Wonder Falls & More: Gadsden, Attalla and Beyond

Explore the stunning scenic splendor of northeastern Alabama with visits to waterfalls in Gadsden and Fort Payne and the federally protected magnificence of Little River Canyon.

Start in Gadsden with a visit to one of the area’s prettiest gems, Noccalula Falls. Torrents of shimmering water take a dramatic plunge into Black Creek Ravine to form this 90-foot-high waterfall. According to local legend, so did a Cherokee princess with the same name. In a tragic end to a Romeo and Juliet-style love story, Noccalula threw herself over the falls rather than forsake her true love by a forced marriage to another. A statue at the edge of the falls illustrates and honors her sacrifice.

From Noccalula Falls, travel to Attalla to visit Untamed Mountain and Tigers for Tomorrow. This exotic animal preserve and environmental learning center is a sanctuary for more than 130 tigers, cougars, bears, lions, wolves and other animals that have been rescued from roadside circuses, owners who tried to keep them as pets and other situations that put these majestic animals at risk. Tigers for Tomorrow is also a sanctuary for injured raptors and birds of prey that are native to Alabama.

Travel north of Gadsden towards Valley Head to discover an abundance of natural wonder awaiting you at DeSoto Falls, right outside of Mentone. The Little River hurls itself over a craggy rock ledge, creating a 104-foot cataract and a thunderous roar. Just down the road, you’ll find several smaller waterfalls in DeSoto State Park. This 3,205-acre outdoor enthusiast’s paradise has cabins, primitive camping sites and 25 miles of hiking and biking trails. Each season is a new revelation; you’ll find the forest ablaze with color in the fall and filled with the blooms of native wildflowers like Catesby’s trillium, mountain laurel and sweet shrub in spring and summer.

Thirteen miles from DeSoto Falls is Little River Falls. It plummets 45 feet and is the glittering showpiece of Little River Canyon. Little River is one of the country’s longest rivers to form and flow on top of a mountain. Over eons, its clear waters have cut through sandstone and carved an extensive canyon and gorge system as they descend.

Continue to Highway 176, also known as Canyon Rim Parkway, and drive 11 miles along the edge of the canyon through the 14,000-acre Little River Canyon National Preserve. Multiple scenic overlooks offer majestic views of the falls as well as sheer rock faces, soaring hawks and the Little River.

For the active traveler, True Adventure Sports, at the end of Canyon Rim Parkway, fulfills almost any outdoor dream, from a guided hike through the canyon to a paddle trip down the Little River to more adrenalin-fueled pursuits, like rappelling and caving.

In Mentone, the Wildflower Café is a charming spot with exceptional food. A cute cottage houses an eatery committed to using fresh, local produce and other ingredients to craft delights like loaded tomato pie and a triple-layer carrot cake.

Media Contacts

Jo Jo Terry, [email protected]