volunteer: An incredible location like Moundville cannot be successful without the dedicated staff and the willing volunteers. If you live close enough to help, make sure to ask how you can get involved! If you are like us, falling in love with Moundville Archaeological Park was nearly at first site and we have to make an effort in all ways to ensure this is around for generations to come.