“a National Natural Landmark”
Dismals Canyon is a sandstone gorge near Phil Campbell in Franklin County, Alabama. It was declared a National Natural Landmark in May 1974. Dismals Canyon is one of only a few places where insects called dismalites (Orfelia fultoni, a distant relative of Arachnocampa) can be found. The larval forms of these flies emit a bright blue-green light to attract food and mates. They cover the canyon wall. The canyon is home to two waterfalls, Secret Falls and Rainbow Falls, and six natural bridges.Dismals Canyon is operated commercially as part of an 85-acre (340,000 m2) nature preserve, and a fee is charged for entry. Night tours are conducted to view the dismalites. Camping is available in both traditional campsites and in cabins. Chickasaw Indians were held captive in the canyon for two weeks before embarking on a forced journey along the Trail of Tears. Several outlaws have allegedly hidden in the canyon, including Jesse James and Aaron Burr.
Nice little cavern, but the main trail is very hard to follow as people have made their own trails, and it is difficult to tell the difference between the two. Walking the cavern only takes about an hour to an hour and a half, so if you are taking a night tour be prepared to wait around a while. Luckily there is a food counter with a great brownie sunday because there is nothing else in the vicinity. Unfortunately I was less than impressed with the night tour. Only a few dismalites were visible, and made even more difficult to see due to other people on the tour waving around very bright flashlights that were not red filtered. The night tour may be more impressive during the peak season of May/June, but I was unaware that there was a peak season before going..
AWESOME! MUST SEE! expect to spend 3 hours walking around this incredible wilderness of cliffs, trees, water, etc. Bring water, good shoes that you don't mind getting wet, shorts... Nice little spot to eat and cool little store/gift shop at the top of the hill. Really neat is how much cooler it is down in the canyon.
Very nice place to get a little hike. Rainbow falls is at the beginning of the trail. Some steep steps to get down to the canyon floor. Some narrow spots in places. We took about 1 1/2 hours to do the loop and we even got lost. Trails not marked very well. Soda fountain and grill were closed due to Covid. Very enjoyable. Not much room to park a RV in the parking lot. You might call first to see about parking.
We visited Dismals Canyon on a cross county RV trip in September and it was beautiful. The giant, moss-covered rocks make it feel like you're walking through Jurassic Park and the waterfalls are beautiful.
We stayed for two nights in one of the cabins for mid-trip break from the RV. The cabin was absolutely charming and felt like something out of a Disney Christmas special.
The soda fountain is only open Friday-Sunday for limited hours, but the cabin has a full kitchen with plates, pans, etc., so you can make your own food.
If you're used to healthy/organic be sure you know where you'll be stopping for food before you leave. We stopped at Whole Foods in Memphis that morning but tried to find fresh fruit once we got closer and the only grocery store we found really limited, not-so-fresh produce options and no organic food.
They allow pets for an additional fee ($40 per pet for the stay), plus extra deposit. Our dogs had a great time, but if you have allergies, it might be worth checking to see if they have a cabin that stays fur-free.
This is a fantastic place to unwind and experience some incredibly cool facets of nature and is definitely worth the trip!
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Rainbow Falls-Dismals Canyon
- Fri: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
- Sat: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
- Sun: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
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