Dismals Canyon


Intentionally private, Dismals Canyon - in keeping with its pristine surroundings - offers a quiet and unspoiled oasis in Alabama’s last secret hiding place. A secluded wilderness filled with natural phenomena tucked deep within the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

National Natural Landmark plaque

Dismals Canyon - located in Northwest Alabama - is an 85 acre Natural Conservatory privately owned and operated. It is not a State Park or National Park. However, it was designated a "National Natural Landmark" in 1975 by the National Natural Landmarks Program. NNLs are administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

National Natural Landmarks Program

National Natural Landmark

"Encourage and support the voluntary conservation of sites that illustrate the nation's geological and biological history, and to strengthen the public's appreciation of America's natural heritage."

Rainbow Falls photo by Brent Holman

Rainbow Falls
by Brent Holman

Through the heart of the canyon flows "Dismals Branch", a winding stream that enters the canyon with a roar through "Rainbow Falls".

A 1.5 mile hiking trail on the canyon floor follows the stream through skyreaching boulders, past thundering waterfalls, into a secret world of mossy-green and pearl gray filled with ferns and giant trees.

Photo by Daryl Forester

Bluff by Daryl Forester

Summertime finds Dismals Canyon cool and inviting. The temperature runs some 14 degrees below Alabama's summer average. There are no mosquitoes, flies, or poison oak.

Along with hiking and swimming - Romantic Cabins can be rented, Secluded Campsites are available, and a Country Store offers supplies, and includes a Soda Fountain & Grill.

Guided night tours allow visitors to view the glow-in-the-dark creatures known locally as Dismalites.

Sleeping Water campsite

Sleeping Water campsite
by Ronnie Harris

Development has been designed for tranquility and serenity and does not include big concrete RV pads/parking, man-made swimming pools, or Goofy Golf Courses, etc. Recreation is exploration of the natural environment.

Your visit is a step back to a time when the earth was clean and the water was clear. Aside from the necessary clearing of the trails, the canyon is now - as it has been for centuries - completely natural.

New t-shirts

Massage offerings

offered by appointment year round.
Available to cabin guests, day guests & campers.

We are now taking appointments at our new massage room. 48 hours notice requested for massage appointments.

Flowers of Fall

Dismals Canyon contains a rich diversity of native plant life, as well as many non-native varieties.


Cardinal Flower
(Lobelia cardinalis)


(Solidago sp.)


(Rhododendron sp.)


Small Head Blazing Star (Liatris microcephala )

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja) has been found at Dismals Canyon. Very rare & should not be growing here. Native to the west of the Americas.

National Natural Landmarks Program In-Depth

Watch this short video that explains what the National Natural Landmarks Program is and how it works.

Vimeo video from Taylor L. Holland

Dismals Canyon from Taylor L. Holland on Vimeo.

YouTube video from Zach V.


photo by Sean Graham

Rare Hellbender

In 2006 a Hellbender (giant Salamander) was found at Dismals Canyon. It is currently the most recently encountered hellbender in Alabama, and one of only three specimens that have been found in the state in the past twenty years. It's about 2 feet in length.

The organization Alabama Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (www.alaparc.org) has initiated a conservation effort (Alabama Hellbender Initiative) to assess the status of hellbenders in Alabama.

Other activities in the area

Sipsey Wilderness

Caney Falls
at Sipsey Wilderness
photo by Andra Smith

Sipsey Wilderness

Located about 30 miles east of Dismals Canyon in Bankhead National Forest. The Sipsey Wilderness area is one of only two designated wilderness areas in the state of Alabama. It covers approximately 25,000 acres, making it the third largest east of the Mississippi River.


Don't feel like hiking? There is no admission charge to eat & shop at the Country Store.




Note to visitors:

Admission is charged for entrance to the conservatory. Everyone must register & get a wrist bracelet.

We are not wheel chair accessible

No Picnicking Permitted

Dismals Canyon is a SMOKE FREE environment.

DO NOT remove, destroy or disturb any flora, fauna, rocks, etc.


Violators will be punished to the fullest extent allowed by Law.

Dismals Canyon Audio NEW t-shirt Design


Ronnie Harris

Nature can live without man, but man cannot live without nature.