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Lookout Mountain is a large land formation running from Chattanooga southwest through northern Alabama. On top of Lookout Mountain runs the Little River, and part of its course proceeds through a canyon. Little River Canyon National Preserve protects the canyon and the river that runs through it.

The canyon is preserved largely in its natural state, but the park service does maintain a road that runs along the rim of the canyon. The road has several stop-offs that afford visitors views of the canyon and the river. The best way to explore the park is through the drive. Visitors can start at the visitors’ center and then proceed to the first stop, and the most developed one, a boardwalk that takes visitors to the base of a wide and fast-flowing waterfall. The falls are beautiful to take in, but follow directions and don’t get in the water-when we arrived, we were unable to see the falls at first because authorities were rescuing someone from the water.


After the first viewpoint, proceed along the drive and check out the differing views of the canyon. Each stop is unique, some better than others, but all of them showcase the canyon. The river runs several hundred feet below, with large bluffs above and trees covering the slopes as they ascend. The road winds along this canyon with the views getting better the farther one drives. At one of the last stops along the road, visitors can hike just over a mile down to the base of the canyon, getting a different perspective than the bird’s eye view gotten from above.


Little River Canyon preserves a wild and scenic portion of Lookout Mountain where the Little River courses through a beautiful and rugged canyon. Visitors can experience the park in a couple hours to longer visits that include hiking excursions in and around the canyon. Regardless of how you choose to spend your time, Little River Canyon is well worth exploring.