Metal Detecting In Alabama


Digital Alabama assumes no responsibility and shall be held blameless for any inaccurate, misquoted, out-of-date, superseded or otherwise incorrect information contained within its website or related documents.

The information posted here is based on personal experiences and research of the author(s)/contributor(s). The author advises that the reader check with local authorities before beginning a dig where there is any question regarding ownership of the site, ordinances or special restrictions regarding metal detecting or digging on public land, or removal or sale of archaeological finds.

This information is as timely and accurate as its author can make it; nevertheless, the author(s) and Digital Alabama disclaim all liability and cannot be held responsible for any problems that may arise from its use. Please do not use this information if you are unwilling to assume the risk.

Digital Alabama also warns that if you are in a park that is designated as “historical” in any sense of the words, then you should consider it off-limits.



Like most other states, metal detecting and treasure hunting in Alabama has its laws and restrictions. There are many good locations – just make sure you know the law and get written permission to enter private property.

Civil War battlefields, historical sites, American Indian properties and other protected lands are off limits. The author has found some incredible relics and artifacts, including belt buckles and musketballs, on the outskirts of where battles were fought as well as the fields where plantations once were.

During the Civil War many families buried their personal items as a means to keep their prized possessions out of Union hands, so former plantations and crop areas are great places to look as well.

National Park, Recreational Area or at a National Monument

Army Corps of Engineers


§ 327.14 Public property.
(a) Destruction, injury, defacement, removal or any alteration of public property including, but not limited to, developed facilities, natural formations, mineral deposits, historical and archaeological features, paleontological resources, boundary monumentation or markers and vegetative growth, is prohibited except when in accordance with written permission of the District Commander.
(b) Cutting or gathering of trees or parts of trees and/or the removal of wood from project lands is prohibited without written permission of the District Commander.
(c) Gathering of dead wood on the ground for use in designated recreation areas as firewood is permitted, unless prohibited and posted by the District Commander.
(d) The use of metal detectors is permitted on designated beaches or other previously disturbed areas unless prohibited by the District Commander for reasons of protection of archaeological, historical or paleontological resources. Specific information regarding metal detector policy and designated use areas is available at the Manager’s Office. Items found must be handled in accordance with §§ 327.15 and 327.16 except for non-identifiable items such as coins of value less than $25.

Metal Detecting In Alabama State Parks

*4 It shall be unlawful for any person to use any metal detection device in any State Park for the purpose of finding and removing, from said park, any items that are not his/her personal possessions without permission from the Park Manager.

Many state parks do allow metal detecting on the swimming beach, but ask first. Some parks like De Soto, are not friendly.


Alabama Metal Detecting Clubs

Great Places to Metal Detect in Alabama

Start With The History Of Your Hometown

Metal detecting is like the real estate business – it’s all about location. The places you choose to detect will dictate what you find and how much. Hinting on beaches gives the opportunity to find lost jewelry and coins. Ares near Civil War battles yield buttons, bayonets and a wide variety of other items. Note that you can not detect on designated historic areas but there are plenty of private properties located to Civil War sites and other locations of historical significance.

Think and research. What would you like to find? Then, go to places where those items may have been lost. Go where the people were. 

Historical Research Pays Off Better Than Random Hunting

If available, research of your area’s history will help you narrow your search locations to the more interesting and profitable areas. Ask local librarians to direct you to past articles about celebrations, sporting events and closed businesses. Seek out information on old maps, such as this one at the Library Of Congress, and land records. Earnestly search out old roadways, ball fields, meeting halls and boarding houses. Include the following locations to your areas of interest:

Abandoned Structures
Whatley Hotel, Whatley, Alabama, Clarke County

Built ca. 1888; closed ca. 1962

Whatley Hotel at Whatley, AL (built ca. 1888; closed ca. 1962)

The Whatley Hotel is a two-story, wood frame, building with a steep hip roof and an attached, wraparound, two-tier gallery displaying Queen Anne design elements such as turned posts with comer brackets and a spindled balustrade. The foundation for the Whatley Hotel was laid in early 1888. It is believed that Alexander David Whatley, the eldest son of F. B. Whatley, constructed the building. The Clarke County Democrat reported in February 1888 that he was laying the foundation for a hotel. The August 1888 issue of the Clarke County Democrat stated that “Messrs Nettles & Dacy are putting up a handsome, commodious building at Whatley, to be used as a hotel.” Presumably, Nettles and Dacy were the first owners. The first manager of the hotel was Mrs. Tracy Bettis Anderson. Later on, Alexander’s wife, Nancy A. Spinks Foreman Whatley, operated the hotel for many years. It was then managed by Mary Simian Coleman. From the 1930s or 1940s until c. 1962 when the hotel closed, it was managed by Velma Garrick Coleman.


Explorers and Expeditions
De Soto
Guido de las Bazares
Tristan de Luna
Abandoned Parks
  • Canyon Land Park, near Fort Payne
  • Lake City Amusement Park, Guntersville
  • Space City USA, near Huntsville – park was abandoned in the early 1960s before construction was completed
  • Styx River Water World, Loxley
  • Unsolved crimes
  • Discovery of gold and treasure
  • Historical Sites in Alabama
  • Natural disaster destruction
  • New roads and bridges
  • Research These Old Wagon Trains Routes and Native American Trails

    The Great Indian Warpath

    The Great Southern Trading and Migration Trail
    The Great Pensacola Trading Path (Wolf Trail)
    Upper Creek – Vicksburg Path
    The McIntosh Trail
    The Big Trading Path
    The Apalachicola-Alibamo Trail
    The Mobile-Tuckabatchie Trading Path
    The Alamuchee-Creek Trail
    The Federal Road
    The Great Savannah-Mississippi River Trail
    The Great Charleston-Chickasaw Trail
    The Great Cumberland River War Trail (Jackson Trace)
    High Town Path
    Jackson’s Military Road

  • Social and church events
  • Old town dumps
  • Old outhouses
Some Historical Areas Of Interest For Metal Detecting:
White Bluff
Historical Sites in Alabama
Ghost Towns in Alabama

Our historical research leads us to belive that ghost towns should produce some interesting finds.
Visit our Ghost Towns in Alabama page for more information.

Commonly Overlooked Places to Metal Detect

  • Old sidewalk tear outs
  • Alabama rivers and their creeks and streams
  • Railroad tracks
  • Fairgrounds
  • Swimming areas around lakes and rivers
  • Schoolyards
  • Old Home Sites
  • Seaside Beaches

Off Limits to Metal Detecting in Alabama

Metal Detector Users Not Welcome in Decatur Alabama Parks