Tips for Visiting Dismals Canyon in Alabama

November 5, 2019

Travel, Travel Guides

Dismals Canyon is a gorgeous canyon in Phil Campbell, Alabama. It’s the perfect place to hike and experience some beautiful natural scenery. If you want to unplug, this is the place for you (because there’s barely any WiFi or signal anywhere).

My friends and I visited Dismals Canyon as a fun girls’ day, and we had a great time! Everything is so lush and green. We wanted a place to hike that was not too difficult and that was also pretty and picturesque. This was a great choice for those things.

rainbow falls waterfall and green mossy rocks at dismals canyon alabama

But there are a few things you need to know before you go. Here are my best tips for visiting Dismals Canyon!

When to Visit

We visited in the fall, specifically mid-October, so the weather was perfect. If I’m going to be doing outdoor activities, I don’t want to be hot and sweaty if I can help it. Dismals Canyon closes for the winter after November.

girl wearing backpack crossing stepping stones across river with trees at dismals canyon alabama

I recommend getting to Dismals Canyon as early as you can since they open at 9 or 10 am. However, we arrived after lunch at about 1 pm and still had plenty of time to walk the whole trail. The canyon is open for more hours on Saturdays. Before you plan a trip, I strongly suggest you check the current hours of operation on their website here.

Food Options

Speaking of lunch, Dismals has a soda fountain in the same building where you can buy tickets. It was closed the day I visited, so once again, I suggest you check the hours before you go. We chose Wednesday to visit Dismals to avoid high crowds, and it worked pretty well. Just be aware that more options for food will be available on a weekend.

We ate lunch in Tuscumbia, Alabama, which was on our way. Local and unique restaurants are always my preference when traveling, so we chose the Claunch Café for our lunch.

Claunch cafe sign for restaurant in tuscumbia alabama

The building itself is nothing special, but the food was very good! I wasn’t very adventurous and got a chicken tenders plate, but it did not disappoint!

3 chicken tenders and french fries on white plate on wooden table at claunch cafe in tuscumbia alabama

Claunch Café is known for its desserts. I had to try the brownie delight (half portion), which is a delicious brownie with vanilla ice cream covered in whip cream, chocolate syrup, and nuts (I asked for no nuts on mine).

brownie delight vanilla ice cream dessert with chocolate syrup and whip cream in white bowl on wooden table at claunch cafe in tuscumbia alabama

My friend, Brittney, got the peanut butter pie which also looked delicious!

peanut butter pie with chocolate syrup and whip cream on white plate on wooden table at claunch cafe in tuscumbia alabama

The Claunch Café is definitely somewhere I would go again.

The Canyon

tall rock wall and trees at sunset at dismals canyon alabama

Soon we were on our way to the beautiful canyon. Our admission for the self-guided day tour was $12 each (adult ticket), but they have different prices depending on your age. They also have packages for night tours, groups, and a few other options. Check out their current prices here.

Dismals Canyon has a few waterfalls and creeks. The first waterfall you come across is Rainbow Falls.

rainbow falls sign on tree with waterfall at dismals canyon alabama

Later on, you can see Secret Falls. This one is not as easy to spot, but you can hear the water rushing from a pretty good distance away.

Secret falls waterfall and log and mossy green rocks and trees at dismals canyon alabama

There are also plenty of caves and narrow passages to walk through.

narrow walkway with tree and mossy green walls with light shining through darkness at Dismals Canyon in alabama

dark cave entrance with green trees outside at dismals canyon alabama

girl in blue shirt and pants with brown leather backpack crossing bridge and entering cave at dismals canyon alabama

I was very impressed with the huge boulders all around.

large boulder and trees covered in moss at dismals canyon alabama

Overall, Dismals Canyon was such a gorgeous place to hike. Every time we turned a corner, there was another beautiful sight to see.


Since we had 3 photographers in our group, we took about a billion pictures. Well, not quite that many, but we did take a lot longer on the trail because we kept stopping at every pretty scene to take photos. This is definitely a beautiful place to do a photoshoot!

sunset at dismals canyon alabama with large mossy rocks and green trees

If you’re going to take pictures at Dismals Canyon, be aware that it’s pretty dark, even in the middle of the day. I had to crank my ISO up on my camera pretty high for most of my images since the sun is blocked by the trees and canyon walls. However, towards the end of our hike we found some gorgeous golden hour light.

girl wearing backpack walking through the woods with golden hour light at sunset, surrounded by green trees at dismals canyon alabama

Night Activities

Dismals Canyon offers options for camping, and they even have some cabins for overnight stays. I only took a day trip, so I don’t know much about the accommodations.

There is another cool thing to try at Dismals that only happens at night. I didn’t get to try this, but they have night tours so that you can get a good look at the glow worms called “Dismalites.” These amazing little creatures glow blue-green at night, and the peak times to see them are April-May and September-October. I wish I could’ve seen them!

If you are looking for a fairly easy hike in Alabama, Dismals Canyon is an excellent choice. It’s a great place to see so much natural beauty, and I’d love to go back someday.

jungle mossy rocks and trees with shadowy light at dismals canyon in alabama

Have you ever been to Dismals Canyon? If not, where is your favorite place to hike?

Tips for Visiting Dismals Canyon in Alabama


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