DeSoto State Park Is Setting for Award-winning Short Story

Scenic DeSoto State Park is the setting for an award-winning short story by Trussville, Ala. resident Natalie Cone. “The Totem” was [INVALID]ed from among 20 entries by writers across the country as the winner of the Lookout Alabama/Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative (SELTI) Writing Contest.

SELTI’s contest challenged writers to compose short stories promoting tourism in northeast Alabama’s Lookout Mountain region. DeSoto State Park is located near Fort Payne, Ala., in the northeast part of the state. Cone’s story was published in the inaugural issue of Lookout Alabama magazine in June ( The story is based on a man who is camping at DeSoto and also features Laurel Falls, one of several waterfalls in the park.

Cone enjoys camping at DeSoto State Park and wrote about her real-life experiences for Outdoor Alabama magazine several years ago. That article was about a weekend camping with her husband at DeSoto. While the short story that won the contest is fiction, Cone [INVALID]ed DeSoto because it is a place she knows well. “I decided to use DeSoto State Park for the setting because it is a place that holds so many wonderful memories for my husband and me, and my 2-year-old loves it. We have gone camping there for years. The beauty, serenity and variety of hiking trails draw us back again and again,” she said.

Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein is pleased that DeSoto was used as the setting for the winning short story. Details have yet to be worked out, but Lein said he is in a conversation with SELTI about a potential contest that would feature all 22 Alabama state parks. “I hear of so many people who have great memories at our parks, so I think an association with this writing contest would be a beneficial partnership,” he said.

The Alabama State Parks Division operates and maintains 22 state parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water. These parks rely on visitor user fees to fund operations and currently receive no appropriated funding from the state’s general fund. To learn more about Alabama State Parks, visit