Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dismal's Canyon

If you find yourself traveling through Alabama, make it a point to visit Dismal's Canyon, a privately run nature preserve. If you watched the Discovery Channel special When Dinosaurs Roamed America, you'll recognize the sandstone canyon that comprises most of the preserve. Because of its "primitive" look, it was used as a location for parts of the movie (I definitely recognize it from the Early Cretaceous New Mexico bit). The sandstone walls are, if my reading of the geologic map is correct, Cretaceous sandstone of the Tuscaloosa group's Gordo formation.

The loop through the canyon can be hiked in less than an hour, but you'll probably want to linger for a while. Jennie and I stopped there one afternoon, and unfortunately couldn't stick around until nightfall. I hope we can make it back, as nightly guided hikes reveal the canyon's claim to fame: colonies of glowworms, the bioluminescent larvae of the fly Orfelia fultoni. The canyon in daytime was gorgeous, too: quartz-riddled sandstone eroding into bumpy, knobby formations, walls carpeted in moss, abundant ferns, and cool, hemlock-shaded air offering relief from the stifling heat above. My favorite bit of the trail was the "Witch's Cavern," a maze formed by enormous blocks of fallen sandstone.

Here are some pictures from the trip. Unfortunately, we didn't bump into any Coelophysis.

Dismal's Canyon, Alabama

Dismal's Canyon, Alabama

Dismal's Canyon, Alabama

Dismal's Canyon, Alabama

Dismal's Canyon, Alabama

Dismal's Canyon, Alabama

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3 comments:

  1. Fantastic photographs! It looks so cool and primeval. Great snail pic!

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  2. Much appreciated, ma'am. I'm just a guy with a decent camera with a neato super macro mode. It's a really great spot, doubly so for its history as a Cretaceous river system.

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  3. Looks beautiful. A little reminiscent of the forests down here in Tasmania.

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Trolls get baleted.