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Dismals Canyon

Geologic Feature
Rainbow Falls is one point of interest found in Dismals Canyon, a Natural National Landmark located in northwest Alabama. – John Dersham

ADA Accessibility Notes

The canyon floor is not wheelchair accessible. There are stairs in order to get down onto the canyon floor, and the trail is on very uneven terrain.

Tucked deep within the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is Dismals Canyon, an 85-acre quiet and unspoiled oasis. Here, visitors experience one of the finest examples of ecological and geological features composing our nation’s natural history.

Designated a National Natural Landmark, Dismals Canyon was originally occupied nearly 10,000 years ago by native tribes as learned from artifacts found scattered among bluff shelters, grottos, and other sanctuaries.

A 1.5 mile hiking trail on the canyon floor follows the stream through boulders, two waterfalls, natural bridges and a rich diversity of native plant life. Points of interest along the trail include Rainbow Falls, Grotto, Weeping Bluff, Temple Cave, Fat Man’s Misery, Champion Tree, Secret Falls, and the tiny creatures called Dismalites.

Above the entrance to the canyon floor is a natural pool that feeds Rainbow Falls. Swimming is permitted during daylight hours.

At night, the canyon lights up with tiny bioluminescent creatures called Dismalites. These "glowworms" require a select habitat to survive and are unique to only a few places on Earth. They are “close cousins” of the rare glowworms found in Australia and New Zealand. Guided night tours allow visitors to see these unique insects.

How to Get There

Dismals Canyon, is located in northwest Alabama about 30 miles west of the Sipsey Wilderness, 12 miles south of Russellville, Alabama off US-43/AL-17 between Russellville and Hamilton on Highway. 8.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets must be on a leash.

Recreational Opportunities

Hiking is available along a 1.5 mile hiking trail on the canyon floor. Above the entrance to the canyon floor is a natural pool that feeds Rainbow Falls. Swimming is permitted during daylight hours. There is also a large sandbox for the kids and a badminton net is available. Summertime is an inviting time to visit Dismals Canyon. The temperature runs some 14 degrees below Alabama's summer average. There are no mosquitoes, flies, or poison oak.


Seasons Accessible

Dismals Canyon is closed during the winter. It is scheduled to re-open March 3, 2017. For a current operating schedule, visit



Adult: $10 (day), $8 (night), $15.50 (combo) / Over 60: $9 (day), $7 (night), $14.50 (combo) / under 12: $6.75 (day), $5.75 (night), $10 (combo)

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