PHIL CAMPBELL, Ala. – A gorge near Phil Campbell is a destination where you can see beautiful waterfalls, rock formations, and a special sort of creature. People travel from all around the world to walk the mile and a half trail.
“Basically it’s the last primeval forest east of the Mississippi. What that means is that it’s never been touched by axe or fire,” said Wildlife Biologist, Britney McCaffrey.
When you visit Dismals Canyon during the day it’s significantly cooler in temperature.
“The rock formations down there are kind of unbelievable, they’re kind of all over the place. You might have a wall here and a wall here and a huge rock in between it and you know Paleozoic era, continental drift, plate shifting that’s how the rock formations were formed down there,”
There’s flora in the canyon that you don’t usually see in Alabama.
“We’ve got wild champion hemlock trees for the south,” said McCaffrey.
When you visit the canyon at night, it’s like you’re walking through the stars. There are glow worms all over the rocks. It’s tough to catch them on camera, but the experience in person is like no other.
After twilight, the rocks are covered in glow worms, called dismalites, which require a select habitat to survive. They’re only found in select places. According to the Dismals Canyon website, they are close cousins of the rare glowworms found in Australia and New Zealand.
“We refer to them as dismalites,” she said. “They’re about a centimeter in size, about the size of a small piece of string and they glow on their head and their tail, they’re the only glow warm species in the world that glow on both ends so that’s one of the many things that makes them special.”
“The coolest thing to me is what they eat, they actually eat mosquitos,” said McCaffrey.
So leave the bug spray at home and most importantly. If you do come; take nothing, leave nothing, and touch nothing.
“Go in there respect it, don’t carve on the rocks, don’t climb on the rocks,” she said. “They (people) carve in the moss and put their name in there that destroys eggs that destroys the dismalites and them even coming back to that spot.”
Experts explain that the salt on humans’ skin destroys the dismalites homes and it takes the moss years to regenerate.
Night tours to see the dismalites last about 45 minutes. The best time to go is during peak season which is the middle of April through May or June and then September through October.