Tucked deep within the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is Dismals Canyon, an 85-acre quiet and unspoiled oasis. Here, visitors experience one of the finest examples of ecological and geological features composing our nation’s natural history.
Designated a National Natural Landmark, Dismals Canyon was originally occupied nearly 10,000 years ago by native tribes as learned from artifacts found scattered among bluff shelters, grottos, and other sanctuaries.
A 1.5 mile hiking trail on the canyon floor follows the stream through boulders, two waterfalls, natural bridges and a rich diversity of native plant life. Points of interest along the trail include Rainbow Falls, Grotto, Weeping Bluff, Temple Cave, Fat Man’s Misery, Champion Tree, Secret Falls, and the tiny creatures called Dismalites.
Above the entrance to the canyon floor is a natural pool that feeds Rainbow Falls. Swimming is permitted during daylight hours.
At night, the canyon lights up with tiny bioluminescent creatures called Dismalites. These "glowworms" require a select habitat to survive and are unique to only a few places on Earth. They are “close cousins” of the rare glowworms found in Australia and New Zealand. Guided night tours allow visitors to see these unique insects.