Little River Canyon National Preserve

Audio Available:

OVERVIEW: About this Audio-Described Brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of Little River Canyon National Preserve's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Little River Canyon National Preserve visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 46 minutes which we have divided into 35 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections 1 through 5 last about 28 minutes and cover the front of the brochure and includes information regarding the geological history of Little River Canyon, as well as images reflecting the diversity in recreation possibilities and wildlife found throughout the preserve. Sections 6 through 35 last about 18 minutes and cover the back of the brochure which consists of maps, important information, and images of waterfalls and wildlife. 

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OVERVIEW: Little River Canyon National Preserve

Located on the boundary of DeKalb and Cherokee Counties, in the rugged yet verdant landscape of northeast Alabama, Little River Canyon National Preserve was established in 1992 by Public Law 102-427 to protect the landscapes of the Little River Canyon. The authorized boundary of the preserve currently contains 15,288 acres, 11,042 acres of which are federally owned and managed. Protected within the preserve boundary are the spectacular Little River Canyon, the pristine Little River, and a number of rare and threatened plants and animal species. Together with the adjacent Desoto State Park, Little River Canyon National Preserve provides abundant scenic views and varied recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

The preserve sits at the southern edge of the Cumberland Plateau, a distinct physiographic region just to the west of the main Appalachian Mountain uplift. Composed of sandstone and other sedimentary rocks, this area has been eroded by water over millions of years to create a landscape of ridges, outcroppings, and gorges known as a 'dissected' plateau. Little River Canyon is one of the most spectacular landforms in this region, carved into the flat top of Lookout Mountain and reaching depths in excess of 600 feet in some sections. It is one of the deepest canyon systems east of the Mississippi River and the deepest in the state of Alabama.

The sculptor of this canyon is the Little River, which is notable for flowing for most of its length atop a mountain as well as for possessing very high water quality. The river flows from its headwaters in northwestern Georgia to Weiss Lake in a mostly unimpaired manner. To protect this water quality, the Little River and its tributaries receive the protections afforded under section 7(a) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and are also designated as Outstanding National Resource Waters by the state of Alabama, in relation to scenic, recreational, and fish and wildlife values.

Little River Canyon is home to an unusually diverse set of plant and animal species, owing to its location at the confluence of the Cumberland Plateau and Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic regions, as well as a number of different microhabitats created by the rugged physical features of the canyon. Some species found in the preserve are notable for their limited geographic distribution, such as the Kral's water-plantain (Sagittaria secundifolia), while others such as the green pitcher plant (Sarracenia oreophila) are listed as federally endangered.

The preserve offers a diverse range of recreational opportunities, including swimming, fishing, climbing, and world-class whitewater paddling, with the latter reaching peak season in winter and spring. Canyon Rim Drive (Alabama State Road 176) hugs the west rim of Little River Canyon, offering scenic drives and connecting a series of overlooks that offer views into the canyon, and Cherokee County Road 275 continues along the west rim down to the canyon mouth. Hunting and trapping are permitted by legislation within the preserve, and these activities are managed by the National Park Service in cooperation with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, listen to the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.

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OVERVIEW: Front Side of Brochure

The front page of the brochure features multiple pictures as well as general information about Little River Canyon National Preserve. Along the top of the brochure is a large black bar, with the words “Little River Canyon” in large white block letters at the top left, with an additional text, in a smaller typeface, at the top right reading, “Little River Canyon National Preserve, Alabama" and the words “National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior” to the right. To the far right is the National Park Service logo, a brown arrowhead shape, pointed down, with a green sequoia tree on the left side, green grass below, a white buffalo facing left in the grass, a white lake up and to the right of the buffalo, a snow white-capped mountain above the grass, and the words “National Park Service” in white above the mountain and to the right of the green sequoia.

Below the black bar are a series of 11 pictures side-by-side showing a variety of recreational activities, wildlife and wildflowers, and natural scenery available. A large picture of the canyon resides below, with text about the Preserve below, and a collage of more plants and animals, which can be found in the Preserve, at the bottom of the page. Descriptions of all text and images are available.

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IMAGES: Little River Canyon

IMAGE 1 of 11: Hike

DESCRIPTION:

A woman stands on a rock, hands on her hips, gazing out over a rock-strewn river in a canyon during the fall – deciduous trees are in fall colors of orange and yellow, with evergreen trees mixed among them. The sky is light gray, cloudy and overcast, and the muted light is reflecting on the water with dark gray rocks on either side. Her back is facing us, and she is wearing a red shirt, black pants, and white running shoes. Her blonde hair is in a ponytail and is half-way down her back. 

CAPTION:

A hike along the river.

CREDIT:

Donna Muccio

IMAGE 2 of 11: Blue shiner

DESCRIPTION:

The next picture to the right is of an endangered fish called a Blue Shiner – it lies with its head toward the top of the page. The fish is long and slender, with one fin on its top, three fins on its bottom, and two distinct fins on its tail. The Blue Shiner’s body is mostly shiny silver in color, with a smooth head and diamond-shaped scales from its gills to its tail. There are two narrow stripes connecting to each other along the length of the body from the gills to the tail – the upper stripe is peach-colored, and the lower stripe is bright blue in color. The fins and the tail are all a dull yellow in color. 

CAPTION:

Blue shiner.

CREDIT:

Dr. Carol Johnston State of Alabama


IMAGE 3 of 11: Little River Falls

DESCRIPTION:

The next picture to the right is of Little River Falls with morning sunlight at the top of the falls. The water flows over a 45-foot-tall rock ledge, which has many horizontal layers and crevices, spilling into a calm, lightly rippled pool of water, which reflects the orange sunlight from above the falls and the dark rock wall behind the falls. The pool flows around rocks toward the bottom of the picture. 

CAPTION:

Little River Falls.

CREDIT:

John Dersham

IMAGE 4 of 11: Dragonhead mint

DESCRIPTION:

The next picture to the right is of a flower called a False Dragonhead Mint. The flower stalk is tall and bright green, with seven unopened flower buds on each side beginning at the top. The next six flower buds below the unopened buds are light pink, round bumps. Below these are fully opened flowers. They are light pink and funnel-shaped, with an extended flat upper and lower lip at the end of the funnel. 

CAPTION:

False dragonhead mint.

CREDIT:

Gail Eichelberger

IMAGE 5 of 11: Plunger

DESCRIPTION:

The next picture to the right is of a white-water kayaker in mid-air after going over a waterfall. A man is in a small red kayak surrounded by white splashing water from a waterfall. He’s wearing a black helmet, a light gray short-sleeve shirt, a black life jacket, and is holding a paddle in both hands, shoulder-width apart. The paddle has a black shaft and round yellow paddle blades on each end. His kayak is not touching the water, and he has a look of intense concentration on his face. Visible through the water above his head and on the right side of the image is the dark rock wall behind the waterfall. 

CAPTION:

Taking the plunge. 

CREDIT:

Unclaimed Baggage Center

IMAGE 6 of 11: Canoe paddle

DESCRIPTION:

The next picture to the right is of a wooden canoe paddle. The handle of the paddle is tan in color and is toward the top of the page. The shaft of the paddle is a wooden brown color, and the blade of the paddle is tan in color.

CAPTION:

Canoe paddle.

CREDIT:

NPS

IMAGE 7 of 11: Razor edges

DESCRIPTION:

The next picture to the right is of a man rock climbing on a high, vertical rock wall in early winter. He’s wearing a yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, dark gray rock-climbing shoes, and a dark gray harness around his waist and both upper thighs. Attached to the harness is a dark gray climbing chalk bag, and a rope is attached to the front of the harness and leads down below him and out of the picture. The rock wall is yellow and gray in color, with narrow ledges and numerous cracks. There is a large rock overhang above him, and the rock wall runs a long distance away from the climber. Below him is the slope of the canyon side, with deciduous trees bare of leaves. His body is pressed to the canyon wall as he is pulling himself up. His left hand is white with climbing chalk and is gripping a narrow rock out to his left side; his left foot is firmly planted on a thin rock ledge at waist height to the rest of his body, far to his left, his leg at a 90-degree angle; and his right leg is straight below him and the foot is suspended in midair.

CAPTION:

Pulling on razor edges. 

CREDIT:

Cody Averbeck

IMAGE 8 of 11: Quickdraw

DESCRIPTION:

The next picture to the right is a piece of mountain climbing equipment called a quickdraw. It is two D-shaped metal ring clips connected together by a length of material. The straight part of each ring is a shiny silver color, and the curved parts of each ring are a bright metallic orange in color. The strap connecting them is short, with a white strip running the length of the strap, with a series of 12 narrow gray strips crossing the length of the white stripe. Along the edges of the strap on both sides of the white strip is a pattern of squares alternating a brownish-orange and light gray in color.

CAPTION:

Quickdraw for bolts. 

CREDIT:

NPS

IMAGE 9 of 11: Horseback riding

DESCRIPTION:

The next picture to the right is of two people, each riding a horse away down a trail, with the head of a third horse visible at the bottom. The riders are facing away from the picture, which is taken from the perspective of a person riding the third horse at the bottom of the picture. The rider on the left is a man wearing a T-shirt with a large yellow, circle-shaped design on the back, blue jeans, and a straw-colored cowboy hat. His right hand is on the reins; his left hand is hanging down by his side. His right foot is visible in the stirrup, and he’s looking down at the trail ahead of him just beyond his horse's head. His horse is a chocolate brown in color, with a black mane and tail. The rider on the right is a woman with shoulder-length brown hair, wearing a pink T-shirt, blue jeans, and a straw-colored cowboy hat. Both her hands appear to be holding the reins, and her feet are in the stirrups. She’s looking away down the trail. Her horse is chestnut brown with a dark brown tail and a thin dark brown strap leading from the tail to the saddle. The horse's head at the bottom of the picture is a tan color with a dark brown mane and light brown-colored harness. The trail they are riding on is a light brown dirt trail wide enough for three horses to ride side-by-side, with a dense green forest along the side of the trail.

CAPTION:

Horse riding. 

CREDIT:

Kathy Zimmerman

IMAGE 10 of 11: Nodding ladies’ tresses

DESCRIPTION:

The next picture to the right is of a flower called Nodding ladies’ tresses. The flower is tall and slender, with a green stem rising straight up the middle, and thin white, tube-shaped flowers alternating down both sides. The end of each bloom opens with four flared petals gently opening away from the tube-shaped body of the base of the flower.

CAPTION:

Nodding ladies’ tresses.

CREDIT:

Eric Hunt

IMAGE 11 of 11: Azaleas

DESCRIPTION:

The next picture to the right is the last picture in this series. The scene is of Lost Falls at DeSoto State Park, which shares a border with Little River Canyon National Preserve. The waterfall is short but wide and is gently spilling over a rock ledge in springtime, the rock-strewn river flowing softly down toward the bottom and right of the picture. The river has tall, thin trees with bright green leaves on either side, and the bottom left of the picture prominently shows an azalea in bloom, its long, spindly branches tipped with bright pink flowers and the bright green of new springtime growth.

CAPTION:

Azaleas bloom along Lost Falls at DeSoto State Park. 

CREDIT:

Lookout Mountain Photography

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IMAGE and QUOTE: The River

DESCRIPTION:

A large picture of Little River Canyon fills this portion of the page from edge to edge. The picture is taken at dusk in midsummer. The sky is light with the recently set sun on the right side, with colors of yellow on the horizon, which fades from left to right across the image from pink to light purple in the middle, and fades to a medium purple across to the left side. It is taken from a ledge of exposed sandstone at one of the canyons many overlooks; the predominant rock of the rim can be seen wrapping around the upper right side of the canyon, and a small trace is apparent on the left side of the canyon. The canyon rim is capped with green grasses, trees, and shrubs on both sides. Below the rim, the canyon is gradually bending to the left, filled with lush green trees. At the bottom of the canyon, portions of the river are visible, the water reflecting the light of dusk and large boulders lining the river. Above the river and just below the rim, a cloud hugs the left side of the canyon, with wisps of cloud reaching through the trees above the rim on the left. 

CAPTION:

Morning mist fills the canyon.  Note: This caption is erroneous, the picture was taken in the evening, not the morning, and will be corrected in the next update to the park brochure.

CREDIT: 

Lookout Mountain Photography

QUOTE:

The river is the center of the land,

the place where the waters,

AND MUCH MORE, come together.

Here is the home of wildlife,

the route of explorers,

and recreation paradise.

- Tim Palmer, Lifelines

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TEXT: The River Flows

The river flows. Day after day, it carves and chisels the sandstone canyon as it has for millions of years. It is constant, persistent, but changeable, like the seasons. At times rushing, pounding, and crashing, its power is dangerous and undeniable. At other times, it meanders lazily from the top of Lookout Mountain to Weiss Lake.

Little River Canyon National Preserve is a special place to find inspiration, connect with family and friends, and discover the amazing natural world of forests, river and streams, a bountiful backcountry, and an incredible diversity of wildlife. Listen for the rush of the river, the wind whistling through the canyon, and the trill of birds in the forest canopy. Feel the spray of a waterfall or the misty morning fog. Stop at an overlook, hike a trail, climb, kayak, or soak your feet at the river’s edge. Explore this place where the river flows, connect with an ancient land, and perhaps, discover something new about yourself. 

Little River is like no other; for most of its length it flows atop Lookout Mountain. One of the wildest and cleanest rivers in the southeastern US, it courses through the rugged terrain of the Cumberland Plateau, the most southern extension of the Appalachian Plateau. This is one of the deepest and most extensive canyon and gorge systems in the eastern United States, at times measuring 500 feet from the edge of the cliffs to the river bottom. A visit here is like stepping back in time. Look closely for fossils, evidence the bottom of the canyon was once the floor of a shallow sea during the Paleozoic Era (541–242 million years ago). The sandstone cliffs and canyon walls, part of the Pottsville Formation (320–286 mya) consist of sandstone and conglomerate shale, siltstone, and coal.

In 1992, the canyon and surrounding areas became part of the National Park Service. The Preserve protects 15,288 acres of land and many rare, threatened, and endangered species. Year-round beauty and recreation are hallmarks of Little River Canyon. Each season transforms the canyon landscape. Early spring-green leaves, red bud, and dogwood blooms give way to thick, green summer canopies and patches of wild flowers. As temperatures cool in the fall, the hardwood forest burst with a palette of red, orange, yellow, and gold. The stark beauty of winter reveals intertwining branches, hidden nests in the forest, and prisms of icicles that form near waterfalls and along canyon walls. No matter the time of year, Little River Canyon has something for everyone. What is your favorite season in the Preserve?

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COLLAGE and TEXT: Nature's Sanctuary

IMAGE 1 of 17: Black bear

DESCRIPTION:

A black bear is lying on a moss-covered log with its head on the left side. The bear is mostly black but with a brown muzzle below his eyes and a black nose. His front paws are together, with long claws visible. His back right leg is hung over the log. The bear is looking slightly to the left, and his little rounds ears are perked up. The log is light-gray and mottled dark gray, with bright green moss on the top and upper half. The sunlight is muted, as if on an overcast day or beneath a thick canopy of trees, and is lighting up the bear from the left.

CAPTION:

Black bear

CREDIT:

Steve Kaslowski

IMAGE 2 of 17: Pitcher plant

DESCRIPTION: A picture of green pitcher plants. There are 13 of the plants, which are upright and tube-shaped, with a wide-open oval-shaped mouth with a solid lip, and hood attached at the back of the mouth and flaring above and over the open mouth. The pitchers are bright green with bright red veins running vertically up them to the lip of the mouth and along the hood, like veins leading down an arm and into a hand. The sun is shining brightly from above, and the hoods of the pitcher plants are shading the rest of the pitcher.

CAPTION:

Green pitcher plant. 

CREDIT:

Dr. Brad Wilson

IMAGE 3 of 17: Salamander

DESCRIPTION:

A picture of a green salamander, which has shiny skin which is mostly a vibrant, bright mossy green mottled with black. It is standing with the majority of its body facing the right, its tail looping around in a wide half-circle. Its head is turned to the left, with one dark eye facing the viewer and the skin of the green protruding eye socket facing back toward the base of its tail. Its front right leg, with three long, round, black toes, is visible right below its neck, with the front left leg sticking out to its left side. Both back legs are visible to each side of the body at the base of the tail.

CAPTION:

Green salamander.

CREDIT:

Todd W. Peirson

IMAGE 4 of 17: Kingfisher

DESCRIPTION:

A picture of a single bird sitting atop the end of a leafless branch, the Belted kingfisher. Facing to the right, the kingfisher displays a head that seems too large for its body, featuring a long, sharp beak, a bright white neck and chin, and dark gray feathers from the neck up, which stick up and look pointy on top of its head. Below the neck, the top of the wings are dark gray, with a like-colored band that wraps below the throat at the top of its chest. Below that on the chest is a white band, with a rusty red band below that and above the legs, with the rest of the underside to the tail a pure white. The tail is dark gray and horizontally striped.

CAPTION:

Belted kingfisher. 

CREDIT:

Ken Schmidt

IMAGE 5 of 17: Nuthatch

DESCRIPTION:

A white-breasted nuthatch sits on a branch. The nuthatch is standing on the branch facing the right, leaning far forward with its tail up in the air and its breast down low, with its head looking straight out to the right. It has a long, pointy beak which is light gray in color, as are the feathers around its entire head to its neck and down its chest. The top of its head, beginning at his beak and leading into its entire back and the visible upper wings, is a medium gray, with a black bar across the back of the neck. The wings are held close to the body, the feathers of which are mostly gray with white and black highlights. The visible underside of the nuthatch at the back of the legs is a rusty orange color.

CAPTION:

White-breasted nuthatch.

CREDIT:

Gord Sawyer

IMAGE 6 of 17: Warbler

DESCRIPTION:

A yellow-rumped warbler is sitting on the branch, facing left with its back and side of its head prominently displayed. The warbler’s feathers are mostly gray and black, with a bright yellow spot at the base of its tail. Its head is gray and black on top with a slight hint of yellow, with a black mask over its eyes and a pure white chin below.

CAPTION:

Yellow-rumped warbler

CREDIT:

Steve Shelasky

IMAGE 7 of 17: Indigo bunting

DESCRIPTION:

An Indigo bunting sitting on a branch, with the bird facing the left with its beak partially open. The bunting is almost entirely blue, with dark blue feathers toward the end of its wings and tail.

CAPTION:

Indigo bunting.

CREDIT:

Bryan Hix

IMAGE 8 of 17: Azalea 

DESCRIPTION:

A branch of an Azalea in full spring bloom. The branch goes from right to left, with the entirety of the branch hidden by flowers. The flowers have five petals, which are light pink with a reddish-pink throat. Long pistils and stamen come out of the throat of each flower, light pink with yellow tips. At the end of the branch, on the left of the image, are five bright green spring leaves.

CAPTION:

Azalea

CREDIT:

Mark Chandler

IMAGE 9 of 17: Nuttall’s rayless goldenrod

DESCRIPTION:

A picture of Nuttall’s rayless goldenrod, a flower which displays a spray of small, narrow yellow flowers at the tips of numerous spreading, bright green, leafless stems.

CAPTION:

Nuttall’s rayless goldenrod

CREDIT:

Jeff Mcmillan

IMAGE 10 of 17: Bluets

DESCRIPTION:

A patch of about fifty small flowers with four petals each. The petals are a light purple with a light yellow throat.

CAPTION:

Bluets

CREDIT:

Tom Hoeflich

IMAGE 11 of 17: Bloodroot 

DESCRIPTION:

A flower with ten long, slender white petals attached to a yellow center, with broad, five-lobed dark green leaves behind and beneath them.

CAPTION:

Bloodroot.

CREDIT:

Matt Echler

IMAGE 12 of 17: Round-leaved violet

DESCRIPTION:

A round-leaved violet flower, which has cheery yellow flowers with five petals on top of a tall slender stalk. The petals are arranged with two petals side-by-side on top, one petal on each side angled down, and a single bottom petal with a dark throat. Below the flowers are heart-shaped leaves which are mottled dark and light green and are shiny.

CAPTION:

Round-leaved violet.

CREDIT:

Stan Lockwood

IMAGE 13 of 17: Joe-pye weed

DESCRIPTION:

A tall, gray-pink flower stalk with two sets of three light green, upwardly curved strap-shaped leaves evenly spaced below the flowers. The flowers at the top sit in clusters of small, pink flowers at the end of multiple small stalks.

CAPTION:

Joe-pye weed

CREDIT:

David G. Smith

IMAGE 14 of 17: Cucumber magnolia

DESCRIPTION: 

A Cucumber magnolia. The picture displays the large, long, pale green oval leaves which are generally flat and arrayed in a circular pattern around the end of the branch. Above the leaves is a developing seed pod, a round, oblong series of soft green scale-like segments.

CAPTION:

Cucumber magnolia

CREDIT:

Bisse Bowman

IMAGE 15 of 17: Seedpod

DESCRIPTION:

The Cucumber magnolia seed pod at maturity is red in color, and the scale-like segments have points at the top. Smooth, pink seeds have developed from between the segments and attach to the seed pod until germination.

CAPTION:

Seedpod

CREDIT:

Mark Steinmetz

IMAGE 16 of 17: White-tailed fawn 

DESCRIPTION:

A young deer lying on its left side with its head upright, legs splayed out to its right side. The young fawn is overall a light brown color, with white along its underside and under the legs. The back of the deer is a darker brown, with rows of white spots leading from the neck all of the way to the lower back. Its large ears are held slightly back, its wide dark eyes looking forward above a black nose and white chin.

CAPTION:

White-tailed fawn 

CREDIT:

Vicki Gibson

IMAGE 17 of 17: Long-eared bat

DESCRIPTION:

A bat in flight, flying from right to left toward the viewer. The bat is a grayish-brown, with its wings outstretched to the sides and below the body while flapping. The bat’s mouth is slightly open and its ears come to sharp points above and just behind the eyes.

CAPTION:

Long-eared bat

CREDIT:

Michael Durham

RELATED TEXT:

Have you ever lived in a forest, river, or deep canyon? The thick stands of hardwood and pine forests and clean water provide shelter to the thousands of plants, animals, birds, and fish that live here. Little River Canyon National Preserve is their home. Ferns, grasses, moss, and wildflowers are abundant, as are rare, threatened, and endangered species like the green pitcher plant, Harperella, and Kral’s water plantain, a rare aquatic herb found in this river ecosystem. The blue shiner, a threatened species of fish, is found here, along with a variety of shiners, sunfish, bass, perch, catfish, and darters.

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OVERVIEW: Back Side of Brochure

The back side of the brochure is dominated by a shaded relief map of Little River Canyon National Preserve and the surrounding roads and communities. Overall, the page is a light tan in color, with the park boundary designated by a thin, dark green line, and the park land inside that boundary filled in with a light green color. There is a dark gray shaded bar at the top of the page with tan text reading “Recreation Paradise.” The dark gray shaded bar fades into the tan color of the page below it. At the bottom of the page is a narrow, solid black bar. The upper third of the page contains text, with section titles printed in a green text and the body of the text printed in black, relaying information on basic services, activities, and safety within the park. At the bottom right of the page is additional text about the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, the Little River Canyon Center, and how to get more information on the park. The headings are printed in green, with the body of the text printed in black. Above this text is the symbol for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, which consists of an outer triangle with rounded sides made of a thin black line, with a smaller rounded triangle in the middle; the bottom half is light blue in color, the upper half is a light green-gray, and there is a silhouette of a Native American standing, arms clasped around the midsection, as if bracing against a bitter cold wind in the middle. The area between the boundary line and the inner triangle is tan in color, with the words in black text “Trail of Tears” along the upper portion, and the words in black text “National Historic Trail.” At the bottom right of the page is an inset map of the Little River Canyon Center and Little River Falls area, with a map key, compass, and distance scale to the immediate left. The page also has three images in the upper right corner, which are, from left-to-right a milksnake, DeSoto Falls at neighboring DeSoto State Park, and a Copperhead. On the mid-right side of the page is a picture of Little River Falls. At the bottom left corner is a picture of an Eastern pondhawk dragonfly, and halfway up the page, above that, is a picture of Graces High Falls.

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TEXT: Recreation Paradise

Looking for a scenic drive? Want to enjoy a picnic or a short stroll to Little River Falls? This is the place to do that and more. Some consider Little River Canyon a sports enthusiast’s paradise—sheer cliffs and world-class whitewater beckon those looking for the extreme. The canyon is not for beginning kayakers or rock climbers. Experience is a necessity when running rapids called Avalanche and Suicide.

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TEXT: Little River Canyon National Preserve

Little River Canyon National Preserve is a day-use area only; no camping in the park.

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TEXT: Cell Phones

 Please be aware that many places in the park have no cell reception.

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TEXT: Canyon Rim Scenic Drive

Follow AL 176 along this 11-mile drive, and enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the stops. There are no fees to tour the Scenic Drive or Little River Falls. Canyon Mouth Park Area has a day-use fee of $15 per vehicle daily (cash only) or $35 annual pass (available for purchase at the Canyon Center).

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TEXT: Backcountry Area

Located upstream from the canyon and Little River Falls, this area offers 23 miles of numbered dirt/chert roads for horseback riding, bicycles, and hikers. Pack out all trash. 

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TEXT: Bicycling

The scenic drive along AL 176 is a narrow, two-lane road with no shoulder or bike lanes. We do NOT recommend bikes on this road. Biking is allowed in the backcountry on designated dirt /chert roads.

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TEXT: Always Use Caution

Be smart. Be safe. Always use caution around water. Thousands of people enjoy water activities at the park each year, and each year we have near misses, injuries, and even deaths due to carelessness. 

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TEXT: Fishing

Fishing is allowed anywhere along Little River inside the park if you have a valid Alabama or non-resident fishing license. Children under 16 and adults over 65 are exempt from a fishing license. Fishing with nets is prohibited. Canyon Mouth Picnic Area is the perfect place. 

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TEXT: Wading

Watch children closely; never leave them alone. Wade only during low water conditions. Avoid “whitewater” areas. If you can’t swim, do not go into water over your head. Never wade alone.

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TEXT: Canoeing or Kayaking

The canyon’s waters are for expert level only (Class III+ to IV, spring runoff V). Come prepared with all your equipment and your own transportation. Never canoe or kayak alone. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Have the skill to manage and know the difficulty of the rapids you are attempting to navigate. The rapids at the park are for experts only. Always wear safety gear. Backcountry paddling is class I and II. 

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TEXT: Rock Climbing

Climbing here is for experienced climbers only. Less than one percent of the climbing routes are 5.10 or easier. Come prepared with your own equipment and transportation. You can climb from any of the cliffs. You cannot add or remove any bolts or have any equipment with you that would allow you to do so.

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TEXT: As a National Preserve

As a National Preserve, hunting and trapping are permitted in the backcountry at designated times. Call or check the park website for firearms regulations and additional information. 

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TEXT: Wildlife Safety

Animals are wild and should be viewed from a distance; never approach wild animals. Black bears, deer, squirrels, rabbits, bats, snakes, bobcats, and many species of birds inhabit the park. Never feed a wild animal, no matter how “cute” it may be. If you see a snake, keep your distance. Snakes will strike if they feel threatened in any way.

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TEXT: Pet Safety

Pets must always be on a leash. Never leave your pet unattended. Please be responsible and dispose of pet waste in a trash receptacle or take it with you. Never leave your pet in a hot car. Always provide your pet plenty of water.

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TEXT: Waste Disposal

Always dispose of waste properly in park-provided trash cans. Failure to obey regulations could result in a fine of up to $5,000.00 and/or impoundment of your property.

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TEXT: Desoto State Park

Located within the our boundaries but operated independently, DeSoto State Park offers a motel, cabins, chalets, and a campground. The state park is on the north end of the backcountry area near Mentone, Alabama, about 10 miles from Little River Falls. For more information call the state park at 256-845-0051.

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IMAGE: Desoto Falls

DESCRIPTION:

A rectangular picture of DeSoto Falls at DeSoto State Park in spring. The white water of Little River flows from the top middle of the picture, cascading over two smaller falls before dropping off a high, gray, rocky cliff, splashing down in white turbulence and mist into a large, blue-gray pool of water below. On either side of the river and waterfall are gray, craggy, layered rocks, with lush green trees on either side. Framing the pool below, at the bottom of the picture, are the branches and tops of dark green pine trees and bright green deciduous trees.

CAPTION:

DeSoto Falls at DeSoto State Park.

CREDIT: 

Lori Walden

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IMAGE: Eastern Milksnake

DESCRIPTION:

A non-venomous Eastern milksnake superimposed over the map. The snake faces to the right and its body from the head to the mid-section forms a tight S-shape; from the mid-section back, its body forms a bigger, loose S-shape, with the tail coming back over its body and pointing toward the bottom of the picture. The snake is white in color overall, with over 30 red-oval patterns with a thin border of black set perpendicular to the spine that runs evenly spaced from the head down to the tail, where the ovals become stripes as the body narrows to the tip of the tail. Below and between these oval patterns, right above the underside of the snake, are intermittent and irregularly patterned black spots, some with a tinge of red in the middle. The snake’s oval-shaped head, which has a single black and red band of color running from the neck, and over the eyes like a thin mask, faces toward the right of the viewer. Its eyes are black and beady, and its nose and mouth are white with razor-thin black lines.

CAPTION:

Eastern milksnake.

CREDIT:

Mike Graziano

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IMAGE: Copperhead

DESCRIPTION:

A venomous Copperhead snake superimposed over the map. The snake faces to the left, with the front half of its body in a tight S-shape and the back half of the body in a loose S-shape shifted toward the top of the page. The snake is an overall copper color, with V-shaped tan patterns with a reddish-copper colored border running perpendicular to its body from the spine down to the underside, evenly spaced down the length of the body, from just behind the head to the tail. Its head is pointed and sharply angular, with a broad, flat head and yellow-copper colored eyes with a prominent black vertical pupil, much like a cat’s eyes. Its head is slightly raised as if in a defensive stance, ready to bite something perceived as a threat.

CAPTION:

Copperhead

CREDIT:

Tom Spinker

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TEXT: Little River Canyon Center

Park visitors are welcome daily at the Little River Canyon Center in Fort Payne, Alabama. This award-winning building is a Jacksonville State University public facility with programs, events, a gift shop, classrooms, a movie theater, NPS offices, and an information desk. For more information please visit www.canyoncenter.org.

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IMAGE: Grace High Falls

DESCRIPTION:

A vertical oval-shaped picture of a waterfall called Graces High Falls. The edges of the picture fade out to the tan of the page background. The waterfall, which is dependent on heavy winter and spring rains to run, is a high and steady flow, blasting off of the cliff edge and feathering out to each side slightly as it descends to a pool below. Visible to either side and behind the waterfall is the imposing dark gray rocks that make up the cliff's side. The image is framed with the fresh green growth of high deciduous trees in spring. 

CAPTION:

Grace High Falls. 

CREDIT: 

Keith Boseman

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IMAGE: Eastern Pondhawk

DESCRIPTION:

A picture of an Eastern pondhawk dragonfly and its shadow, which falls up and to the left of the pondhawk, superimposed over the map. Its body, which faces toward the center of the page, is club-shaped, the wide point being at the top of its abdomen, and tapering to a point at the tail. The body is bright green overall, with thin black lines detailing the edges of each individual part of the exoskeleton, especially around where the wings attach to the upper portion of the abdomen and along the base of the tail segments. The tail becomes more predominantly black as it gets closer to the tip, with U-shaped patterns of green on the three tail segments closest to the abdomen, each the tiniest bit shorter than the previous one. The forth tail segment has a single green spot on it, and the final segments are pure black, with a light gray tip at the end of the tail. The head, which is green overall, is oval-shaped and a bulge at the front hints at where the mouth is. Two large eyes are on either side of the head, the same color of green as the rest of the head and body. The two pairs of wings, one pair in front of the other, extend out perpendicular to the body from the top of the front of the abdomen, and are clear like glass, with the thinnest black border demarking each individual cell of the wing. Each wing has a single dark gray-colored cell toward the front edge furthest from the body. The front pair of wings are straight with a rounded tip, not unlike the shape of an extended finger, and have a slightly forward lean, with the tips extending slightly beyond the head. The back pair of wings, immediately behind the front pair, stick straight out to the sides and are more tapered, like a long narrowing triangle with a rounded end. The wingspan is about equal to the length of the body from head to tail. Three of the six legs are visible through the clear wings, suggesting the pondhawk was basking on a rock in the sun, patiently awaiting its next meal. 

CAPTION:

Eastern pondhawk.

CREDIT: 

Walter Sanford

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MAP: Little River Canyon

DESCRIPTION:

This detailed shaded relief park map shows major roads, trails, and visitor services located within the park, as well as major state and county roads and local communities outside of the park. The shaded relief displays the terrain of the area, as if the sun were shining from the west. The map is oriented with north pointing straight toward the top of the page, with a compass at the bottom of the page orienting the reader. Little River Canyon National Preserve sits atop Lookout Mountain, a 75-mile long mountain with a northeast/southwest orientation running from Tennessee through Georgia and ending in Alabama. The majority of the map is tan in color, indicating land outside Little River Canyon National Preserve. The park boundary is marked by a thin, dark green line, with the park's lands shaded in a light green color. The preserve sits atop Lookout Mountain and is a highly irregular shape hugging both sides of Little River Canyon in the southwest, and spreading out more in the rolling hills along Little River above the canyon, with DeSoto State Park attached at the very top left of the park. Paved roads are marked as brown solid lines, with the park’s main road, Canyon Rim Drive, highlighted as a yellow line with a thin black border. Distance indicators are noted along Canyon Rim Drive, with the distance written in both miles and kilometers between the indicators. The park's only visitor contact station lies in the center of the map and the park, with a black-bordered and raised rectangle denoting an enlarged map at the bottom of the page of the Little River Canyon Center and the Little River Falls area. The map legend is located at the bottom center of the page and delineates overlook pullouts, unpaved roads, and hiking trails. It also depicts amenities such as equestrian trailheads, campgrounds, wading areas, restrooms, lodging, food services, picnic areas, parking, and hiking trailheads. The majority of amenities are located around the Little River Canyon Center in the middle, DeSoto State Park at the north end of the park, and Canyon Mouth at the south end of the park. The map denotes the river, creeks, and ponds in light blue, with Little River running at the heart of the park through its length from DeSoto State Park in the north, to Canyon Mouth, at the south end of the park. Waterfalls are marked with three dark blue lines perpendicular to the river, with blue text indicating the name of the waterfall. 

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IMAGE: Little River Falls

DESCRIPTION:

On the right side of the page about mid-way down is a horizontal oval-shaped picture of Little River Falls. The river flows along the sandstone riverbed from the upper right and drops over the rock ledge in two separate waterfall segments, falling 35 feet to a pool below, with large water-wet boulders below at the base of the falls. Surrounding the pool and the waterfall are tan solid rock walls, and the rock directly behind the waterfalls is a dark gray, discolored by the continuous flow of water. 

CAPTION:

Little River Falls. 

CREDIT: 

Lori Walden

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MAP: Little River Canyon Center

DESCRIPTION:

The inset map for the Little River Canyon Center area is located at the bottom right of the page, and displays in more detail the area around the Center. An icon representing the Little River Canyon Center, with a green text box with white text reading “Little River Canyon Center," lies just outside the park boundary in the upper right-hand corner of the inset map, with a dashed line representing the Bridge Trail leading from the building, under the highway, and across the highway bridge to the Little River Falls parking lot and waterfall observation deck spur trail, and then continuing south out of the inset map. The river is shown in light blue with a thin, dark blue line on either side. Little River Falls is marked by five blue waved lines running parallel to the course of the river. Highway 35 and the Little River Canyon Center entrance road are marked as brown lines, with the Little River Canyon Rim Parkway displayed in yellow with a thin black line border. 

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TEXT: Accessibility

We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For more information go to the canyon center, ask a ranger, call, or check our website.

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TEXT: More Information

Little River National Preserve is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities, visit www.nps.gov.

ADDRESS: 

4322 Little River Trail NE, Suite 100, Fort Payne, AL 35967

PHONE:
256-845-9605

WEBSITE:

www.nps.gov/liri

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