Little River Canyon National Preserve, Alabama

For spectacular vistas of one of the deepest gorges east of the Mississippi River, visit the 14,000-acre Little River Canyon National Preserve in northeast Alabama.

The best views are from the Little River Canyon Rim Drive, which is actually a 22-mile stretch of the Lookout Mountain Parkway, just east of Fort Payne. The best place to start is at Little River Falls, at the junction of State Highways 35 and 176.

Driving south on Highway 176 puts you right on the canyon's 500- to 600-foot-high west rim, with lots of overlooks where you can enjoy the view.

After you pass Bear Creek Canyon, watch for Grace's High Falls. This is one of the highest waterfalls in Alabama, but it's seasonal, flowing only after a rainy spell.

Be careful during the last few miles of the drive — the road is very steep. The drive ends at Canyon Mouth Park, where the Little River flows out of the canyon.

By the way, the Little River is the only river in North America that runs its full course on a mountain. It originates on the top of Lookout Mountain and ends at its base.

To find out more call the Little River Canyon National Preserve at 1-256-845-9605.

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