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franklin county times

The Dismals, a natural national landmark

By Bob Stickley

Just south of Russellville off U.S. 43 on Franklin 8, lies one of nature’s natural beauties.

It’s located so close to Russellville, Phil Campbell and Hackleburg, but yet there are many people in this area who don’t even know of the Dismals Canyons existence or of its natural beauty.

The Dismals was chosen as one of an elite group of sites and events highlighted in the first of its kind National Geographic Map to Appalachia and it was featured in the April 2005 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

The Dismals were selected because of its towering broad leaf trees, which were typical when dinosaurs roamed the earth 100-200 million years ago.

The Canyon sits on 85-acres of land and is surrounded by very high rock formations. Through the heart of the canyon flows a beautiful branch that flows a mile and a half around the canyon floor and enters into the canyon with a roar from Rainbow Waterfall, which drops into the canyon some 160 feet.

As you enter into the canyon floor, you will pass massy green and grey pearl, filled with ferns and giant trees. You can stretch your neck looking for the tops of the trees and there is no telling how old they are.

Summertime finds the Dismals cool and inviting as the temperature on the canyon floor usually runs about 15 degrees below the Alabama average.

The first time I visited several years ago, it was about 95 degrees in mid August, but on the canyon floor it was about 20 degrees cooler with no bugs or mosquitoes to be found.

Early settlers in the area reported that an Indian tribe lived near the canyon and held ceremonial dances on top of the flat rocks.

The canyon has been owned by several different owners, both private and state owned. A visit there is like stepping back in time when the water was clear aside from the necessary clearing of trails on the canyon floor. They are all natural, just as they have been for centuries.

On the canyon grounds are two romantic cabins for rent. They are located on the north end of the conservatory. They both have maximum privacy and include fully furnished amenities.

Everyone who stays there receives a complimentary wine basket. It is a great getaway for honeymooners.

Just three miles south of the Dismals on U.S. 43 is 26 miles of the best canoeing in Alabama at the Bear Creek Canoe Run.

The current hours of the Dismals are Friday from 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning May 31.

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