FORT PAYNE, Ala. – The Independence Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends of the year at Little River Canyon National Preserve, and the National Park Service is giving several tips to help make life easier for visitors.
Park Ranger Matt Switzer said the Little River Falls parking lot is usually full by 10:00 a.m., so anyone wanting to enjoy the view of Little River Falls or hike the trail to Little Falls should plan to arrive early.
Jacksonville State University is offering additional parking at the Little River Canyon Center overflow parking lot for visitors to this area as the need arises.
The parking areas at the overlooks along the Little River Canyon Rim Parkway/AL Highway 176 are 30-minute parking only, and parking at Blue Hole is only for visitors to that location.
Switzer encouraged visitors to have a back up plan in case they do not get a spot in time. He recommends DeSoto State Park, Buck’s Pocket State Park, Lake Guntersville State Park, and Weiss Lake.
He also said preserve visitors should be weather-aware as the National Weather Service forecast is calling for showers and thunderstorms.
Switzer told WHNT News 19 that the rain could cause hazards for anyone wanting to go swimming in the preserve.
He said heavy rainfall as far up-river as the Chattanooga, Tennessee area, can cause rapid changes in the water level of the river with little or no warning.
He explained that flash flooding does not just increase the flow of the river, but can send large, harmful debris downriver with it.
“Right now, we’re seeing river levels back where the normal summer levels. They’re Probably a little bit higher than normal just because of those rains that we’ve been getting recently. so the river level can fluctuate pretty quickly. It goes up as fast as it goes back down,” said Switzer.
As far as COVID-19 safety, Switzer said while visiting Little River Canyon National Preserve, it is your responsibility to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 exposure. Little River Canyon National Preserve and the National Park Service have been taking extraordinary steps to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health agencies.
The CDC has made the following recommendations to help people recreating in parks and open spaces to prevent the spread of infectious diseases:
- Visit parks close to your home
- Prepare before you visit
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others
- Play it safe around and in swimming areas
- DO NOT visit parks if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19
- DO NOT visit crowded parks
- DO NOT use playgrounds
- DO NOT participate in organized activities or sports