Glow Worms at the Dismals Canyon


Grand Canyon

By Jennifer Hallmark

Natural Wonders is the topic for October and goes right along with our subjects this year which include favorite vacations and world travel. The difference lies in the definition.

One source mentions that a natural wonder must be a clearly defined natural site or natural monument that was not created or significantly altered by humans. Our Crew at the Writing Prompts blog will be pointing out several natural wonders such as Mammoth Cave, Victoria Falls, and the Dismals Canyon.

What? You haven’t heard of the Dismals? Read on to find out more…

Glow little glow worm. The 1952 release of the song Glow Worm was sung by the Mills Brothers and talked about little glow worms, shining and glimmering. It’s a fun song and I’ll share a You Tube recording of the song at the end of this article.

Possibly the songwriter had visited the natural wonder tucked away in the northwest corner of Alabama called Dismals Canyon, a national natural landmark near Phil Campbell, Alabama.

The website for the canyon says:

Past twilight, the canyon lights up with tiny bioluminescent creatures we call 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.



It’s been a while since I visited what locals call “The Dismals” but it remains a magical place filled with streams, waterfalls, hiking trails, and a guided night tour to view the Dismalites. Besides hiking, activities include swimming, camping, cabin rentals, and a country store and restaurant. The canyon itself is rich with native plant life and the stream, Dismals Branch, enters the canyon through Rainbow Falls.



Rainbow Falls

On the one-and-a-half mile hiking trail, you’ll see the falls, boulders, natural bridges, and cliffs, while you’re surrounded by giant trees and ferns. This natural wonder contains one of the oldest primeval forests east of the Mississippi River untouched by ax or fire that is open to the public. The canyon is thought to have been originally occupied nearly 10,000 years ago by native tribes.

So if you’re ever in North Alabama, make sure to plan a visit to Dismal Canyon. It is open seven days a week and cabin rental’s possible year round. And plan to be there on a Saturday night so you can go on the guided night tour to see the shimmering glowworms. You’ll be glad you did. I’m planning an adventure there soon with the grandchildren. I know they’ll love it as much as me.

Writing Prompt: The odor of damp earth mingled with the green ferns and vines surrounding me. I stepped into the cave and flipped on my headlamp. Suddenly…