Escape to THIS forest straight out of a fairytale

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Here’s your Friday getaway:

Dismals Canyon

Drive time from Nashville: 2 hours 45 min

This trip is perfect for travelers:

who have kids or love history

Where is Dismals Canyon?

Dismals Canyon is about 3 hours south of Nashville in Alabama in small town called Phil Campbell. About 40 minutes from Muscle Shoals and 1.5 hours from Huntsville, AL, there isn’t a wide array of activities from which to choose around the park.

What is Dismals Canyon?

At this park, you’ll find a sunken forest with mossy grottos and streams. Seriously, you’ll feel like you were transported to another world. You can also sign up for a night tour to see the rare glow worms that reside on the rocks, known as Dismalites.

It is a National Natural Landmark, truly a wonder with caves and waterfalls, a natural arboretum with official state trees of 30 states, and boulders and creeks all available to explore on an unguided hike.

Why is this trip for history buffs, as well?

Besides remnants from Paleoamericans being found on the canyon floor, the forest was where “U.S. Troops rounded up the Chickasaw Native Americans - forcing them from their ancestral lands” in 1838. It was here that they “held them under guard for two weeks before herding them like cattle to Muscle Shoals where they embarked on the Trail of Tears.”

What to do at Dismals Canyon?

  • night tour of dismalites (glow worms)

  • light hike (1.5 mile trail)

  • rent a cabin or primitive camp

  • visit general store for refreshments

Can you swim at Dismals Canyon?

There are areas where swimming is allowed.

Who owns Dismals Canyon?

Dismals Canyon is a privately owned conservatory, not a state park or a national park.

Tips for your trip to Dismals Canyon

  • Wear shoes that can get wet or muddy. Depending on weather, you may cross little creeks or the trail could be muddy.

  • Purchase your night tour tickets at least a week in advance. They often sell out.

  • The only bathroom available is at the start of hike.

  • There is a fee to hike the trail.

  • No hikes after 5pm

  • Most mediocre reviews have to do with cabin and camping experiences and staff. If making this an overnight trip, we suggest staying in Muscle Shoals or Huntsville and visiting the park only during the day.

  • Things to know if you rent a cabin: cell service is spotty, the park closes at 5pm, all gates to the park are locked at night.

  • Leashed pets are welcome.

How much is admission?

Prices are available here.

Want more hikes?

Here’s another hike, albeit waaaay more strenuous than this one.


Pin this trip for later!

#RoadTripUSA, #BestWeekendRoadTrips: Dismals Canyon, AL, photo via  Dismals Canyon

#RoadTripUSA, #BestWeekendRoadTrips: Dismals Canyon, AL, photo via Dismals Canyon


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