Little River Canyon is carved from the side of Lookout
Mountain in Northeast Alabama near Fort Payne. The Little
River flows through the canyon to Lake Weiss, the Coosa
River, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. There are many
features of the canyon that make it an attractive
destination. There is kayaking, hiking, and fishing in the
canyon, and several good places to camp in the area. One new
feature that is particularly inviting is the Little River
The Little River Canyon Center is a cooperative endeavor between the National Park
Service and Jacksonville State University. Randy Owen of the
legendary country band
is a Jacksonville State Trustee and was instrumental in the center's establishment.
The facility serves as a field school for the university.
Professors and students provide expertise and resources for public
interpretive programs and classes that take place at the
center's indoor and outdoor classrooms.
The 23,000 square foot Little River Canyon Center
is still very new, so they are working on making it an
unforgettable educational experience. In addition to the
existing classrooms, there are plans for an indoor
interactive museum that will teach about the geology and
natural science of Little River Canyon. The way it was
described to me it sounded like a lot of fun and included an
educational climbing wall.
Outside the beautifully designed
building is a massive deck constructed of recycled
materials. The view from the deck is very nice, and there
are plans to add a stage for concerts and various other
events. There are several outdoor
interpretive classrooms located along a path that arcs
through the natural North Alabama underbrush behind the
building. There is also an old log cabin on display that was
built in the early 1800s.
We have much to learn about the
Little River Canyon Center, and we plan to visit again soon.
For more details, visit
Jacksonville State University's webpage. For a calendar
Once again, the wonderful camping and hiking at
Desoto State Park have brought us back to the Alabama
side of Lookout Mountain. We were excited
to see Little River Canyon Center offering a day of free
flint knapping classes. Flint knapping is the process of
making tools from a type of rock called flint. The flint
knapping process was used for centuries before the
development of metal tools.
Our ancestors used the
technique to make knives,
scrapers, spear heads and arrow heads.
We were camping with
friends, so we called ahead to verify a group of ten could be
accommodated. Not only did they welcome us, they pretty much gave us
a private lesson. We were especially fortunate to have Ranger Larry
Beene as our instructor. It's very obvious he's an expert. He can
make a pretty decent point in just minutes. He showed us how to use
small stones and deer antlers to slowly and accurately push flakes
from the rocks, shaping them as desired. He makes it look a lot
easier than it really is.
Ranger Beene also explained the safety procedures for Knapping. The
shards of flint that flake off the rock are razor sharp, and can
hurt really bad if you step on them. He taught us to always contain
the flakes. John Micah learned the hard way that the piece he was
working on was very sharp too when he cut his hand. He was very
mature about it. Ranger Beene also explained how one could
easily create a false archaeological site by leaving remnants lying
on the ground. So again, the message is "clean up!"
While we all experienced a certain degree of success
while flint knapping, I have to mention John Micah's natural
ability. Check out the point he made!
John Micah showing off his fine work.
Entry Date: May 2011
While camping at
Desoto State Park, we visited the Little River Canyon
for a couple of special events. We discovered the Little
River canyon Center while exploring events in the region
online. Several things convinced us to visit the Little
River Canyon Center.
First, it is
very near Desoto State Park which was hosting their annual
Spring Flower Saturday on this particular weekend. We
absolutely love the park and its campground.
center was hosting a Cinco de Mayo party that included lots
of fun and educational activities for kids.
center as also presenting an amphibian interpretive program
that featured tadpoles and frogs, always a winner with kids.
When we arrived,
the center's director met us at the door inviting us in to
eat. The building's entrance is beautiful, framed with
stacked stone and vaulted ceilings. The center of the
building is a breezeway that allows air to flow through
keeping the main area comfortable, We learned that the
building features a geothermal heating and cooling system,
and many of the materials are recycled. Very green!
After eating a
wonderful meal and bursting several pinata, we headed for
the activities. You can see by the pictures, there was fun
Soon it was time
for the amphibian presentation. The kids filed in, and filed
in, and filed in. The JSU professor seemed a little
surprised at the sheer numbers as well as the age group. We
could tell he was used to a little older crowd. However, he
did a fantastic job of adapting, and kept the kids' interest
for the entire session.
In all, we spent
about 3-4 hours at the center before heading back to camp at
Desoto State Park. We had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and
left with several tadpoles, including a rare albino.
The Richardson Tribe
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Desoto State Park
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Little River Canyon Center
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