Dismals Canyon in Northwest Alabama is a secluded wilderness filled with skyreaching boulders and thundering waterfalls. It is designated as a “National Natural Landmark” by the National Park Service but remains privately owned and operated. It’s 85 acres offers a quiet and unspoiled oasis within the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
Dismals canyon is a sandstone gorge complete with two waterfalls and six natural bridges. It is also one of only a few places where insects called dismalites can be found. The larval forms of these flies emit a bright blue-green light to attract food and mates. The dismalites cover the canyon walls and are best viewed at night.
Upon entrance to the canyon visitors are provided with a trail map and gps coordinates for points of interest along the 1.5 mile hiking trail that follows the canyon floor. The hike is challenging due to the roughness of the canyon and involves climbing, stepping over objects, ducking out of the way of trees and overhead rocks and crossing streams.
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Even though the canyon is a designated Natural National Landmark it remains privately owned and operated. Admission is charged and price varies depending on the type of tour you take. We chose to do a self-guided day tour and our cost was $12 per person.
The photos below are a sampling of what you will see along the hiking trail. One must visit in person to fully experience the sights, sounds and smells of the natural phenomena of Dismals Canyon.
We spent approximately 2.5 hours hiking the canyon and taking in the sights. It was a very unique experience in that the landscape was so different than anything we had seen before. We recommend a trip to the canyon when in the area but only to those that are physically able to endure the ruggedness of the canyon. We would also suggest bringing water shoes of some sort to allow for more comfortable stream crossings.
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