H: Thursday, April 10, 2008

Things Rhododendron and Little River Canyon

Little River Canyon National Park…An Unsung Mountaintop Spectacular

by Joel Hendon

Lookout Mountain extends from the Chattanooga, Tennessee area southwestward across the extreme northwestern corner of Georgia and on to Gadsden, Alabama where it terminates in the northeastern edge of that Etowah County seat. Natural scenic areas are commonplace the full length of the mountain and it has many developed sites. The Chattanooga area abounds with beauty, fantastic scenery, and activities.

But one of Lookouts most unique attractions is the mountaintop river that follows the mountain. Little River comes from the Alabama Desoto State Park area which is an exceedingly scenic area itself but it descends into the canyon, still atop the mountain beginning at the Little River Canyon National Preserve near Fort Payne, Alabama.

At the start of this canyon is the Little River Falls Park, just off of Alabama Highway 35. There is a canyon rim parkway, Alabama Highway 176 for 23 miles to a point where the river leaves the mountain. There is a Little River Canyon Mouth park at this lower end. The uniqueness of this canyon is the fact that it may be one-fourth to one-third the depth of the mountain itself in some areas. It also is an amazing 23 miles of scenic beauty, especially in the Spring and Fall. April and May brings a brilliant array of early leaf growth in varying shades of green due to the variety of trees and brush. And accentuate this with a dazzling scattering of wild Azaleas, wild Rhododendrons, Dogwood blossoms, Redbud blossoms, and more.

There are several overlooks along this canyon rim parkway where one may get a magnificent view of the river below and see canoes and kayaks winding their way through the rocks and rapids on the river. Some of the sports enthusiasts can barely be seen resting on the flat rocks. The river is perfect for this type of sport since it is not extemely hazardous yet has enough white water to thrill the participants. This is actually an outstanding vacation spot for all ages. The drive down the winding scenic parkway is enough for old codgers such as this author, and there is ample entertainment for tiny folk at the canyon mouth park area where wading and beach fun are available. But for young adults in good health, there is an abundance of outdoor activities. The water sports mentioned for one, and away from the canyon area is a Backcountry Area. Here is a paragraph from the governments page concerning this area:

Backcountry Area

This area is for horseback riders, ATV riders, hikers, 4-wheel drive vehicles and primitive camping. Camping is limited to three sites. Hunting is allowed on designated dates, times and places. A permit is required for ATV drivers. The permit is free and is available at the Superintendent's office in Fort Payne (Mon-Fri 8-4:30, Saturday 10-2). Each ATV driver has to obtain his/her permit in person.

Fall is another outstanding time of year to enjoy the amazing colors of Gods creation when the leaves form an awesome sight of yellows, reds, browns and still some greens, painting the parkway surroundings better than any artists can imagine. The wooded walls of the canyon itself also forms mountains of multi colored splendor. The peak time of this spectacle varies slightly depending upon the weather, but normally occurs around the last week of October or first week of November.

If any readers consider investigating this for a possible vacation spot, I advise that you check the following links for more precise details.

And the government sites FAQ page .

This general area of east central Alabama is unusually scenic which gives more incentive for vacationing here. The Alabama legislature designated a strip of roadway from Fort Payne over Lookout Mountain to the Cheaha State Park atop Cheaha Mountain, the highest peak in the state, and approximately 100 miles in length, as the Appalachian Highlands Scenic Byway. It is well worth anyone's time to drive it, especially during the times mentioned above which offer the most brilliant displays of nature. The routing is Alabama 35 to Alabama 273, right on 273 to Alabama 68, left on 68 to U.S. 411 to Alabama 9, right on 9 to U.S. 78, left on 78 to Alabama 281 (Talladega Scenic Drive), right on 281 to Cheaha State park. This last leg on 281 is exceptionally breathtaking. The Cheaha State Park is perhaps the most thoroughly developed of any park in Alabama, with rental cabins, motel, modern campsites, primitive campsites, lodge rental which accommodates up to 40 guests, hiking trail or modern board walk to Bald Rock, a breathtaking overlook with extensive vision eastward to a hazy horizon. For full details of this park, visit their website:

Author Biography: Joel Hendon was born September 20, 1930 near Gadsden Alabama. He attended public schools in Cherokee County, Alabama and after serving a tour of duty in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, attended Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama majoring in Business Administration. He became a Christian in 1948, and although he followed secular work as a career and retired from Allied Signal Aerospace in 1997, he is an avid student of the Holy Bible and related works as well as biblical history. He produces a bi-weekly publication, The Household of Faith Ezine which is free for the asking. Archives are accessible at: He is also the author of Final Stronghold, published in 2003, available from Amazon.

Originally published on for Joel Hendon Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Article Source: Little River Canyon National Park…An Unsung Mountaintop Spectacular
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